The real deal

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Il Mulino - Credit: Archant

Roby Mill’s newest restaurant offers a taste of Italy without leaving Lancashire. Chef James Andrews reveals what sets this Italian restaurant apart

Who would have thought you would be able to sample the Italian way of life when it comes to food in the heart of the Lancashire countryside? Since the opening of Il Mulino, in the picturesque village of Roby Mill, you can now enjoy an unforgettable Italian experience from the moment you enter the restaurant.

Having undergone an extensive refurbishment, creating a relaxed, modern environment without losing the building’s character and charm, their romantic courtyard decorated with fairy lights and fragrant white jasmine creates the perfect ambience for alfresco dining, and with the sun shining, you could almost be in Italy. 

Combining long careers in the hospitality sector with a shared passion for Italian food, restaurateur Chris Wilson and head chef James Andrews are keen to offer a traditional Italian experience from the moment guests step inside their new restaurant. Everything from their authentic wine cave to their charcuterie counter helps create the social ambience Italian dining is known for.

Head chef James tells us what their customers can expect. 

How did you decide which dishes should go on the menu?

Seasonality. It has to be in season. We’ll be changing the menu around three times a year, making sure each ingredient we use reflects what’s in season at that time. 

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Our menu incorporates a lot of seafood dishes, so we took a lot of inspiration from Sicily, from how they cook the seafood and how they pair flavours. Using my experience, research and a lot of trial and error, we’ve developed an authentic Italian menu, while still remaining true to our roots.

What’s your favourite dish on the menu? 

One of our most popular dishes is linguine allo scoglio. It’s served en papillote and as soon as its opened, a rich, aromatic, shellfish sauce releases a heady aroma. 

Another favourite of mine is the roast hispi cabbage, served with pesto calabrese and hazelnuts. It’s a simple dish but it speaks about seasonality and letting the ingredients shine through. There are just three components but they each bring something to do the dish. Traditional Italian food stays very much true to its roots; recipes focus on the best ingredients and let them shine.

How important is it to use locally-produced ingredients?

That’s a massive thing for us. Aside from the seafood and the authentic Italian ingredients we have shipped from Italy, everything else we buy locally. We’re neighbours to a great local farm which is perfect for choosing the best seasonal produce. It’s important for us to showcase some of the beautiful local ingredients that can be found in the county.

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Il Mulino’s James Andrews and Matty Manzanilla - Credit: Archant

What do you think of the food scene in Lancashire?

I think it’s great, and we’re happy to be a part of it. The farming around the Ribble Valley is amazing – I would go as far as to say the produce is probably the best I have worked with. Lancashire has some brilliant restaurants and the food scene continues to get better.

If you had to pick one ingredient that you couldn’t cook without, what would it be?

It would have to be garlic. It’s so versatile – you can roast it, confit it and caramelise it. It can completely transform a dish.

How do you want your guests to feel when they taste your food?

It sounds clichéd, but I want them to feel happy, especially if they’ve tried something new and really enjoyed it. All chefs want their customers to enjoy their food. We want people to come in here and feel like they are in Italy – almost like a little holiday away from home.

What can your guests look forward to in the coming months?

We will soon be transitioning through to autumn and winter, so we’re looking at doing more hearty and comforting dishes. We always stay ahead of what’s going to be in season and start planning dishes around those. We’ll also be rotating specials every week, so visitors can try something new each time. 

For more visit ilmulino.restaurant