Disclaimer: After Street visited Wm. Mulherin's Sons, allegations emerged that the head chef  had sexually harrassed several employees. He has since been suspended.

Wm. Mulherin's Sons has been through a lot, but  not even Prohibition could bring it down. After America’s dry spell shuttered the whiskey store’s doors in 1924, it lay dormant for 92 years. Three years before awakening, the building’s side was painted with a Stephen "ESPO" Powers mural that famously appeared on the cover of Kurt Vile’s 2013 album Wakin on a Pretty Daze. The store’s history is incorporated into the new restaurant through its aesthetics: gorgeous dark wood fills the bar area, accentuated by black leather seats, patches of bare brick wall, and white tile floor, and the arched windows and clean architectural lines brings one right back to the turn of the century. The dining room is lit in tungsten and candlelight, with a moody fire burning for any couples

Enter the building on Front Street to a foyer with chocolate brown tassels and a mural of dancing goat demons. The dining space then splits off into two main areas: to the right, the bar along with any additional seating; to the left, another dining room. There’s a wall of frosted glass near where we sat, providing a small partition between the restaurant and the soft rumble of the El train outside.

Photo: Danny Rubin

The menu offers classic upscale Italian fare with some tapas–style classic bar fare sprinkled in. It’s 2018—of course the waiter tells you that all the dishes are sized to share and that they’ll be brought to your table as they’re prepared. And watch out—they will correct you if you mispronounce “porcini.” There was a small gap between the order and the food’s arrival, but they brought out plenty of house–baked sourdough in between to keep us satiated. We could tell that the bread was baked in the wood–fired oven; the char on the crust gave the bread a subtle smoky flavor which contrasted beautifully with the simple salted butter spread. 

The wait wasn’t too long, though, and our first round of courses did not disappoint. First up were the fazzoletti and the porcini cavatelli pasta dishes. The fazzoletti itself simultaneously resembled ultra–thin sheets of lasagne and carefully unwrapped raviolis. It was covered in a subtly creamy sauce and garnished with the occasional porcini, asparagus head, and spring onion—both shoot and flower. The sauce was the highlight of the dish: it was creamy and cheesy, but not heavy or overpowering. Instead, it infused the fazzoletti with just the slightest hint of decadence.

We initially mistook the brown cavatelli—meant to be shaped like hotdog buns—for gnocchi, but could taste the difference in the semolina dough. No potatoes here, just a light dusting of taleggio and fontina. The dish was almost overwhelmingly salty, resembling a paella or other seafood dish in salinity. 

Photo: Danny Rubin

A quick utensil change brought us to the pizza—our final and main course. We ordered two pies to share, a Double Margherita and the “Spicy Jawn.” The Double Margherita was an updated classic. A generous addition of burrata took each slice to a new level. The “Spicy Jawn” was aptly named, featuring long hots, hot coppa, pepperoni, caciocavallo, tomato, and sharp provolone. If you can’t handle spicy foods, don’t worry. Though the heat was definitely present, it added another layer of flavor to the pie without being overpowering

And don’t worry if you get too full and can’t travel home. Wm. Mulherin's rents out the upstairs hotel for upwards of $268 a night. Cozy, moody, and delicious, it’s the perfect one–stop shop for a lovely date.

TL;DR: Classic upscale Italian interwoven with Prohibition themes.

Location: 1355 N Front Street


Monday–Friday: 5:00 p.m.–12:00 a.m.
Saturday–Sunday: 10:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m.; 5:00 p.m.–12:00 a.m.

Price: $$$