There is no denying that Mulino is in an unlikely spot for what is the most authentic Italian restaurant in Birmingham. Millenium Point is a vast grey space of escalators and floors, of metals and hard surfaces, which when coupled with a large Christmas tree, smaller Christmas trees, and lights has the feel of the first Die Hard film. I was half-expecting Bruce Willis to slide face first across the concourse and under our table, firing shots and shattering the glass of my negroni everywhere. On the right day I do have the bastardy look of that bastard Alan Rickman. Apologies, Hans Gruber. It’s so easy to mistake the man from the character he plays for money. Especially when they share the same face.

Get passed the Hollywood set for the action movie and the distinct lack of Bruce Willis and what you have is the restaurant that Laghi’s once was; hardly surprising given that this is the same owner as that of the place at Five Ways. And that’s no slight on Laghi’s at all; I’ve been several times of recent and it’s very good. But it’s also finessed, tidy and not exclusively Italian anymore given that the menu has widened itself out to the boundaries of the Roman Empire in essence. Mulino strips it back to the cooking of the top-third of Italy, of slow braises, silky pastas, and cured meats. The chef is an elderly Italian gent, well-travelled, and softly spoken. He brings most dishes out himself. The rest of the all-Italian team are mostly on hand to deliver wine and negroni. Both are excellent.

The key has always been an obsessive detail with produce. Luca Laghi – owner and name above the door at the other place – ships his truffles from Piedmont, imports his cured meats from Bologna and has a vegetable buyer who FaceTime’s him from various vegetable markets across Italy. Bread baked in the kitchens here (now used throughout the city) is topped with offal rich ‘nduja from Calabria and the brightest of mozzarella. Then a board of cured meats, cheeses, and breads, all Northern Italian and in impeccable condition. Honey and mostarda is provided. The honey doesn’t get a look in; the sweet heat of mostarda is all the lubricant I need to see me through the board.

The molten Parmesan dish is one I’ve had many times and never fails to impress. It’s a chocolate lava cake for adults; a suet-like casing holding a spew of liquid Parmesan. On top is shards of crisp Parma ham and a touch of reduced balsamic. It’s food to get excited about. There is a stew of mussels baked under a pizza dough crust, releasing a heady steam of white wine and coastal breeze, and duck to finish, the fettuccine cooked in duck stock and laced with a ragu made from the entire bird. It’s robust and rich, a ragu made by someone who cooks from the heart with only memory to fall back on. It is seriously good.

There is no room for dessert, though I wish there were given the tiramisu that’s going to the other tables. As we begin to leave the place starts to fill up with Italians, some tucking in to pizza with deep brown crusts, others pasta, others rich Tuscan stews. Mulino – or maybe moreover Millenium Point – isn’t really the place to come for a romantic meal, yet as far as the place to go for real Italian food – rustic and handsome – there is arguably nowhere better.