This is a bit of an odd one for me to write. To give some perspective, I was aware of Mulino some four months before it opened, taken by its owner, Luca, to view its barebones. I sat in Luca’s back garden, shared a bottle of wine and discussed how to launch it: two parties over two nights to fit within distancing guidelines. I wrote a press release, then the invites, then a second round of press releases when the government tightened restrictions. We booked a band, a photographer; sent more emails. With four days to go until launch in September the government locked us back down again. Mulino opened with a whimper in an empty events business, not the bang of celebration we had planned.

I was paid for that – quite a chunk of money actually – and it’s never sat right with me. The high standards I apply to everything in life other than grammar, were amplified by the personal relationship I have with Luca. I’ve eaten in his restaurants too many times. We’ve hung out at lunch; drank way too much in pubs together. I felt like by not making Mulino a success I had failed him. For someone who prides himself on a small number of friends who I’d move the earth for, it hurt.

I’ve eaten five pizzas at Mulino and paid for four of them. The first was the opening day when I arrived an hour early for a meeting because I wanted to be the first person to put money in the till, and also because I really wanted a glass of Barolo. The last a few days before lockdown. The one time I didn’t pay I took someone from the press for lunch. In the efforts of transparency I’ll ignore that one, but it hardly makes any difference; this is the Laghi’s product under a different name on the other side of the city centre. We both know the standard is set to high.

The menu is short and led almost entirely by pizza, the style of which is closer to the shorter, firmer dough of Rome, than the sloppier Neapolitan, meaning transport by hand is easier. The crust is blistered; chewy and malleable, requiring a full set of teeth to work through it’s rewards. The toppings are familiar with anyone who understands the obsession behind the man; almost exclusively Italian, often picked out by Luca over video call with his buyer. Familiar pizzas of pepperoni and margarita are joined by huge drapes of Serrano ham with rocket, or pickled cipollino onions and ‘nduja. Occasionally scamorza might make an appearance, or globe artichokes doused in peppery oil. It really is driven by the seasons unlike any other pizzeria in Birmingham. From memory the most expensive is about £10. It’s too cheap.

They make croissants in-house, along with other pastries, have a house lager and a stonking wine list. It really is the perfect little spot for that part of Birmingham. Except it’s not. Millennium Point is not the place to be during a pandemic, given it sits on the campus of Aston University and BCU, whilst the Think Tank has been closed. It’s hardly fair for somewhere which deserves better. Now given nobody knows when things will go back to normal I’m not sure what use this piece is, other than to serve as a reminder that places like this are there for you. Mulino didn’t get the opening it deserved first time around, let’s make sure they do second time around.

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