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Il Mulino bakery in Highwood [now Maria's Bakery]

Il Mulino bakery in Highwood [now Maria's Bakery]
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  • Il Mulino bakery in Highwood [now Maria's Bakery]

    Post #1 - June 14th, 2004, 11:35 am
    Post #1 - June 14th, 2004, 11:35 am Post #1 - June 14th, 2004, 11:35 am
    Based on a Cathy2 recomendation, we tried this place about a month ago and have become quite fond of it. This weekend we had about 20 guests at our house and got 50 cookies and 30 mini-cannolis from Il Mulino. It cost about $50 and was a big success. The mini-cannolis were a particular hit. They asked us when we'd be picking them up so they wouldn't fill the cannolis too far in advance. That's service.
  • Post #2 - June 4th, 2007, 9:26 am
    Post #2 - June 4th, 2007, 9:26 am Post #2 - June 4th, 2007, 9:26 am
    Hi,

    Saturday I was at Il Mulino Bakery in Highwood to buy bread for Cicada Po'Boys. While the signage stated Il Mulino, inside it was referred to as Maria's Bakery. The name change was prompted by the retail bakery getting phone calls for the wholesale Il Mulino Bakery operations. All the same ownership, they just wanted to make a distinction.

    Maria's Bakery had their housemade eggplant parmesan, which was a new offering to me. Maria explained she only makes it when she can obtain eggplants like this:

    Image

    Maria's Bakery
    530 North Sheridan Road
    Highwood, IL 60040
    Tel: 847/266-0811
    Fax: 847/266-1574
    Sunday: 8 AM to 2:30 PM
    Mon-Fri: 8 AM - 6:30 PM
    Saturday: 7:30 AM - 5:30 PM

    Maria's/Il Mulino is at the rear of the lot. In the front of the lot to the north is a service station being transformed into a catering kitchen for "Once upon a." This seems to be another expanstion of the Once Upon a Bagel empire.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #3 - June 4th, 2007, 7:03 pm
    Post #3 - June 4th, 2007, 7:03 pm Post #3 - June 4th, 2007, 7:03 pm
    That is one beautiful eggplant.
  • Post #4 - June 4th, 2007, 8:14 pm
    Post #4 - June 4th, 2007, 8:14 pm Post #4 - June 4th, 2007, 8:14 pm
    I wonder if they still have the outstanding little friselle Il Mulino used to make?
    Lacking fins or tail
    The Gefilte fish
    swims with great difficulty.

    Jewish haiku.
  • Post #5 - June 7th, 2007, 9:33 pm
    Post #5 - June 7th, 2007, 9:33 pm Post #5 - June 7th, 2007, 9:33 pm
    Hi,

    I could not for the life of me remember Kuhdo's question when I went to Maria's to buy bread for lunch.

    I was just finished with exercise class when just about anything in the world looks edible. Fortunately Maria's goods are not just good looking, though I did have to resist buying everything my stomach demanded. I did yield to a potato croquette and an artichoke calzone. Ate the entire croquette still warm from cooking on my way home and a smidge of the calzone.

    Left row: aracini on the bottom and potato croquettes on top.
    middle row: variety of calzone
    right row: eggplant parmesan
    Image

    I thought I had finished shopping when I inquired about the tube shaped bread to learn it was raisin bread. What sealed the deal was the sugar crystals wrapped around the exterior.

    Image

    What I left at the store was temptation itself: Sfogliatelle

    Image

    For a mere $1.75 it was whispering my name though I still resisted til another day.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - June 7th, 2007, 9:54 pm
    Post #6 - June 7th, 2007, 9:54 pm Post #6 - June 7th, 2007, 9:54 pm
    Wow, does that look great! I am *so* there . . . if not tomorrow at lunch, over the weekend for sure. Thanks for the great pics and info.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #7 - June 7th, 2007, 11:13 pm
    Post #7 - June 7th, 2007, 11:13 pm Post #7 - June 7th, 2007, 11:13 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:What I left at the store was temptation itself: Sfogliatelle

    Image

    For a mere $1.75 it was whispering my name though I still resisted til another day.

    Your will is of steel
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #8 - June 9th, 2007, 1:47 pm
    Post #8 - June 9th, 2007, 1:47 pm Post #8 - June 9th, 2007, 1:47 pm
    This bakery continues to amaze. If you get there about mid-day on Saturday, stuff will be coming out of the kitchen, in small, carefully made batches. Maria will also make you taste anything you look at, and you'll end of loving it. Here are two new gems from today:

    First, and (Antonious) forgive the spelling, a pannini panella. The filling is garbanzo flour made into a polenta like cake. That's it, plus the basil leaf. We were told to squeeze some fresh lemon juice. The bread is quite chewy, and the garbanzo cake fried and delicious. This is one great sandwich.

    Image
    Image


    Below is a torta caprese (Capri) which is a flourless chocolate cake with lots and lots of ground almonds. I'm not a big fan of the typical boring flourless chocolate cake, but this one was crumbly, nutty and outstanding. She said she doesn't have this often.

    Image
  • Post #9 - June 13th, 2007, 1:56 pm
    Post #9 - June 13th, 2007, 1:56 pm Post #9 - June 13th, 2007, 1:56 pm
    I stopped in here last Friday and overall, I was very pleased with my purchases. I have to admit that we ate most of what I bought over the weekend that followed, so some of it might not have been in optimum condition.

    Eggplant Parmesan - Stellar. I heated this up after a few days of storing it in the fridge and it was still amazing. The flavors and textures were great. This was a carefully -- and skillfully -- prepared item which I would not hesitate to purchase again.

    Sausage and Cheese Calzone - Stellar. This may have been the best calzone I ever had. The filling (cheese, red sauce, sausage) was gooey and flavorful and the exterior, rather than being a perfunctory piece of baked pizza dough, was an extremely short and flakey pastry that was totally compelling. Even the bites that contained no filling were delightful.

    Meat Arancini - Excellent. The filling here (ground meat, red sauce, peas) was very tasty and the exterior was well-executed. It was comprised of soft rice and toasty bread crumbs that formed a delicious, light crust.

    Cheese Pizza Bread - Very good. I liked this a lot. The blend of cheeses was surprisingly pungent and rich. There was just the right amount of tomato under it, as well. A very dense little product.

    Potato Croquette - Very good. I think this was about as good as a reheated croquette can be. The flavor was excellent and the textures -- interior and exterior -- were right on.

    Spinach Pizza Bread - Didn't love it. This just tasted bland to me, especially compared to the 'Cheese' version described above.

    Spinach-Ricotta Arancini - Didn't love it. The filling was a bit tart and somewhat dry. I didn't reheat this until Sunday, which may explain some of the issues I experienced with it.

    Sfogliatelle - Not my thing. I probably destroyed this by letting it sit for a couple of days before eating it. By the time I got to it, it was pretty tough, texturally. I'll bet they're much more tender when eaten more promptly. Even so, the citrus flavor in the filling was not to my liking. Again, it may have been a great rendition, it's just not something I cared for.

    There were so many other great-looking items that I didn't try -- especially sweets. I cannot wait to go back and try some more. The breads also looked excellent, so I'll make sure to forego my regular bread purchases this week and get them here instead.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #10 - July 7th, 2007, 8:43 am
    Post #10 - July 7th, 2007, 8:43 am Post #10 - July 7th, 2007, 8:43 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Eggplant Parmesan - Stellar. I heated this up after a few days of storing it in the fridge and it was still amazing. The flavors and textures were great. This was a carefully -- and skillfully -- prepared item which I would not hesitate to purchase again.


    Ditto.

    We heated our tray at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes, then let it cool for 10 minutes:

    Image

    In this cross-section, there are many individually breaded and fried eggplant slices assembled with a fresh tomato sauce and cheeses.

    Image

    This was quite popular at dinner last night with people negotiating how to divy up the last slice.

    I was in Maria's Bakery on July 3rd to arrange bakery goods for the 4th. I saw my post pasted on the counter showing the eggplant with the dollar bill. Until I acknowledged it was my post, Maria never really knew what I was doing with my occasional picture taking. It's a hobby!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #11 - July 9th, 2007, 10:06 am
    Post #11 - July 9th, 2007, 10:06 am Post #11 - July 9th, 2007, 10:06 am
    Cathy, in the odd event there's any left over, it makes a fine sandwich the next day, sliced thinly at room temperature on il Mulino's Valenzano bread. A few leaves of fresh basil and a light drizzle of olive oil would be a nice complement.
  • Post #12 - July 27th, 2007, 10:31 pm
    Post #12 - July 27th, 2007, 10:31 pm Post #12 - July 27th, 2007, 10:31 pm
    I knew I'd find a thread about this spot! I discovered it about 2-3 years ago while trying to find Hotel Moraine. :oops: Maria was there and basically fed my friend and me just about everything in the store! I've since been back and almost always get the meat ragu arancini. I don't love the vegetarian one but I LOOOOOVE these meaties.

    I also love the frosted fig cookies!

    Anyway, today we had the artichoke and prosciutto "pizza" I think it's more a focaccia with a real doughy crust. Yummy.

    I will say I don't love their biscotti, not sure why but after the first time I tried them I didn't want them again.

    Anyway, I'm always looking for an excuse to be north and east around lunchtimes. 8)
  • Post #13 - August 1st, 2007, 4:14 pm
    Post #13 - August 1st, 2007, 4:14 pm Post #13 - August 1st, 2007, 4:14 pm
    And while you're there, get some of those big pot stickers at the Chinese restaurant next door ...
  • Post #14 - August 17th, 2007, 1:25 pm
    Post #14 - August 17th, 2007, 1:25 pm Post #14 - August 17th, 2007, 1:25 pm
    HI,

    Stopped by today to see they now are offering lasagna filled with ricotta, eggplant between layers of freshly made lasagna noodles. She served us a sample, causing us to regret not coming for lunch. She not only had the eggplant parmesan, she also offered zucchini and eggplant parmesan.

    Stacked on the side of the counter was pannini panella as Jonah noted earlier. A few years ago, this was something she made for herself and offered a few customers if you came at just the right moment. Now it is a regularly offered food item.

    What really pleases me is the location: 10 minutes from my house!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #15 - August 17th, 2007, 1:45 pm
    Post #15 - August 17th, 2007, 1:45 pm Post #15 - August 17th, 2007, 1:45 pm
    I've been stopping in at Il Mulino/Maria's on an almost weekly basis for the past few months. Aside from the proximity (it's only 10 minutes from my office), what I love is the consistently high quality, across the board. Breads, confections and prepared foods are all excellent at Maria's and that's typically a very hard trio to master. If you're in the neighborhood, it's definitely worth a stop and even if you're not, it's still worth a drive. Great stuff!

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #16 - August 21st, 2007, 7:30 pm
    Post #16 - August 21st, 2007, 7:30 pm Post #16 - August 21st, 2007, 7:30 pm
    I went in for the first time today and absolutely loved it. Maria wasn't there, but hopefully I'll meet her next time. I am absolutely full of a rice ball with meat, cheese/mozzarella pizza, and a chocolate eclair.
  • Post #17 - December 9th, 2007, 9:06 pm
    Post #17 - December 9th, 2007, 9:06 pm Post #17 - December 9th, 2007, 9:06 pm
    Because I am baking-impaired, I had no choice but to farm out a few of the pastries for my family's annual holiday party. Luckily, Maria's is very nearby and she took great care of us. In addition to a couple of platters of delicious cookies and mini-pastries, we also ordered a yule log from Maria, which was especially wonderful. In fact, it was more of a diorama than a log . . .

    Image
    Yule Log, raspberry filled, from Maria's Bakery

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #18 - December 11th, 2007, 1:54 pm
    Post #18 - December 11th, 2007, 1:54 pm Post #18 - December 11th, 2007, 1:54 pm
    Thanks for posting that. I'm having a party on Saturday and need to get some sweets.
  • Post #19 - December 11th, 2007, 2:00 pm
    Post #19 - December 11th, 2007, 2:00 pm Post #19 - December 11th, 2007, 2:00 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Because I am baking-impaired, I had no choice but to farm out a few of the pastries for my family's annual holiday party. Luckily, Maria's is very nearby and she took great care of us. In addition to a couple of platters of delicious cookies and mini-pastries, we also ordered a yule log from Maria, which was especially wonderful. In fact, it was more of a diorama than a log . . .

    Image
    Yule Log, raspberry filled, from Maria's Bakery

    =R=


    Holy cow - I've never seen a yule log with a Santa sleigh riding up it. It's a little trippy in terms of scale - either Santa is a wee ant or that Yule log is exponentially bigger than a sequoia.

    I'm a naturalist, though. I like the little meringue mushrooms on the logs.
  • Post #20 - December 11th, 2007, 2:57 pm
    Post #20 - December 11th, 2007, 2:57 pm Post #20 - December 11th, 2007, 2:57 pm
    aschie30 wrote:Holy cow - I've never seen a yule log with a Santa sleigh riding up it. It's a little trippy in terms of scale - either Santa is a wee ant or that Yule log is exponentially bigger than a sequoia.

    Heh . . . I've been to too many Dead shows, I guess. I looked right past that. 8)

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #21 - December 11th, 2007, 2:59 pm
    Post #21 - December 11th, 2007, 2:59 pm Post #21 - December 11th, 2007, 2:59 pm
    Hi,

    I have been docenting an exhibit on standard gauge toy trains from 1913-1934 at the Highland Park Historical Society recently. When it comes to proportion and scale, there are some really loopy details. There are lead flower garden next to a scale model home. If these flowers were real, then they are as high as an elephant's eye.

    Somethings need a child-like imagination to really enjoy.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #22 - November 7th, 2008, 3:32 pm
    Post #22 - November 7th, 2008, 3:32 pm Post #22 - November 7th, 2008, 3:32 pm
    Maria seems to be branching out into different savory foods, and has more variety on a daily basis. Yesterday in addition to the usual things, she had stuffed peppers that looked great (unfortunately they were sold to someone else and I didnt have time to wait for them to make more) and gnocchi in tomato sauce. Also, every Thursday Maria receives a delivery of fresh ricotta, "homemade by a friend, from Sicily." I assume that the friend is from Sicily, not the cheese. I got a taste, and it was delicious. She uses some in house and sells the rest. I took home both the meat lasagna and the spinach/mushroom lasagna, which were great. There is no telling what surprises she has on any particular day, though there is more to choose from than in the past.

    -Will
  • Post #23 - November 7th, 2008, 3:52 pm
    Post #23 - November 7th, 2008, 3:52 pm Post #23 - November 7th, 2008, 3:52 pm
    HI,

    She also sells a pretty good looking parmesan for around $15/pound.

    I have a friend who lives by herself and doesn't cook as much. I will bring her a tray of lasagna from regular, eggplant to a layered vegetable dish she made a few weeks ago on the fly. She obtains a lot of her vegetables from Nichol's farms.

    I didn't know about the ricotta. Thank you for the tip.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #24 - February 22nd, 2009, 3:37 pm
    Post #24 - February 22nd, 2009, 3:37 pm Post #24 - February 22nd, 2009, 3:37 pm
    Living in the city, I don't often get a chance to visit Maria's/Il Mulino. Last week, after a great lunch at La Casa de Issac, I headed up the street to Maria's. It's been nearly two years since my last visit, and Maria is still turning out the same outstanding food and pastries with just as much friendly enthusiasm and attention to detail as ever. The signage still all reads Il Mulino and when I asked her if they decided to drop the Maria's and just stick with the name on the signs, almost in unison everyone in the bakery, employees and customers alike (or so it seemed) shouted, "No. It's Maria's Bakery!"

    I was lucky enough to snag the last cibatta of the day, and an order of eggplant parmigiana, though the fresh pan of lasagna almost had me forsaking the much lauded eggplant.

    Maria's Interior
    Image

    Maria's Lasagna
    Image

    Maria's chocolate donuts have been mentioned as being very good, so I got one to eat in the car on the way home. The donut was good, though it had a certain sensibility to the frosting that, while very good in it's own right, I found to be a little grainy in the texture dept. Maria's true calling is in the outstanding Italian pastries that she sells and I'll stick to those from now on.

    Maria's Chocolate Donuts
    Image

    Getting back to the eggplant parmigiana; I'm really not much of a heat and serve prepared foods kind of guy, but in the case of Maria's eggplant Parisian, I'd make an exception to that rule any day of the week. This is an outstanding version of the classic that is both light and satisfying at the same time. I'm not sure if its' the special Italian eggplants that Maria uses or if it's her recipe and skills. Probably both. On the savory side, this dish alone is enough to get me to return to Maria's much more often from now on.

    Maria's Eggplant Parmigiana
    Before
    Image

    After
    Image

    Image

    Maria's/Il Mulino remains a gem that needs be be on everyone's radar.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #25 - March 9th, 2009, 8:39 am
    Post #25 - March 9th, 2009, 8:39 am Post #25 - March 9th, 2009, 8:39 am
    I finally had a chance to try the stuffed peppers, and they were excellent. Despite being cooked, the very fresh yellow peppers retained some crispness. The stuffing of ground beef, rice, and diced potatoes was not overly seasoned, but went well with the pepper and the nicely acidic tomato sauce. Unlike a lot of stuffed peppers that seem to turn to mush, these retained the different textures and flavors of their parts. Another item that I have been buying lately is what I think they call caponata. It is basically a vegetable lasagna with out the pasta. Lots of eggplant, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, zucchini, artichoke, etc., with layers of ricotta and mozzarella. It too is outstanding.

    -Will
  • Post #26 - March 12th, 2009, 9:39 am
    Post #26 - March 12th, 2009, 9:39 am Post #26 - March 12th, 2009, 9:39 am
    Does anyone know if Maria's has cakes that can be picked up, or do they have to be ordered in advance? I don't remember seeing any cakes on display the last time I was there.
  • Post #27 - March 12th, 2009, 1:31 pm
    Post #27 - March 12th, 2009, 1:31 pm Post #27 - March 12th, 2009, 1:31 pm
    I dont think that I have seen regular cakes there, but she often has larger trays of more pastry type desserts that could be substituted, napoleon and tart sort of things. I would call ahead in any case.

    -Will
  • Post #28 - March 12th, 2009, 1:41 pm
    Post #28 - March 12th, 2009, 1:41 pm Post #28 - March 12th, 2009, 1:41 pm
    Thanks. This was for a birthday. Individual tarts don't work.
  • Post #29 - May 13th, 2009, 10:28 pm
    Post #29 - May 13th, 2009, 10:28 pm Post #29 - May 13th, 2009, 10:28 pm
    Hi,

    Maria's Bakery continues to evolve a broader range of ready-to-eat food for take-out and limited seating within. Recently, I met a friend for lunch at the bakery.

    We shared a large salad consisting of mixed greens, arugula, goat cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette with a very flavorful olive oil:

    Image

    We shared a Pane Proscuitto made of proscuitto, arugula, tomato and fresh mozzarella cheese dressed with oil and vinegar. This is a half portion of Pane Proscuitto:

    Pretty side:
    Image

    Just as pretty side:
    Image

    For less than $10 each, we had an outstanding lunch.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #30 - May 14th, 2009, 3:37 am
    Post #30 - May 14th, 2009, 3:37 am Post #30 - May 14th, 2009, 3:37 am
    I got takeout from Maria's again today. This time, the eggplant parmesan was already cooked and in a large tray. They transferred as much as I wanted into a smaller container. It was good, but nowhere near the quality of the batch whose picture I posted upthread. Previously, the dish came uncooked and topped with freshly grated cheese and was finished in the oven. This time, the previously cooked version didn't reheat as well, nor was it as thick with layers of eggplant. A slight disappointment, but not a deal breaker. I also got a piece of pound cake with mixed berries that was stellar.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven

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