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Magnolia’s at the Mill
By George Humphries
Early in my acquaintance with Loudoun County, a pair of world class restaurateurs opened a Leesburg restaurant in a restored (and slightly relocated) historic feed and flour mill on the then edge of downtown Leesburg. Since starting Tuscarora Mill, their range of start-up eateries have grown to five disparate establishments.
An outstanding example of this burgeoning success story is Magnolias at the Mill in Purcellville, where in 2004 the partnership converted another old (1905) mill building to an upscale restaurant.
As with the other sites in the group, Magnolias is unique, not only in its distinctive architecture but in its food as well. Executive Chef Mark Marrocco has his own unique style and has also developed an eclectic menu using local produce and meats wherever possible.
We and our friends have had steaks at Magnolias a number of times, and they have consistently been tender and tasty. The restaurant regularly offers two woodfired grilled steaks (a filet and a New York strip). On a recent visit, a prime rib was offered as a chef’s special, and it also proved to be excellent.
The menu also features five pizzas with unique and fascinating ingredients. The Figaro has fresh figs, prosciutto, and gorgonzola. There also are a Classic Margherita; a Crab Thermidor pizza; a “Tre Carni” pizza with sausage, bacon and pepperoni; and a Carbonara with pancetta, onions, mozzarella, egg, pepper, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil ingredients.
The current menu lists three all-natural, grass-fed beef burgers; one featuring cheddar cheese, one with bacon and other ingredients, and a third (Blackened Border Burger) sports guacamole, fried jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, and Chipotle ranch dressing.
Under the menu heading Pan and Brick Oven are such interesting and intriguing items as Pork Scaloppini Involtino paired with prosciutto, asparagus, asiago polenta, caramelized shallots with Madeira mustard sauce – a combination of ingredients that just reading turns on the appetite.
My wife’s favorite is the Lacquered Salmon, glazed and authoritatively sauced with soy and other seasonings, accompanied by Wasabi potatoes, stir fried vegetables, and sushi ginger.
A close friend terms the House Made Spinach Ravioli “one of the best pasta dishes” she has ever eaten. It’s made with ricotta cheese, fresh spinach, and mascarpone tomato sauce. She reports that the pasta is flavorful, homemade, and impressiviely fresh. The tomato sauce is rich and creamy, still with a good tomato flavor.
My spies and I have visited Magnolias at the Mill many times and included in our past favorites are the Lump Crab, Mango, and Avocado Tower, served cold and expertly spiced. Another good choice is the Fried Green Tomatoes with goat cheese, pistachio relish, Tasso ham and red pepper aioli, or the fried battered asparagus when it is available. The grilled flank steak Caesar salad, with hand cut fries, tomatoes, blue cheese and tobacco onions also has pleased. Never a plain nor a bad meal.
There are 46 items on the current menu, each inciting the appetite and inspiring a return visit. Entrée prices range from $7 for the soup de jour through $13 for a fancy carbonara pizza to $29 for the New York strip steak with potatoes, asparagus, Bermuda onions and a peppercorn sauce.
Desserts by Marcy Mergler are a worthy finish for a good meal, and the restaurant has a full range of espresso, cappuccino and other coffees, as well as a lengthy wine and beer list.
Chef Marracco and his crew know their business. As they say in the Michelin Guide, Magnolias at the Mill in Purcellville is “worth a trip.
George Humphries is a retired Navy aviator who began cooking at the age of 10 and has managed several large restaurants. He has lived in Loudoun Country since 1984.