With low expectations and honestly my second choice that night (I really wanted pasta at Diavola, but there were no seats at the bar and a wait that included people outside) how bad could Rustic be with all the money that’s being thrown at this project? The place was packed, with up to 45 minute wait for a table and first come first serve at the bar. The bar itself is somewhat cold, feeling more like a waiting area than a warm bar.
I started with my staple evaluation salad, the Caesar. The Caesar was cold, served in a cold plate and a salad that was well tossed. A wet dressing and flavorful. Two little anchovies were placed on top. Croutons were crunchy. I’d say average or slightly above average salad with extra points going to cold salad bowl and cold crisp greens.
Spaghetti Carbonara is a favorite of mine. As I may have mentioned before, Tarry Lodge in New York is my standard bearer of high quality carbonara preparation. Rustic’s preparation was once again above average. A generous (perhaps too generous) and not quite crispy enough portion of cubed pancetta was the most noticeable item besides the pasta in the bowl. The pasta was cooked an Italian al dente and the egg mixture sauce was well incorporated and without any visible scrambled egg. I’m sure there’s a kitchen technique for making carbonara effortlessly for average kitchen cooks that doesn’t involve cracking and tempering eggs and then tossing the pasta over and over again in the egg and pasta water mixture.
Well, whatever Rustic is doing, they’re doing it well enough for me not to complain. The pasta and salad were both slightly better than average but not brilliant. I could easy bring people from out of town here for both the Coppola excellence in film legacy and a better than average meal for a reasonable price.