Friday, March 4, 2011


Fashion Island, Newport Beach

Restaurant Week, Winter 2011

Rustica took over Francoli's site. Today, on this lovely, lovely Friday, we sat inside. We were hungry and couldn't wait to eat! The service here is personable and attentive to details. In general, the wait for lunch was long, and we arrived at 12:45. Sit outside if you can or at the back booths to avoid the noise and traffic. They have good happy hours here for $5 glass. I want to come back and try the Kobe Beef burger on the brioche bun; looks so good!!

Prices were affordable here too, similar to Cafe R&D, a close neighbor. The seating is not particularly comfortable but I didn't think about the distraction for the most part. The interior decor and colors look a bit confused. It's very organic with some red flare in modern chandeliers, a hot kick. It's nothing exciting as far as atmosphere goes, but when you come in here for lunch it's best to sit and enjoy a conversation outside on the patio. There are more pleasant atmospheric distractions outside. Now onto the food. Delicious. I will be coming back, and I'd like to try a happy hour with appetizers.

Olive Bread Roll & Mini Pretzel

Served warm. The roll is a very small portion. Perfect. We shouldn't fill up on bread before the meal anyhow. The crust on this was lovely, though the interior was a little less moist than I would like. Nonetheless, the roll was okay. The kitchen makes mini pretzels as well. The butter square served has a salt seasoning on it that is nice.

Truffle Mushroom Flatbread
Sinful! Topped with sauteed wild mushrooms, Urbani truffle butter, and spinach ricotta on top that is still bubbling from the oven. This can't be healthy. It's heavy, but it's delicious. It's the butter. Well done. You can split this between two to three ladies.

Lobster Ravioli
with pea cream sauce

Looked like cream sauce on dumplings, sprinkled with some peas. There was not a speck of this left on the plate when we were done, not even a speck of sauce. The four raviolis are filled with crab meat, very thin strands of crab meat. This was good. Quite rich though!

Sliced, tender hanger steak
served custom on the Signature Rustica Salad

So good! This salad was made splendid due to the tender, sliced hanger steak, prepared rare-medium rare. There were seven big pieces, sliced in large chunks on huge bed of the butter lettuce, etc., with really thin-sliced zucchini, yellow tomatoes, and radicchio. I had the aged balsamic vinegar on the side, a great choice with the meat. The red meat eat here stands out, and the Kobe beef burger was certainly just as alluring. I'll be ordering that next time. This was wonderful. $15. Delicious and huge; I had meat to take home. Again this hanger steak was incredible. Moist, so you don't need much dressing, if even any.

Butternut Squash Soup
As an appetizer, one of us had the butternut squash soup; large bowl, small portion of soup, though an appropriately-small portion. The flavors domineering were bright kicks of ginger. Didn't taste much like squash but more like ginger. I can't say I'd order it again. I enjoy ginger, but this had too much in there for me. I had wished to have tasted more butternut squash.

Cheesecake Pops
with raspberry sauce and milk chocolate shell

For Restaurant Week, these little cake pops were the complimentary dessert. They are relatively large, enough to fill you up for dessert, if the meal hadn't filled you already. The shell is milk chocolate, sitting in a raspberry drizzle in the bottom of the 4" dish; the block is around 2" x 1 1/2" with cheesecake filling in middle. The filling was really more like a whipped ice cream, airy, reminiscent of Cadbury Flake ice cream in the UK. The flavor was touched by elegant vanilla bean. This did not taste like cheesecake; there was no real heavy cream and no graham crackers. It was like whipped ice cream but not too cold, just cool to room temp. Milk chocolate shell was room temp too. This was really good! Not too sweet either. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this!

My salad was around $12-15 and I had enough meat for two meals. This is a large portion. For Restaurant Week there were two course options with a choice of either wine or dessert on top of that. Splendid for $20! I look forward to trying the Kobe burger here, amongst many of the other options. The scents in this cafe are delightful and the prices are generally between $10-16 for entrees around lunchtime. Sit out on the patio if you can on a warm day; there is less noise and it is enjoyable as a side-walk cafe feel.

Rustica on Urbanspoon

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