Written by on September 15, 2012 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Ballston neighborhood, Arlington, Virginia

How I heard of this place: We moved into the neighborhood, we walked by, we loved the outdoor fountain and made it a point to return, after our successful first visit…a year later.

Type of cuisine: Rustic, American fare, with woodfire grilled flat-bread pizzas to steak, bacon-blue cheese mussels and fresh, creative pastas. The food exudes comfort. “By using only the finest and freshest available ingredients, including locally produced and organic products wherever possible, our menus reflect a commitment and respect for the ideals and heritage of honest, rustic cookingThere’s no mistaking Rustico’s love for barley & hops! The bar’s focal point is a custom galvanized inverted T bar with 30 brilliant taps book-ended by two massive coolers holding more than 331 different types of ales, lagers, ciders and stouts. If you need beer on the go, we’ve got you covered.  Grab a larger bottle of your favorite brew with a Rustico pizza for dinner or pick up a six-pack to take with you to a party.” 

Rustico Fries

Ambiance: The windowed storefront gives Rustico a sense of casual ambiance, until one enters the streamlined, warm tones of its interiors. Upon entering the small wind-blocking entryway, through one set of glass doors, patrons are welcomed into the warmth that is Rustico, by a two-way fireplace. Continuing through the second door and into the restaurant itself, a host and hostess welcome you, ask you to be seated at the rust-orange-colored cushion, set against a charcoal bench. The restaurant wraps in what seems like a large L-shape, extending out to the right as you stand facing the hostess podium, and directly ahead (perhaps also continuing around) as you make your way to the bar. The nude wooden, textured, planks lining one side of the wall, end at the spot where bench seating begins. A wall of glass mosaic denotes the corner, inner angle of the L, where brown and green glass bottles are artfully placed nose to nose and tail to tail from floor to ceiling in alternating colors to create a beautiful pattern. Tables and chairs are dark brown, nearly black in smooth, sleek tones, decorated with white napkins folded tightly in flame-resembling shapes. “Rustico is an exuberant neighborhood restaurant driven to deliver a one-two punch of honest, robust cooking against a backdrop of amazing beer. Warm, vivacious and adamantly unpretentious, Rustico was designed with good times in mind. With a cache of over 400 beers, a bustling bar scene and a passionate kitchen committed to its craft, Rustico’s a restaurant to visit with family and friends time and time again.” We chose the fountainside outdoor seating under the shadows of the leafy trees overhead, to enjoy our brunch alfresco.

What I ordered: Upon being seated, we knew immediately what we wanted and placed our order: cranberry juice ($3.75), thick cut fries ($5) tossed in your choice of caesar, ranch or truffled parmesan (Come on! Is there any question?), and three Brunch Burgers ($15 each), a large beef patty stacked atop one slice of Texas toast, potato hash, bacon, egg over medium, cheddar, and a drizzle of spicy hollandaise.

Brunch BurgerFor dessert, Baguette French Toast ($11), three golden mounds served with peach compote, maple syrup, and quickly melting whipped cream.French Toast

What I loved: The fries were amazing, light and flavorful, sizzling hot (freshly fried) and topped with grated Parmesan, a hint of truffle. The French Toast to die for – probably the best I have ever had – light and gooey, no need for maple syrup, while it definitely enhanced the sweetness and deliciousness of the dish. The melted cheddar on our burgers, the small-diced potatoes of the hash and the creamy hollandaise.Brunch Burger

Why I loved it: Casual with a hint of elegance, the space welcomes walk-ins and reservations, friendly staff and food worth returning for.

Cost: Average ($9-$15 per brunch entree)

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