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Restaurant Review – Rustica

Rustica is located in the heart of Downtown Kalamazoo on the Mall. They opened in 2009 and cater to foodies, like myself. According to their website, Rustica “blends influences from France, Italy, Spain, and other European countries along with regional Michigan fare.” They also use many local farmers in the area to supply the food for their menus. Pretty cool. We all met at Principle right next door to have a pre dinner cocktail, then walked over to Rustica. Lucky for us Rustica started taking reservations about a year ago.

A quick note on the service at Rustica. It’s excellent. They are there when you need them, almost anticipating your needs before you know. Yet they aren’t annoying. They don’t pop up every five seconds. They leave you to enjoy your food and drink. It’s kind of an art.

As a group, we decided to order a few starters to share as a table. We went with their SCALLOPS, the PORK BELLY, and the CHARCUTERIE BOARD. In my previous visit I had their bone marrow and it was delicious! Probably the only bone marrow I’ve really enjoyed. The plates came promptly and they were AMAZING!

I was a bit confused by the SCALLOPS at first because they were rather small. But let me tell you….the flavor was BIG. They were possibly some of the best scallops I’ve ever had. They were served in a lemon parsley risotto that was beyond delicious. If I’m being honest, I was pretty bummed that I had to share these with four other people.

The CHARCUTERIE BOARD was awesome. The cured meats, which they do in house, were great. I had no idea what meats they were, but I loved all of them. There was also a grilled bread that was perfect with the mustard that was included on the board.

THE BEST starter was the PORK BELLY. Oh my goodness, I can’t even tell you. It was a mix of tender and crispy. Salty and flavorful. Just awesome. And once again, I just was disappointed that there wasn’t more, or maybe that there were so many people to have to share it with. My mouth is seriously watering right now as I type this and think back to that pork belly!

After much debate, I decided on the FISH…. maybe the best fish dish I have ever had! It was cooked (& served) in parchment paper. The fish had capers and green olives on it and was buried in some potatoes and other vegetables (cue mouth watering, again.) I loved the presentation. Even the parchment paper that it was served in was pretty!

My friend had ordered pasta that looked so amazing, and I asked to try. It was PAPPARDELLE, so it was the wide, fat noodles which are made in house each day. If I’m being honest, I have no idea what the sauce was or what else was in the pasta, I just know it was to die for! It was rich, but not so rich that she couldn’t enjoy more than a few bites. It was a large portion, but not so large (like some pasta dishes can get) that it seemed impossible to make a dent in it.

Next, I tried my other friend’s entrée, the TRITIP KOBE STEAK. It was perfect. A little pink on the inside with a crusty blackened crust on the outside. Super tender and amazingly seasoned. I really enjoyed the potato that came with the steak. It was built almost like a potato lasagna where they took think slices of potato and piled them up, baked them (I’m assuming) and then cut them into squares. They were topped with a sour cream & bits of delicious bacon. Delish! It also came with some lovely shredded brussels that rounded out the plate nicely.

Altogether, we had an amazing meal together.

The ambiance and atmosphere was perfect.

The service was on point.

The real star was their food. I will be dreaming of that fish until I go back & try their next wonderful meal.

Elizabeth Buckley is a hairstylist by day and 24/7 food enthusiast. She visits restaurants in the Kalamazoo area and blogs about her experience at feedmekzoo.com

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