Urban sprawl brings new opportunities for exciting dining options. There is no better place to explore than Alpharetta, and we enjoyed a delightful gourmet experience recently. We’d been out enjoying the local arts and crafts festival, then escaped the heat with a movie. Having snacked only on street fair, we were famished by 6:30. A friend had suggested Rustica off Crabapple, just past the Silos, we called for a reservation (recommended) since it was a Saturday evening.
Upon arrival we were greeted warmly and seated immediately. Each of us ordered a glass of wine, which was served in a virtual blink of an eye (I kept looking around to see if the bottles were on the next table!) The wine list had a reasonable selection of quality well-known standards. The daily specials were described in mouthwatering detail, the choice was difficult. We bought a bit of time with an order of the brushetta of the day, in this case, a tomato/basil topped grilled bread. It was delicious, high marks for creativity in preparation. Thinly sliced sourdough with chunks (not diced) tomato, basil bits and wonderful cheese. This beats those mammoth mouthfuls of bread so common in most bruschettas.
Feeling adventurous we each explored a different dish, I had the tomato orzo with basil, grilled chicken and goat cheese. It was well done, simple, but very flavorful and best of all the orzo was cooked to perfection. I was able to steal samples of my friends orders including, the grilled chicken breast with Israeli couscous, coffee bean barbecue sauce (this sounded too marvelously exotic to pass up!) The couscous was most original, almost risotto like with pearl pasta and corn, finessed beautifully, the chicken with coffee bean barbecue sauce, a masterpiece. The third dish was their popular rigatoni with chicken and wild mushroom ragout. It had a hearty mushroom flavor, enhanced by freshly grated parmesan cheese. Overall the food suited the name, Rustica, a unique blend of Italian and Middle Eastern flavors prepared with panache. (I also ordered the special vegetable, fried spinach. A bit salty, but a taste worth trying, it is the only way spinach can be considered light and airy, it is served literally transparent and crunchy!) Next time, I’ll have try the encrusted salmon, another favorite dish of regulars.
Feeling still decadent, we each ordered dessert. The flourless chocolate cake got rave reviews from my friend the chocolate expert. I give kudos to their chocolate nut brownie, being a baker myself, I was impressed.
Started back in February 1998 by Wolfgang Stoffer and Joseph Lovaglio, Rustica is a comfortable neighborhood bistro. Wolfgang, you may recognize from his days at Ma Maison or as proprietor of Wolfie’s. While his partner, Joseph, has managed restaurants for many years, they met working together. Wolfgang is chef extraordinaire, heading up all culinary operations. Joseph is master host and runs the dining room. Clearly they have a success here, and we hope they’ll consider adding another restaurant to this one.
Rustica’s decor has a fun folk art twist. They do have some lively and funky “rusted” art sculpture, a large fish crafted from license plates, otherwise it is quiet in forest greens. They’ve been in business for almost threee years now, and have built a solid following based on word of mouth. Do give them a try, even last minute can be easily available, just call first, well worth a drive.
12315 Crabapple Road