La Rustica offers intimate dining
Step into the intimate Italian courtyard. Put your name on the list and wander around back for a glass of Chianti in the outdoor garden by summer or in the cozy, old country indoor nook by winter. And get ready for a romantic evening, reminiscent of the Italian Riviera, yet nestled between residences right here on Beach Drive.
Presenting La Rustica - a "molta romantica" beach bistro.
The name, La Rustica, means "rustic" as the atmosphere suggests, but also refers to the cuisine found within.
"La cucina rustica," passionately explains owner Giulio Pellegrini with gesturing hands. "It's like a rustic kitchen, or rustic-style Italian cooking."
Pellegrini opened the bistro's doors in 1996.
"I like the small town feel of West Seattle," says Pellegrini. "That's why we came here from the start."
Pellegrini grew up in a tiny Italian town called Patrica, south of Rome. At age 19 he crossed the Atlantic to earn a degree in art. He began with painting and sculpture but eventually turned his artistic emphasis from the palette to palate with his culinary curiosity.
"I taught myself how to cook, and if I didn't understand something, I'd call my mother in Italy to help me," he recalls. "I always wanted to make sure I was keeping it authentic."
Now, as you can see (and certainly taste), Pellegrini's preparations and the environs are exactly that - not to mention artful. His degree came in handy when it was time for d/cor. Created by Guilio and his children, the restaurant features countless details that resemble his home: realistic cracks in the butter-yellow walls exposing stone masonry, Italian-inspired pedestals and overflowing flower vases - even the bathroom sings Italy (step inside to see it for yourself).
But according to Pellegrini, it's not pretty presentation that packs the house each night. It's the hard work put in each day and the engaging of guests each step along the way.
"Your experience starts the moment you walk in," he describes. "First you need to find a smile and feel comfortable here. Next, the wait staff should take care of you. And then, finally, comes the food."
But the process begins well before entering the door.
"We are here from nine o'clock in the morning [though they open at 5 p.m.]," he explains. "My wife Janie is making desserts and tending the flowers. And come June and July, you'll see why - this is one of the best gardens in West Seattle."
He proudly admits her chocolate torte is the best in town. "It just melts in your mouth, literally."
While others say the same about his signature lamb shank.
"Yes, everybody loves the lamb shank," he nods. "I once took it off the menu in summer, as it is not a typical summer dish, but people went crazy. So, it's back."
Some of Pellegrini's other people pleasers include his vitello scampi (veal wrapped in prawns with marsala), filet Gorgonzola, and made-to-order cioppino. La Rustica is also known for the fresh-baked focaccia and the extensive, all-Italian wine list.
So bring a loved one down to this intimate beach bistro to taste a slice of Italian life, and toast "salute" to West Seattle's own ristorante romantica.
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What: La Rustica
Where: 4100 Beach Dr. S.W.
When: Hours are Tue.-Thur. 5-10 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 5-10:30 p.m.; Sun. 5-9:30 p.m.
Price: Entrees run $12.95-29.95
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