There are some evenings when you visit a bar or restaurant, and everything clicks into place. You have a mental checklist of things would make your experience great, and one by one, those items are checked off. That’s what Bar Native found when visiting Pizza Rustica in Lakeview last Friday night. Convenient location? Check. Stylish and lively atmosphere? Check. Great drinks? Check. Delicious food? Check. Awesome Spring weather? Check.
Ok, Pizza Rustica really can’t claim any credit for the extremely mild day we enjoyed. All praise to Mother Nature for that. However, they certainly took advantage of it. Their patio was ready to go, and quickly filled with an after-work crowd. The windows were also open, and we happily snagged a table with a perfect view of the activity indoors and out; and there was a lot of activity to be seen. The bar and restaurant filled up just as quickly as the patio had.
Pizza Rustica really is a beautiful space, featuring an open-view kitchen that is surprisingly cohesive with the rest of the space. And just steps from the Red Line, the location is excellent.
Our opening round of drinks, the bourbon-based Dancing Buffalo and the rum-based Rum D’Oro were excellent; strong and with a great blend of flavors. Another cocktail sampled, the Spicy Ginger Lime, had just the right amount of Jalapeno, adding the requisite kick without overpowering the drink. We also polished off a couple of Temperance Beer Company’s Smittytown ESBs. In my far-reaching research, I’m fortunate to be able to sample a lot of beer. That being said, Smittytown was one of the best beers I’ve had in recent memory. It was truly exceptional.
To start, we selected the Mozzarella Fritta which, for a surprising change, was light, delicious, and not-overly fried or greasy. Three large pieces were a very generous portion. Our other appetizer was a sausage and polenta dish. The sausage was tasty and well-paired with the creamy polenta, one of our favorite comfort foods.
After those two large appetizers, we settled for a medium-sized Margherita pizza with crumbled sausage. Normally we opt for a large pizza and plan for leftovers, but our server explained that the large would be roughly the size of our tabletop. We scaled down and still had leftovers. The pizza was light and tasty, and the crumbled sausage was definitely a perfect flavor addition. We were pretty stuffed by that point, but still, in the spirit of research, of course, managed to finish a delicious hunk of tiramisu.
Service at Pizza Rustica was excellent; the server was highly-attentive and offered suggestions that were spot-on. We also had an opportunity to chat with one of the owners, Juliana, who besides being a engaging host, was truly hands-on, consulting with staff, chatting with customers, and visibly enjoying the vibe of her establishment as much as the patrons. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
Very highly recommended! Thanks Pizza Rustica!