A good first impression is important when entering a restaurant and Cucina Rustica does not disappoint. The outside is clean, new, and open with large glass windows. It makes you want to walk in. When you do, you step into a large, welcoming room with nice ceilings, custom soft lighting and fresh flowers on each table. You are quickly greeted with a smile by Maitre d’ Allen Mousaian and escorted to your table. Upon being seated you begin to notice the Italian murals and the well stocked bar that looks like the kind you see in paintings. Ah, you can relax, enjoy the scenery, and have a nice conversation because the noise level is well managed. This is the place to take friends you haven’t talked to in a while or business clients. You can actually hear them!
Then there’s the bread. I could make a meal of this bread. It’s warm, fresh, soft and chewy at the same time. I don’t know where they get it but in all of my dining out I have never found any like this. As you peruse the Italian menu you realize there are lots of choices here at very reasonable prices. A good place to start is with the stuffed mushroom appetizer. Pop a few of these ricotta, bacon, and basil filled gems and get ready for the next course. There are gourmet pizzas, pasta dishes, meats, poultry and seafood. I enjoy the Pasta Al Salmone with smoked salmon in a creamy tomato dill sauce. There are always specials too. The other day I had the freshest mussels over linguine in a perfect broth. Believe it or not if meatloaf is on the menu, try it. They serve it with gravy and steak fries and you will clean your plate. I mention this because it is a well-kept secret.
Cucina Rustica gets high marks in my book. They are excelling in atmosphere, service, flavor and presentation. You can find them at 2276 Honolulu Ave., near the corner of Honolulu and Ocean View. Owners Albert and Angeil Shahmoradian have done so well here that they opened a second restaurant in the Financial District in downtown Los Angeles.
So do visit us here in Montrose and please don’t forget your favorite small stores. It has been a cold winter so far, and we are missing all of our friends. Come out, come out wherever you are! You will be glad you did!