Me: So what is your background and how does it influence your cooking?
Executive Chef Steve Mannino: Well, (thoughtful pause) I come from a long line of fat Italians.
Last week I had the chance to enjoy a fabulous preview dinner at the soon-to-open Rustico Ballston. When we arrived the finishing touches were still being put together from the amazing industrial light fixtures by Rick Singleton to the glass and bottle wall mosaic, things were coming together nicely all in anticipation of this Tuesday’s opening. There was, however, no doubt that the kitchen was ready to go.
Dinner was served in the private seating area which was absolutely beautiful. I’m already racking my brain for a reason to host a private party there.
Our four-course dinner which was more realistically like 10 courses, was served with beer pairings presented by Greg Engert and Andy Carlson. While I could go on forever and thought everything was fantastic, here’s a quick rundown of my standout favorites.
Spicy Tuna Tartar
Salty, spicy and perfectly bite sized
The best grilled Caesar salad I have ever eaten
The moment I tried this I knew it was going to be my new favorite salad. The romaine is grilled and the dressing is cooked for two hours. I’m now attempting to patiently wait for the offical opening so I can come back for more!
Boston Bibb Salad with almonds, granola, smoked cheddar and cider vinaigrette
This was also really good especially if you like salads with a little sweetness and crunch.
Carrot Hummus with lamb sausage
I’ve never had a carrot hummus but man is this stuff delicious. The lamb cuts the creaminess of the dish making it a great combination.
Truffled Cous Cous Carbonara
This was at the top of my favorites list. Topped with a poached egg, it was rich, creamy and perfect for the fall. I will definatley order this again.
Pineland Farmers Strip Loin
Inspired by French Onion Soup, the loin is served with French onions over pan fried gruyere bread pudding.
I think we ended up tasting 8 beers so I will spare everyone my weak attempt at describing them. Here are two of my favorites.
Saison de Silly, Brasserie de Silly, Belgium
This was my favorite beer since I tend to like ones on the lighter side. It was served during the salad course.
Barley Wine, Brauerei Hofstetten, Austria
This was served with dessert and it was really good. It was a really nice complement to the sweetness of the dishes.