When I found out that Steve Mannino was the chef at Rustico I added it to my list of places to visit while in the DC area. I liked his food when he worked at Olives in DC and Olives in Las Vegas. When we dined at Olives in Las Vegas he hooked us up after finding out we used to live in the DC area. So, Rustico was a “must-visit” on our trip back home.

Despite it’s 3.5 star average rating on Yelp on I thought the place was great, out of the way, locals spot. The food, while not the best I’ve ever had, was very good. The sweet and spicy pork ribs came four to an order and were stacked on a cucumber salad. The ribs could have used a little more kick, but there was plenty of tender meat on them. The order of mussels came in a large bowl filled with about a pound of them, along with some caramelized onions, blue cheese and bacon — delicious and large enough for our party of four. My wife and I split an order of their goat cheese dumplings, which came with a tomato sauce. The other two people we were dining with had a pizza and the “Half Chicken 2 Ways.” I didn’t try any of their food but they said they loved both dishes. For dessert we got the red velvet cheesecake (rich, smooth and creamy, although I could have done without the chocolate covered pretzel rods) and the dark chocolate cream tart (good but a little too sweet).

There is also a kids menu at Rustico. My little guy went with his go-to meal — chicken fingers (served with mashed potatoes) — and as usual he finished every last piece of chicken.

The best thing about the restaurant is the extensive beer list. They also offer beer flights! How sweet is that? The flight I tried with a couple stouts and porters was outstanding.

The service was pretty good. Our waitress took our order quickly and checked back in with us a few times throughout our meal without being too intrusive. The food came out fairly quickly despite the restaurant being busy and there were no mistakes with anything that we ordered. That seems simple, but too many places screw up the most basic orders.

Another good dining experience thanks to Chef Mannino’s food. We’ll definitely visit Rustico again the next time we’re in town.

4 Stars

827 Slaters Lane
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 224-5051

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