Considering dinner there Sunday evening after a show, particularly becuase the bar's open all day and we'll have an hour or so to kill before the restaurant opens.
I've read several posts about it and it sounds solid, and the neighborhood ambiance is appealling. They'll be four of us. We're not looking for fancy, just good quality reasonably priced food.
But I'm wondering about the dining room. Is it just an extenstion of the bar or separate, and is it quiet enough to have a liesurely dinner and be able to hear one another? And I know they have great beer, but do they have a decent wine selection?
Would a la Lucia be a better choice?
Rustico has a new executive chef, Frank Morales. He has been doing a significant amount of tweaking to the menu, so I'll be looking forward to your review.
The restaurant area is separate from the bar and lounge. The noise level is medium to slightly high (once you see the decor, you'll see there's very little sounds absorption), but not to the point that it would interfere with conversation.
Another suggestion would be Del Merie Grille in the Calvery Building off Mt. Vernon Ave. Wonderful neighborhood restaurant with full bar, excellent service and fantastic food. I've not been to Rustico so cannot compare. But I LOVE Del Merie!
I went to Rustico with two friends a few months ago and really enjoyed it. We had two pizzas one with shrimp and a fabulous one with mushrooms. The dining room can get noisy but we were able to talk and be heard. That having been said, I also like AlaLucia a great deal too.
First, there really is no "neighborhood ambience" around Rustico. Apart from a very few on-street spaces, you must park behind the buildings with the dumpsters and walk around to the restaurant. All that's there is Rustico and Buzz, the pretentious pseudo-bakery across the street, and a couple of other shops that close early. There is really no neighborhood in the Old Town sense -- it's an industrial area that is being developed. (To be fair, a la Lucia is in a developing commercial/residential area as well, a decent walk north from the heart of old town.)
The food has been good lately, and the beer, as others have mentioned, is outstanding. The wine selection is pedestrian. In addition to the bar and its seating area, there are (4?) seats at a counter overlooking the kitchen, which are our favorites. As you enter the front door, the bar area is to your right, and the main dining area to your left, so, yes, it is separate.
Just got back from a meal there; surprisingly bad. Though the place wasn't full, the service was absent and mostly handled by a backup who made clear that she was just that. The tuna mosaic was bland and the dried beef was repetitious. The sides of spinach and grits were good, thanks to the amount of butter and cheese. I really wanted it to be good, but it was a disappointment.