HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


a la Lucia or Rustico

  • 8

Looking for a neighborhood place in Old Town for dinner Sunday night after a show.

They'll be four of us. Not looking for fancy, just good quality, reasonably priced food, and a decent wine list. Want a spot with character but non-stuffy atmosphere. I read the boards and both seem to fit the bill. Though there's less available info. for Rustico. Has anyone been to both? Should I been leaning more toward one than the other? TIA

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I prefer A La Lucia of the two. I prefer the food and the wine list there. Both can be a bit noisy (especially Rustico) but ask for the back room at A La Lucia when you make your reservation.

    1. I've been to both, they are completely different in my eyes. If you're looking for a good wine list then head for A La Lucia, it's is ten times longer than at Rustico, which is more of a beer place. The pizza is excellent at Rustico but from your description you're looking for AL more than Rustico.

      I recommend a reservation for either place.

      1. A lot of the management and waitstaff at A La Lucia is ex-Galileo from the late 1990s, when the service there used to be much better. The owner is the ex-restaurant manager from Galileo, and knows his Italian wines. And I totally agree on the food -- reliable and not overly-expensive.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bordeauxfan

          He does. And he knows how to rip you off on California wines in his adjacent wine shop, so beware. The food is consistently good at a la Lucia, but we find the back room, although quiet, to be quite sterile (as in boring). The life of the restaurant is in the front dining room.

          1. re: pltrgyst

            In a sense true but it depends on personal taste. I prefer the back room because it is more quiet, less traffic, fewer people staring at you from the door obviosuly wishing you would eat faster so they could have your table.

        2. I have found the food at Rustico to be disappointing -- although they did just hire a new chef who is redoing the menu -- but love the beer selection there. If you're willing to go with pizza and beer, it's a fine choice. The food at A La Lucia is much, much better in my view. I really like that restaurant a lot. If food is what you're looking for, A La Lucia is the way to go.

          1. Thanks for the valuable input. I'm calling a la Lucia for a res.

            1. Had a delicious meal last night at a la Lucia. What a find. I only wish we lived closer. Quick recap....yummy mini bruschetta courtesy of the chef, baked fennel with parmesan gratin, meatballs with polenta, and grilled vegi antipasti for starters. The stand outs were the fennel and meatballs, not to be missed. The antipasti was served way too cold, IMO, which detracted from its flavor. Main courses: grilled scallops with delicious and lightly fried zuchinni (made for terrific complements), veal scallopine with parmesan gratin (MMmmm) and sage wine sauce, rigatoni with hot sausage, and frutti di mare. The hot sausage was crumbled to make a true meat sauce, which is so hard to find and so wonderful. Extremely high quality fresh ingredients all around. We'll definitely be back. The only drawback was the service, which was lackluster at best (and we were there at 5 on a Sunday...there were more staff than patrons), and the courses weren't well paced. Food came out of the kitchen at lightening speed.