Pizza Rustica Review (August 07)
It’s been a while since I dined at Pizza Rustica. I have very fond memories of this spot, but tonight’s dinner was thoroughly meh. I’ve talked up this place on the Toronto food boards… but I’ll be stopping that now.
We arrived at about 7:00 on a Friday and sat at the bar. The space beside us remained piled with empty pitchers and glasses throughout the evening, and it was a little… icky.
Mr. Rabbit started with a margarita while I had a glass of Wolf Blass yellow label cab. The wine was predicatably quaffable, but the marg was sub-par… we’ve been summering the US, where bartending is a much more refined and respected art, and to be back in the land of crushed ice and carton-whirred margs was definitely disappointing. It was OK in that junk-food-y kind of way, but not really a very good cocktail.
We decided to split the “pizza rustica,” but started with a green salad (Rabbit!) and an Italian wedding soup (Mr.!). The salad was fresh and generous, made more interesting by roasted red peppers and olives. The wedding soup was OK - not grandma’s by any stretch, but still an interesting menu item and “correctly” executed. The pizza itself was a thin-ish crust with cheese, peppers, tomatoes and cured ham. It was OK too… but no Terroni.
What struck me most about this experience, was how different it was from my last visit to PR. Last time I visited, we were a party of four on a winter night. The place was cozy and clean, the owner was present and attentive, and the food was fresh, authentic, imaginative, and… (I know this turn of phrase is gag-y) “lovingly prepared.” Tonight, they were cranking it out for the tourists, and while nothing was “bad” the whole experience was indelicate and felt rushed (and the rush-y-ness wasn’t even because they wanted to turn our seats at the bar, rather because it felt “wrong” - and I wanted to get out).
You know how sometimes you get half-way into dinner and you get this sinking feeling that you wish you could just “do-over” - … that was Pizza Rustica tonight.
Sorry to hear you had a bad experience there. I'd be bothered too with a pile of dirty pitchers and glasses next to me as well.
A friend and I had to sit at the high top table in front of the kotchen/serving area once. It was awkward as waitresses were picking up orders right behind my back most of the meal. But the entire staff was really cool and they accomodated us in an otherwise packed resturaunt. Also got to see what they were doing on the prep area and all looked really good.
I had a meal with my partner here on Sunday night and it was great as usual. The service was excellent. The food all tasted good. Kitchen was a bit backed up but we were kept informed and it wasn't really a big deal. So probably could have just been an off night when you were there.
I've been here about 4 times. It's the standby when in the area or seeing something at the Deisel Theatre. I don't think I'd make a trip specifically just to go to Pizza Rustica but have always had good meals there and it's been consistantly good on on the service end of things too. There's not a lot of options in the area, also the price is very reasonable compared to what you would pay up the street.
But again, stuff like you described would ruin my meal too.
Thanks for the post. I have to say I really love some of the language you have used here, particularly "fresh and generous" for the salad. What a warm and wonderful way to describe it. Look forward to reading more reviews from you in future.
And so I'm not totally off-topic I'll agree and say that in my opinion the restaurant's goodness is not an objective good, but more of a relative good compared to the rest of the icky tourist crap in the area. I also admit to being a little ticked that they charge extra for whole wheat crust.