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Making the best of Rustic Kitchen

Blumie Jul 23, 2008 05:21 PM

Took out my aunt and uncle last night. They wanted casual Italian, but didn't want to venture too far from Park Square, so I chose Rustic Kitchen over Maggiano's (an easy choice IMHO, even if it is the lesser of two evils). Fortunately, I have enough Rustic Kitchen experience to be able to have an enjoyable meal at the place.

First course: calamari. Rustic Kitchen makes consistently good calamari. Not the lightest batter you'll find (for great light calamari, go to B&G), but still good. Crunchy without any chewyness. Served with large, raw jalapenos slices and drizzled with aioli (too much IMHO; if you're sensitive, you might want to order it on the side).

Second course: pizza. Rustic Kitchen makes excellent pizzas. My favorite is the sausage, which includes slices of sweet Italian sausage and sweet red pepper. I have them add slices of the jalapenos they serve with the calamari; the combination works really well.

Beverages: they offer a decent wines-by-the-glass list and a decent (not great, but decent) beer selection, both on tap and in bottles.

I don't have a lot of experience with the rest of the menu, but the other things I've tried have not been nearly as successful. But two people could share the calamari, a pizza, perhaps a salad, and have a really nice, moderately priced meal.

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  1. scubahood10 RE: Blumie Jul 24, 2008 06:50 AM

    Just curious why it was an easy choice for you over Maggiano's? I have never been to the Kitchen but always wanted to try it. However I have been to Maggiano's countless times and while it's not the greatest meal of my life I have never come away disappointed either. I will mention that I went there on the night I got engaged so that adds some nice memories. But I would go there just for that incredible slab of fried mozzarella. If anyone can point me to some fried cheese like that at a place that does better Italian then I am all for it!

    2 Replies
    1. re: scubahood10
      hotoynoodle RE: scubahood10 Jul 24, 2008 07:06 AM

      i've never been to maggiano's, but anchovies does good fried mozz, good neighborhood italian and is dirt cheap. it's about as far away from chain mentality as you can get. for that matter giacomo's right next door is good too, and neither is so far from park square.

      1. re: scubahood10
        iL Divo RE: scubahood10 Apr 22, 2013 05:41 AM

        I chose it yesterday over Maggiano's because Mag uses tarragon in their bolognese and I dislike tarragon so decided on RK. however although they use no tarragon in their bolognese they do use nutmeg in it. I ordered it/tasted first bite and thought nope. very pale beige sauce, very creamy which I have no problem with but very little tomato flavor and an off background note. I instead got the baked rigatoni which was phenom...

      2. g
        gourmaniac RE: Blumie Jul 24, 2008 07:21 AM

        I think Rustic Kitchen and Maggiano's are really two different kettes of fish. At it's price point and family style ambience, I agree with scubahood10 that Maggiano's is surprisingly good and it fills a niche. Rustic kitchen is a step up in price and the food is food distinctive. Another Park Square option is Davio's. I've not been to this location but other Davio's have been good and fit the OP's request for casual Italian but the cooking is a bit better than rustic kitchen IMHO.

        6 Replies
        1. re: gourmaniac
          Blumie RE: gourmaniac Jul 24, 2008 10:48 AM

          Davio's is fancier than we were looking for. I know that Maggiano's has its fan, as evidenced by this thread. I, however, think it sucks.

          1. re: Blumie
            yumyum RE: Blumie Jul 24, 2008 11:17 AM

            "Maggiano's has its fan." Exactly.

            1. re: yumyum
              Blumie RE: yumyum Jul 25, 2008 07:39 AM

              : )

            2. re: Blumie
              Boston_Otter RE: Blumie Apr 22, 2013 07:00 AM

              It has more than one 'fan' -- quite frankly, I've found the food, service, and prices at Maggiano's far better than what I've experienced in the North End. Great for big groups, too. Best Italian food ever? Not by a long shot. But a very decent choice.

              1. re: Boston_Otter
                kimfair1 RE: Boston_Otter Apr 22, 2013 08:35 AM

                I think that their spinach/artichoke dip is just about the best I've had. I'm not a fan of anything else there, but it serves it's purpose, much like Rustic Kitchen does for me.

                1. re: Boston_Otter
                  Ricardo Malocchio RE: Boston_Otter Apr 22, 2013 04:04 PM

                  I agree with you. To the extent Maggiano's shines, it's because the North End rarely does. There is no reason why Italian food should suck so bad in this city. And yet... there it is.

            3. m
              meeps2002 RE: Blumie Apr 22, 2013 07:09 AM

              I think they have the best Caesar Salad in town, imo

              1 Reply
              1. re: meeps2002
                catsmeow RE: meeps2002 Apr 22, 2013 07:48 AM

                Their chopped salad is my favorite salad.

              2. C. Hamster RE: Blumie Apr 22, 2013 03:10 PM

                These days I'd choose Mag over RK.

                I used to be a Mag hater, but dragged along 'cause my work friends liked the veal parm.

                In the past 2 years the food has drastically improved. To the point that we used them to cater some lunches to pretty good reviews

                Have no explanation for this.

                RK has never done it for me.

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