Rustica Cucina Italiana or Rustica as the locals have shortened it to pretty much since it opened in 2006. This is definitely a local favorite as evident by the restaurant being awarded the “Best of the Best” from the community for Italian food for the past 8 years. Chef/Owner John Stowe may be self-taught but he is a great study and a lot of restaurant experience. He has created a wonderful restaurant and developed a great staff to compliment his efforts. The balance of food quality, food quantity and price point works well here and blends harmoniously with the décor and the service level. This is not easily achieved nor often achieved.
The menu changes probably twice a year and there are always daily specials offered.
The focus is fresh and authentic ingredients for his Italian and Mediterranean dishes. They make the sausage, bread and desserts all on premise. This is not your red checkered tablecloth serve too much spaghetti than 3 people could possibly eat type of Italian. He raises it up a notch or two always surprising you with just a little extra spice or ingredient to enhance the flavors in the dish. The portions are not huge but they are certainly plentiful and the desserts – wow!
As with many of our favorite Rockland restaurants, Rustica is relatively small seating 80 people when utilizing the bar, tables and the side dining room that can also be used for small functions. It is open year round for dinner service from 5-9pm. Generally open Tuesday through Saturday and adds Monday nights in the busy season. Unfortunately except for parties of 5 or more or on holidays like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve the restaurant does not take reservations. If you do show up and there is a wait, there is a wonderful bar in the center of the restaurant where you can also dine or sit back and relax with a drink. The bar is known for making wonderful “tini” drinks – appletinis, Lemon Drop’Tinis, etc..
If you are craving Italian tonight you cannot go wrong with dinner at Rustica in Rockland, ME.