Rusticucina is Sicilian restaurant located in between North Park and University Heights of San Diego. Rusticucina aims to reflect the merging of two cultures: American and Sicilian, that is also how they got their name! All their ingredients are locally sourced and used to create great dishes under one of their main chefs, Chef Marco Provino.
A major standout for me from this restaurant would definitely be their truffle cheese wheel pasta. This pasta dish was simply perfection and I still think about how amazing it was from time to time. Chef Marco brought out the pasta and the cheese wheel himself and mixed it together right in front of us which was the experience we were looking for. The pasta itself was a fettuccine pasta which is a relatively thick but flat noodle. It had a very satisfying mouth feel and was perfect for this dish. It was easy to tell how fresh the pasta was, and it was definitely freshly made in-house which is really amazing. The freshness is so obvious in its perfect texture and its taste. It was cooked perfectly and had the scent and taste of freshly cut and cooked pasta, it was an absolutely eye-opening experience that has me coming back for more. On top of that, the cheese wheel made the pasta extremely cheesy and rich, which is perfect for all cheese lovers (myself included). The cheese flavor was so rich yet not overpowering allowing the pasta flavor to come through. The cheese made the pasta very creamy and coated it very well. At the end, Chef Marco brought out a piece of truffle and shaved it into the pasta in front of us. If you are a truffle and cheese lover like me, this dish is to die for and I simply can not forget the joy it brought me.
I want to add that they also have the option to customize your pasta and choose what kinds of pasta and sauce you would like. This is a great option for those who are looking for something specific and do not want to simply settle for what is already pre-set. They even have black ink sauce for those who have been looking to experience squid ink pasta in San Diego. Their other sauces include grandma’s ragu, cacio e pepe, Sicilian pesto, carbonara, Nonna’s meatball, and wild boar sausage. And their pasta options include gnocchi, fettucine, paccheri, cavatelli, bucatini, spaghetti, pappardelle, gluten free penne, cheese ravioli and beef ravioli.
Their beef carpaccio was decent, but I cannot say that I would recommend it. For my personal taste, it was a bit too salty and I did not particularly enjoy the flavor either. Lemon juice definitely helped balance the flavors out and made it less salty, however, it was still not enjoyable for me. I believe if the beef itself had more flavor and depth rather than just salty, it would be a lot more enjoyable. It is such a shame because I really like beef and especially raw beef, but I was not able to fully enjoy this dish unfortunately.
Lastly, for dessert, we tried their deconstructed cannoli. Their ricotta cream was very enjoyable, it was sweet but not too overwhelmingly sweet and went well with the cannoli shells. This would be a great choice for a dessert if you really like cannolis. Their other dessert options include tiramisu pistachio, chocolate lava cake, limoncello cake, and crème brulee.
Overall, this was a great meal, everything was quite decent, but the truffle cheese wheel pasta was what really blew me away and took this meal to another level. I know for a fact that I will be going back to enjoy their cheese wheel pasta again as well as many other dishes that look and sound amazing. As a crème brulee enthusiast, I definitely need to try their crème brulee next time, and I might even double up on dessert and order their chocolate lava cake as well!
With their amazing ambiance, this would be the perfect place to take a date or if you just want to show your friends a great place to eat. If you want traditional and fresh Sicilian food in San Diego, I would definitely recommend Rusticucina!
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