Pizzeria Rustica, Richmond, Surrey
I’ve been going to Pizzeria Rustica in Richmond for years. They opened in 1996 and I guess I’ve been going for a large part of that time. As often happens with favourite places, I’ve gone through phases of going to Pizzeria Rustica almost every week to going rarely. But after a ‘quiet’ period with the restaurant, I’ve been back a couple of times recently and suggested to friend Liz that we ate there last night. Our previous outing together, trying a new place, had been a bit of a disaster and never got as far as the blog, so Pizzeria Rustica seemed like a safe choice. It’s always good and, surprisingly, I hadn’t written about it on the blog yet. So, a little apologetically I got out my sparkling new iPhone 5 and said I hoped it was OK if I took photos. Fortunately my nice friends are very accommodating about me taking photos of their food before they touch it!
Booking a table at Pizzeria Rustica is always a good idea as it gets very busy. I left booking a little late and went in while in Richmond at lunchtime yesterday and almost didn’t get a table (so be warned if you want to go there!). After studying their table plan they said the only free table was by the door. Was that OK? I thought it was good they asked and I was able to warn Liz to wear something warm in case there was a draught as people came into the restaurant. As it turned out, we weren’t quite as close to the door in the end and we were fine. This is very much a pizzeria. Tables are squashed pretty close together and the whole effect is ‘rustic’ as the name suggests. But it was lively last night, the staff are friendly and efficient, and for me it’s an ideal place on a Friday evening for a good but informal meal. We ordered drinks and some bread and olives to start.
We commented on how good the olives were as we tucked in. I had a glass of Merlot from the Veneto and Liz had Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. We then went straight into main courses. Liz chose one of the Rustica Specials: Maiale (pork) – ‘roast succulent pork hock off the bone with red wine, tomatoes, orange zest and saffron rice’.
It looked very good and she said it was. I had one of the day specials: Roasted duck breast with red wine and blueberry sauce served with polenta.
I loved the idea of using blueberries in the sauce and it was delicous: rich and sweet. The duck was done slightly more than I’d ideally choose – I like mine quite pink in the middle – but it was still tender and tasted good. They were both great dishes for a windy, wet and cold April night! We were pretty full after this and decided against dessert but I ordered an espresso, that came with a cantuccino on the side and Liz had fresh mint tea.
A couple of hours after arriving, as we were ready to leave, the restaurant was still busy. They do great pizzas – their pizzas have won a number of awards – and I’d seen some go by so I asked if I could go to the little open kitchen at the back and take a photo of one before I left.
In you’re in the mood for pizza, then, as you can see, this is a great place to come. Pizzeria Rustica is great for any time of day and any appetite: from pizza, to salads, to lovely pasta dishes and risottos or main meat or fish dishes. It’s one of the few independent Italian restaurants around, just metres from Richmond station, and run by Italians – so you can practise your Italian too!