Porchetta is at the forefront of a tasty take-home charcuterie board.
3797 Park Blvd, San Diego
We were craving a meat and cheese platter but didn’t want to dine in at a restaurant due to the latest coronavirus surge. So I took a look around for take-out options, and saw that Sicilian restaurant Rusticucina offers a pretty tasty charcuterie board for 22 dollars.
Aged beef, fashioned into a giant and delicious meatball
Part of the fun with charcuterie boards is presentation. So while the chef selected meats and cheeses and packed them in a cardboard take-out container, once I got it home, I got to work arranging everything on a cutting board. Porchetta, prosciutto, and mortadella were joined by a couple crumbly blocks of parmesan, a semi-soft sage infused cheese, and a winy harder cheese. Finishing my home-arranged board were dried cranberries and a garnish of mixed greens. A bottle of pinot noir completed the pre-dinner snack.
A fire element spruces up the still-open dining patio of opened in 2020 Sicilian restaurant, Rusticucina.
For those enough brave enough to dine out these days, Rusticucina has spaced out its patio, which is dressed with plants, shade, and a fire table. The Hillcrest restaurant opened in February, so it’s barely had a chance to entertain guests in its verdant, wood accented dining room, and it’s heartbreaking to see it sitting empty. But I’ve had good luck grabbing to-go orders.
The "grandma's ragu" pasta sauce, served over bucatini
A definite highlight was another appetizer, the dry-aged meatball. Tender and deeply savory, the softball sized meatball was draped in melted mozzarella and sitting in a blend of tomato sauce and bechamel for $13.
I’m not sure what specific meat blend goes into it, but it compares well to one of several “build your own pasta” sauces, grandma’s ragu ($18) a tomato-based sauce made with a mix of beef, veal, and pork. Made in-house pastas on the menu include gnocchi, fettucini, tubular paccheri, and a gluten-free penne. With the ragu, I opted for bucatini, which made for a hearty dish, though I would have liked more meat.
Pesto and sun dried tomatoes over bread-roll shaped cavatelli
Another pasta that didn’t require any meat was the Sicilian pesto, which I tried with cavatelli, a sort of shell pasta shaped like small, sliced bread rolls. The toothsome pasta gave satisfying chew to the basil and sun dried tomato sauce.
The child-approved "Rustic" flatbread, featuring pepperoni, bacon, and sausage
But what truly won over the household — including a couple of Dominoes-loving kids — was a pizza. Actually, though it’s made with tomato sauce and melted cheese, they label the oblong Rustic pizza a flatbread. Topped with pepperoni, bacon, and sausage, the wood-fired flatbread features a fat, doughy crust that easily counts it among the best pizza options in Hillcrest. Which immediately makes it one of the best take-out options in the neighborhood, even if you skip the charcuterie.