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Rusticucina offers homey, or take-home, Sicilian

Get your pizza, pasta, and charcuterie fix in Hillcrest

Porchetta is at the forefront of a tasty take-home charcuterie board.
Porchetta is at the forefront of a tasty take-home charcuterie board.
Place

RustiCucina

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.

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Porchetta is at the forefront of a tasty take-home charcuterie board.
Porchetta is at the forefront of a tasty take-home charcuterie board.
Place

RustiCucina

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.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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