Food at Rustico 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
We visited Rothschild Boulevard’s Rustico on a rainy night. I had received an
invitation for their Lemon Festival some weeks back promising a Country Menu for
the restaurant’s sixth anniversary in that location.
We arrived at the
cozy place after dodging the rivers of south Tel Aviv resulting from the first
rains of winter. Rustico’s low ceilings and warm atmosphere provided comfortable
shelter from the fresh storms.
The 10-day Festival of Lemons will run
from December 1-10. We were the first patrons to taste the restaurant’s culinary
appreciation of the tangy citrus.
Our host greeted us at the table with
the house sparkling white wine, a Brut, that is exported from near Tuscany
especially for the restaurant. With that, our waiter placed an appetizer of
whole zucchinis stuffed with ricotta and Parmesan cheese, covered in a light
lemon-butter sauce (NIS 37). We tried a pizza called the Rustico Limon, which
was topped with mozzarella, asparagus shoots, cured lemons, a whole egg baked on
the pizza and a few slivers of spicy chili (NIS 55).
The pizza combined
flavors worthy of a lemon festival. The earthy asparagus were mellow alongside
the sweet-cured lemon slices. We were surprised by the dominant flavor of lemon
on a pizza, but it was a welcome surprise. The other vegetables supported the
citrus well, giving the pizza a uniquely country flavor.
To pair with our
mains, we ordered a 2009 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I chose a paparadella pasta
dish – one of my favorite noodles – with spinach and peas in a lemon-thyme cream
sauce (NIS 55). Not wanting to pass up fish, my date ordered the European sea
bass on a bed of asparagus with white wine, lemon confit and fresh herbs (NIS
The pasta dish was the star of the two. The chefs made sure the
paparadella was cooked through but still firm. The sauce was creamy but not
heavy. The lemon played a key role in this dish as well, giving good body to the
sauce, while the vegetables added a savory element to the dish.
was a little undercooked but was saved by the lightly grilled asparagus, which
was smoky but fresh due to the wine and lemon sauce.
For dessert we had
profiteroles filled with pistachio ice cream on lemony white chocolate sauce
(NIS 42). We also ordered Baba el Limoncello with whipped cream, which the
waiter plated at the table from a silver tiffin (NIS 39).
profiteroles were flaky and light, and the pistachio ice cream was creamy and
subtly flavored, complementing the pastry. The white chocolate sauce, while
uninspired, added a smoothness to the overall dish.
The Baba el
Limoncello was a sponge cake accompanied by a generous dollop of whipped cream
and topped with a splash of limoncello, a citrus liqueur typically served after
an Italian meal. It was light and delightfully presented. The limoncello was the
dominant flavor, adding a tangy twist to the buttery cake and soft whipped
After a swig of grappa, we left the restaurant back into the rain,
sated and satisfied. The lemon theme left us feeling like summer – a welcome
reprieve from the first true week of winter.
Festival Sagra will be held
until December 10.The writer was a guest of the
restaurant.Rustico Not kosher 15 Rothschild Ave., Tel Aviv Open every
day from noon to midnight 42 Basel, Tel Aviv Sun-Thurs from noon to midnight
Fri-Sat from 8:30 a.m.(03) 510-0039; (03) 602-6969