It’s been a while since I dined at Pizza Rustica. I have very fond memories of this spot, but tonight’s dinner was thoroughly meh. I’ve talked up this place on the Toronto food boards… but I’ll be stopping that now.
We arrived at about 7:00 on a Friday and sat at the bar. The space beside us remained piled with empty pitchers and glasses throughout the evening, and it was a little… icky.
Mr. Rabbit started with a margarita while I had a glass of Wolf Blass yellow label cab. The wine was predicatably quaffable, but the marg was sub-par… we’ve been summering the US, where bartending is a much more refined and respected art, and to be back in the land of crushed ice and carton-whirred margs was definitely disappointing. It was OK in that junk-food-y kind of way, but not really a very good cocktail.
We decided to split the “pizza rustica,” but started with a green salad (Rabbit!) and an Italian wedding soup (Mr.!). The salad was fresh and generous, made more interesting by roasted red peppers and olives. The wedding soup was OK - not grandma’s by any stretch, but still an interesting menu item and “correctly” executed. The pizza itself was a thin-ish crust with cheese, peppers, tomatoes and cured ham. It was OK too… but no Terroni.
What struck me most about this experience, was how different it was from my last visit to PR. Last time I visited, we were a party of four on a winter night. The place was cozy and clean, the owner was present and attentive, and the food was fresh, authentic, imaginative, and… (I know this turn of phrase is gag-y) “lovingly prepared.” Tonight, they were cranking it out for the tourists, and while nothing was “bad” the whole experience was indelicate and felt rushed (and the rush-y-ness wasn’t even because they wanted to turn our seats at the bar, rather because it felt “wrong” - and I wanted to get out).
You know how sometimes you get half-way into dinner and you get this sinking feeling that you wish you could just “do-over” - … that was Pizza Rustica tonight.