La Cucina Rustica in Oxford, CT:
Quick Gripe: In this day and age an appropriate webpage should be a must! To have a website on a “free” site is unacceptable! I hope they aren’t paying someone to “host” this site for them. My advice is to go to www.godaddy.com and buy your domain name and then transfer all the files over for your webpage.
Brief Description: La Cucina Rustica is located in Oxford, CT on route 67. It is a small place with seating for 64. They serve Italian foods and pizza. They also have a full service bar.
Review: We decided to go to La Cucina Rustica (LCR hereafter) the other night for a quick meal after dealing with a long day. There were 6 of us who went. Upon pulling up to LCR I was VERY disappointed! The grounds of LCR are a MESS!!! I can not stress this enough. The weeds growing out of their flowerbeds and patio were 5 feet tall! Immediately I was put off and suggested we go somewhere else, but the rest over ruled me. LCR looked like a deserted building because of the grounds-keeping, or lack there of! First impressions make the biggest impression! Upon entering the restaurant we were ushered to a back corner table that was not conducive to talking to your dinner companions or even eating. I politely asked if we could move to a center table and the hostess/waitress happily obliged my request and sat us in the middle, Thank you! Also, several of the booths had huge rips in the material that were fixed with duct tape :( Cover them or fix them with something other than duct tape. Needless to say, I was very disappointed in the look of LCR, and if I had my way it would have effected my choice of eating there.
Service: There appeared to only be two waitresses/hostess/do everything working. We had to wait more than 5 minutes to put in a drink order. The service was slow, but pleasant. We waited for 15 minutes before our food orders were taken. Our food when delivered was brought out over the course of five minutes. I was not particularly happy with that because we waited for everyone to get their food before we ate. While there are some issues their that they need to correct, overall the two waitresses were pleasant and helpful for the most part, just hire one more.
Drinks: The house wine, Little Penguin (Australian), is $16 a bottle. No one wanted wine this evening, so we passed on looking at the wine list. The beer selection is advertised by Corona (wait, isn’t that Mexican beer?), and there displays when you walk in suggesting Miller Chill and another Southwestern drink that I can’t recall. Our drinks came relatively quick and the mixed drinks were of healthy size, no complaints there.
Food: Overall, the food was good despite the look and ambiance of LCR. The red sauce was fresh tasting with that sweetness you get from good ingredients without adding sugar. Good job LCR! The bread that arrived after the salad was just pizza dough rolled into balls and cooked. The bread was a little salty, but it was HOT doughy and firm (just the way I like it). The salads were sub par, they were obviously pre-made and definitely without the same care as the main course. The main courses were large portions and all were generally good to very good.
Cavatelli with meatballs: The cavatelli did not taste homemade, but the sauce made up for that little gripe. The sauce had a freshness that made everything else pop, very good! The meatballs however had way too much salt, and were mediocre compared to the pasta and sauce.
Penne with Vodka Sauce: I tried a little of the dish, and while it is not the way I like make it, it was very good. Just a hint of vodka in a creamy sauce over penne made it a good choice.
Shrimp Scampi: Angel hair pasta with a creamy scampi sauce. The pasta, as with all the dishes, was cooked just right. The shrimp were good, although I feel as if they were previously frozen and not fresh. The scampi sauce had loads of garlic and butter, but had a little too much salt for my taste. Overall it was a good dish, but nothing that would knock your socks off.
Chicken Marsala: I didn’t get a chance to try this dish, but the diner said it was good.
Cheese Ravioli: Both a large helping and large ravioli in their red sauce. The ravioli was good and cooked just right. The ravioli was in their red sauce which as I have said it very good.
Overall: If you are looking for a good Italian restaurant with good Italian food, but you don’t mind the appearance, then LCR is a good place to try. I would hope that the owners of the restaurant do fix up the outside, hire more staff, and put a little more effort into the maintenance of the inside. Remove some of the little trinkets that you buy at Marshal’s or TJ Maxx, add a little more of an Italian flair and viola, a better experience for all.