Took out my aunt and uncle last night. They wanted casual Italian, but didn't want to venture too far from Park Square, so I chose Rustic Kitchen over Maggiano's (an easy choice IMHO, even if it is the lesser of two evils). Fortunately, I have enough Rustic Kitchen experience to be able to have an enjoyable meal at the place.
First course: calamari. Rustic Kitchen makes consistently good calamari. Not the lightest batter you'll find (for great light calamari, go to B&G), but still good. Crunchy without any chewyness. Served with large, raw jalapenos slices and drizzled with aioli (too much IMHO; if you're sensitive, you might want to order it on the side).
Second course: pizza. Rustic Kitchen makes excellent pizzas. My favorite is the sausage, which includes slices of sweet Italian sausage and sweet red pepper. I have them add slices of the jalapenos they serve with the calamari; the combination works really well.
Beverages: they offer a decent wines-by-the-glass list and a decent (not great, but decent) beer selection, both on tap and in bottles.
I don't have a lot of experience with the rest of the menu, but the other things I've tried have not been nearly as successful. But two people could share the calamari, a pizza, perhaps a salad, and have a really nice, moderately priced meal.
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