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Dining Review – Cucina Rustica in Cranston, RI

InsideWe haven’t done a dining review in a while.  That’s a little unusual, as we haven’t stopped eating.  It’s just that there has been so much wine to talk about.  So let’s take a little time and catch up on a restaurant review or two.  We’ll start with Cucina Rustica on Atwood Avenue in Cranston, RI.

This restaurant has been through a few name and ownership changes over the past 6 years.  It was, for a very long time, Nicole’s.  We went there rather frequently, until the restaurant took a noticeable downward turn toward the end of it’s tenure.  After closing another name and owner came in for about four years.  We did not try that establishment.  For the past two years it has been Cucina Rustica.  Armed with a Living Social certificate we thought it was time to go back.  We’re glad we did.

The interior looks essentially the same as it did years ago, which is a good thing, because décor was never the problem here.  It was a Sunday barand about 1:00, and we were looking for lunch.  We sat at the bar (something quite normal for us) and settled in.  The first thing we noticed was the service, as there were a few wait staff and the bartender who were obviously busy, but they immediately acknowledged us and someone took a drink order and handed us menus.  Later our waitress stopped by to introduce herself and see if we needed anything immediately.  Another member of the staff brought us some bread.  They definitely have the team concept in place here.

IMG_1322

Chicken Fancais

The menu has the classics, some twists, and a reasonable but not overwhelming number of choices.  You can’t get every Italian dish ever made here, but there will be something for everyone.  I do lament the classic Caesar being absent, as their variety was made with Kale.  Still, we made do with Calamari for an appetizer.  This consisted of breaded and fried rings and tentacles, accompanied by Marinara sauce, a lemon aioli and some sweet pepper relish.  The squid was perfectly cooked and very tender.  All of the sauces and sides were delicious.  Did I mention it was huge?  This was a good start.

For entrees Cheri had the Chicken Francaise and I ordered the Vongole, or linguini and clams.  All of the pasta here is made on premises and fresh, and my linguini was perfectly aldente and had just that right amount of

Vongole

Vongole

chewiness and texture.  There were more clams on this than I have ever encountered in a dish before.  There were chopped clams and a platefull of littlenecks in the shell.  This should be called Clams with Some Linguini.  It was delicious and not overly seasoned, so the briny quality of the clams came through.  My only nit is that there was a touch too much broth in the bowl.

Cheri pronounced her chicken to be excellent, and I agreed after trying a bite.  It was flavorful and tender.

One of the best parts of the meal was when our server, Micaela, presented a tray with Sambuca and Amaretto bottles on it and asked us what our choice of complimentary after meal cordials would be.  This was unexpected.  We both had Amaretto, and received healthy pours.  They were perfect for adding to an after lunch cup of coffee.

Micaela with the Sambuca and Amaretto

Micaela with the Sambuca and Amaretto

Things have changed here, much for the better, since our last visit many years ago.  The staff is professional and attentive, the food was excellent, and the restaurant gets a thumbs up from us.  Our wallet is out for Cucina Rustica.

You’ll find the wine list a bit lean but there is a reasonable variety of good choices.  They also have a small list of higher end wines.  We should definitely tell you about Wine Wednesdays, when all wine is 1/2 price (including the better bottles).  That’s a great way to enjoy a finer wine while paying closer to retail for it.

Other specials happen during the week, including all you can eat pasta and meatballs on Mondays, it you are so inclined.

Here are the particulars.  We’ll be going back for a Wine Wednesday sometime very soon.

Cucina Rustica

555 Atwood Avenue    Cranston, RI

401-944-2500

A votre santé!

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