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Good eats at Pizza Rustica: Traditional Italian fare with a unique flare

An authentic Italian meal, great cocktails and fantastic service at Pizza Rustica in Lakeview

By Taylor Tolbert

Where it’s at: 3908 N. Sheridan

The scene: Rustic brick walls, an open kitchen and gorgeous lighting set the scene for this charming Italian restaurant just off the red line at Sheridan. Blackboards mounted on the walls display the numerous specials for the day. These specials change often, guaranteeing that you’ll always have something new to try. The restaurant also boasts an excellent patio space, making it perfect for any summer evening.

Food and drink: The usual suspects are on the menu for appetizers — caprese, antipasti, calamari — but everything is prepared with extra care and a unique touch. Along with the menu staples, there are always special appetizers for the day. The crab cakes are meaty and flavorful, paired with a honey-mustard sauce to add just enough sweetness. They’re highly recommended to start any meal.

The rolled pasta with ricotta and spinach is rich and creamy, and the veal chops are a must-order, but Pizza Rustica’s new specialty pizza is the surprise gem. Think you’ve seen it all when it comes to strange-yet-delicious pizza creations? Not until you’ve tried the lobster and egg option. Unprompted, it may not be something you’d ever think to order, but you will not regret it. The pizza looks beautiful when it comes to the table, hot and cheesy with beautiful yolk covering the top. And it tastes even better than it looks. The restaurant is clearly highlighting lobster these days, not only with the pizza but also with the lobster mashed potatoes. Nobody’s complaining.

Along with the assortment of specials on any given day, you can always select from the list of “La Pizza Della Casa” on Pizza Rustica’s homemade crust or choose from an array of standard Italian pastas and sauces. Or keep it simple and enjoy a panini for lunch. 

Make sure to leave room for dessert, as Pizza Rustica offers all of the Italian favorites like summery sorbets and decadent chocolate cakes.

As for the beverages, the restaurant keeps with its seasonal flare with fruity summertime cocktails and martinis. They also boast a great wine list and very knowledgeable servers who are happy to assist with pairings for any and all dishes. The wine menu provides a little cheat sheet for guests who would like to pair wine themselves — a great little addition.

What caught our eye: The worn brick walls and dark woods of the restaurant provide the perfect atmosphere for date night, girls’ night or just a comfortable, quick bite to eat. The sidewalk seating on this quiet block of Sheridan will definitely be picturesque come summertime. Presentation of each dish is definitely Instagram-worthy, if you’re into that kind of thing.

We’ll be back because… the prices are great, the food is even better and the staff is incredibly friendly. The blackberry gin fizz and oven-baked pizza are the beginnings of any great night in the city.