Mozzarella is the kitchen’s rowdiest resident and must be trapped between a chewy crust and bountiful toppings to prevent it from racketeering in the refrigerator. Savor rambunctious flavor with today’s Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of Italian fare and drinks at Rustico Pizzeria in the Third Ward.
Rustico dishes up a culinary tour of Italy with pizzas, pastas, and a bevy of beverages. The brightest star on this culinary walk of fame is the restaurant’s pizza selection, full of intimate 12-inch and crowd-pleasing 16-inch pies. Specialty combinations include the classic Margherita ($10.95/$14.95), the veggie-hugging Spinaci ($14.95/$18.95), and the meat-centered Carne ($14.95/$18.95), each capable of crushing an appetite beneath layers of toppings. Alternative taste-bud tango partners include a number of noodles on the pasta menu, such as the sea-sourced scampi, with jumbo shrimp, onion, red bell pepper, and garlic in a white-wine sauce ($18.95). The lunch special ($8.99) includes a drink and gives indecisive eaters the chance to choose any two items from the soup, salad, slice, or sandwich selection.
Rustico’s bartenders pour on the liquid love with a large selection of wines enjoyed by the bottle, glass, or handful. Sample a glass of the farnese house wine ($6), or pair a large pizza with a carafe ($18).
Dough leaps from chefs' hands and pirouettes in midair before donning Rustico Pizzeria's slew of fresh toppings such as pine nuts, goat cheese, and eggplant, with gluten-free pizza and pasta available upon request. The menu includes 10 types of sandwiches, some of which are made crispy atop a sizzling grill, and pastas arrive at tables draped in slow-stewed tomato sauce and white-wine béchamel. A rustic dining room is decked with brick walls, hardwood floors, and sturdy chandeliers. Outside, a wooden patio affords pristine views of the Milwaukee River, and an ideal station from which to christen passing ships with bottles from the Italian wine list.