Tracker Pixel for Entry

Moorhead Gets Tastier

by Granville Wood | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | All About Food | August 21st, 2014

Photo by Spencer Boechler

HPR reviews Rustica

When you cross the Main Street Bridge from Fargo into the sort of culinary wasteland known as Moorhead you will notice a change, a change for the better. Eric and Sarah Watson of Mezzaluna and Mosaic Foods have expanded their culinary empire into the space once occupied by John Alexander’s, breathing new life into a cool architectural remnant of old Moorhead while raising the culinary bar for Moorhead with their new venture, Rustica.

I like how the Watsons are going about opening their new venture. When finished, it will have two major features. On the east end of the building is Rustica, for more formal dining, and the west end of the building will be a more casual bar serving wood-fire pizza and other food selections.

I like that they’ve invested time into a soft opening. Granted, they were still charging the guests, but it is a controlled environment giving the staff a chance to get acquainted with their new surroundings. This will pay off in the long run for the consumer as the service and food should be pretty much spot on when they officially open the doors this week. And I will say both were right on the mark this past Friday when the brunette and I dropped in for dinner.

Kristy Zitzow, executive director of operations for Eric and Sarah, has done a bang up job coordinating the opening and gave us a warm greeting on our arrival. Those who visited the space’s previous restaurant should be aware that patrons can either enter from the back of the building or use the middle entrance on the street side, not the old entrance to the previous restaurant.

Successful ventures (like Mosaic Catering and Mezzaluna) cultivate a loyal staff following. An aware, adventurous and confident entrepreneur will create opportunities for those people or possibly lose them, hence the birth of Rustica. Well, it might not be the only reason, but it did allow alumni Dan Dulany and Mason Nicklaus to move up the ladder from their positions at Mezzaluna to be Rustica’s head chef and manager, respectively. There is a touch of irony to this story as they both got started in the restaurant business at John Alexander’s.

I like the very austere but comfortable physical changes. It strikes me as a room that will evolve and develop a personality of its own in time. A bar dominates the back corner of the room and provides a lively buzz of activity. The dining room, with its simple bare wooden tables and chairs, has a clean, uncluttered look. A banquette lines one wall with a towering gray wall behind it, seemingly drab but also a potential backdrop for some local art.

Rustica’s food is modern American with a nod to Spain and other countries hugging the Mediterranean shoreline. A variety of starters are there to tease the palate and we were tempted to order several and skip the entrée portion of the menu, but there were some enticing entrée to make the decision even harder.

I was going back and forth between the pork belly appetizer and the sea scallops. It was shaping into an epic battle but the in the end the scallops won. I have to say, if Eric wasn’t at the helm I might not have had the faith in ordering scallops in land-locked North Dakota. And I wasn’t disappointed. The fabulous, large, juicy-dry packed scallops were perfectly seared on the outside, tender and moist on the inside. Paired with a cauliflower puree and a yellow raisin cream sauce it all seemed very white and soft textured but it worked and worked well. The brunette went with a Shrimp Romesco with Polenta Croquette, the tomato almond based sauce was flavorful and the shrimp were done right and the croquette was nicely crisp on the outside.

There is a nice selection of entrees and the decision was easy for me as lamb is high on my list of favorites. The brunette wanted something on the lighter side and selected the one vegetarian option, a portabella mushroom and fresh vegetables wrapped in pastry. It was well presented with a lovely crisp pastry shell encasing flavorful vegetables but the portabella was a bit lost and not the star ingredient. My lamb was really well presented, tender and mildly flavored, a really superb dish. I won’t say more, just go and try it.

For dessert, I just had to go for the Tres Leches, which is offered with very high-quality maraschino cherries, not your regular grocery store variety. As they were caramelizing fresh peaches for another dessert, I asked Lauren, our server, if I could have them with my Tres Leches and without any hesitation they honored my request and it was delicious. The Tres Leches came as a layer cake, which is not the norm. I was suspected that it wouldn’t be well soaked in the three milks it is named for. But the chef proved me wrong and it was perhaps one of the best renditions I have had and I have had many. It turned out to be a great ending to a wonderful meal and dining experience.

IF YOU GO

Rustica

Tuesdays through Saturdays, 4 to 10 pm

315 Main Ave, Moorhead

Recently in:

By C.S. Hagen and Melissa GonzalezFARGO – A public meeting to begin laying the groundwork toward establishing better hate crime legislation across the state soured Wednesday afternoon receiving criticism and spurring two people…

“I haven’t been to Fargo in a couple of years,” comedian Spencer Dobson said. “But it’s always had great stage time and funny, enthusiastic comics.”  Born in the small town of Voss, ND (pop 29), Dobson has been all…

Thursday, June 27, 5-11 p.m.Red Raven Espresso Parlor, 916 Main Ave, FargoThe Raven will be opening up the garage and serve up some vegan and vegetarian bbq goods. Live entertainment by SOTOS, Arachnid, Chocha, Cold Front, The…

Wallethub just released a listing of the most fun states in America. Minnesota ranked number seven, South Dakota ranked number 31, and North Dakota ranked number 40. All based on experts examining restaurants, movie theatres, golf…

From Kerosene Lamp To Drone DeliveriesThe world continues to be a very exciting place for an adolescent who spent his evenings after milking my share of four cows reading books from my country school like “Men of Iron” by…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

All About Food

It’s date night!

by HPR Contributor

By Seng Phengdouangdethsengphengdouangdeth@gmail.comAs things are finally starting to warm up in the region, it’s time to kick that delivery habit you’ve developed all winter long and take your main squeeze out somewhere with…

When asked to describe the sound of Green Blue, Minneapolis based musician Annie Sparrows formerly of the Soviettes and Awesome Snakes laughed and said, “Our friend came up to me after a show and he said ‘Do you like Belle and…

Martin Scorsese embraces the prankster spirit of a longtime inspiration/subject in “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story.” The confounding testimony is as much mockumentary as documentary, combining new interviews and…

You may have seen Nicki Marie slingin’ her elaborately folded paper star creations at various craft and cultural festivals around the region. She was also a recipient of a folk art and traditional apprenticeship grant made…

The Cass Act Players will take the stage this weekend to bring “Weather the Storm” to Bonanzaville’s Dawson Hall in West Fargo.“Weather the Storm” is a musical based on the infamous tornado that hit Fargo’s Golden Ridge…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

If you’re from the region you may have sipped, sampled or caught word of a libation often referred to as “red eye” or “wedding whiskey” at some point. In fact some of our friends of German Russia descent swear by it. If…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

Last Word

The ten year reunion

by HPR Contributor

By Zach Nerpelzachnerpel@gmail.comI was going by “Zach” on this particular evening. Not like I’d go by anything else in any other situation, but tonight it was determined I’d wear a nametag. I showed up to the Fargo Brewing…