Rustico Restaurant & Bar
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Taps: 39 / Bottles: 200
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 20 | Reviews: 18 | Show All Ratings:
4.35/5 rDev +1.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
Had occasion to stop by here after a conference the other day.
Rusitico Ballston is located right on Wilson street, with mostly street parking (that I assume is probably a bit hard to come by), though I believe there's a public garage over on N. Randolph as well. The place has something of a modernistic, minimalistic vibe, with a good size dining area and a curved bar in the back that holds around 15 people. The atmosphere/vibe is pretty informal, and this struck me as a relaxed place to hang out with a beer or three.
Selection and quality here are pretty excellent. I think there was something like 38 beers on tap (two beers on cask), with a huge, impressive bottle/can list to boot. Quality is pretty good, though at least on the day I was here, I didn't see anything all that unusual on the bottle or draft list. Still, with stuff like sculpin and dogfish head WWS stout, it was hard not to be at least a bit impressed.
Service was pretty good I thought. I got here during shift change it would appear, which slowed things down a bit. Otherwise, the folks here were friendly and knowledgeable, and I never had to wait too long (after my first beer) for a beer.
As for prices.... this is the DC area. Pints for mainstream stuff like two hearted and stoudt pils go for around $6 a glass, and bottle prices are so high it's laughable (boris BA goes for $39 here - it retails for $15 a bottle at Al's in Hampden). However, happy hour runs from 4-7 every day, when everything on the menu sells for $2 off the draft price. So my 13 ounce glass of sculpin was only $6, while my pint of two hearted was only $4.
It took a little while to be at ease with this place, but I enjoyed myself more and more the longer I was here. Also, like the Chruchkey, you can purchase a 3 ounce sample size glass (their sample size is pretty generous here) of any beer here, which allows one to sample a fair number of the beers on draft here without becoming too polluted (or impoverished).
What can I say.... this place is great. I'll definitely be back.
Edit from 8/12/11. As promised, I stopped by for lunch today. The food was quite good, with everything very fresh and tasty. The kitchen really does a fine job with the food preparation here. That being said... did I mention the prices here? Lunch for two with a glass of two hearted a piece.... welcome to the home of the $50 lunch (with tax and tip). This is a great place, no doubt, but the less than gentle pricing will always have me thinking twice before ever coming here again.
08-11-2011 00:31:46 | More by johnmichaelsen
4.22/5 rDev -1.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
We visited the Ballston Rustico for a Thursday lunch. First off, it was fairly dead, but the mid-afternoon timing was a little awkward. It's been awhile since I've visited the Alexandria location, but the decor scheme here seemed to be in sharp contrast - very modern, though muted with wood tones. Not uncomfortable but not exactly warm, either.
It's not surprising that the selection is not only large but diverse as well - in keeping with the other restaurants in this group. Drafts numbered 43 at the time of my visit, with 2 of these casks. Locals have a fair representation, with plenty of national and Belgian/import selections as well. A current draft list is posted on the restaurant website. I went with a Saison De Silly, which was just alright. Appropriate glassware use.
Feeling something lighter, I opted for the cider glazed sea scallops. They were quite good, cooked properly and well accompanied with a bed of of parsnip puree and brussel sprouts. The rest of the family enjoyed their burgers and such.
Service was fine - fast and friendly. The place is generally on the pricier side, but happy hour can remove a little of that bite.
03-03-2011 04:11:04 | More by blackie
4.28/5 rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
This is the second Rustico location – its older sibling being just north of Old Town Alexandria (See My Review); it is housed on the first floor of a generic office building, which is a ten-minute stroll from either the Ballston or Virginia Square Metro Station (Orange Line). Much like the other Rustico, this venue offers a sleek and modern décor that makes do with shiny metal and sharp angles. Upon entry, to the right, is a well laid out dining area; keep going and you come to the large C-shaped bar, an ebony-topped beauty that comes accompanied with a matching fleet of plush stools, surrounded by a smattering of high tops and tables amid a scheme of minimal lighting. All in all, the room provides the aura of a Las Vegas hipster lounge. In addition, there are strewn several plasma TVs, which should help distract you from the person you’re with – or who is most likely blathering away on a cellphone as you peruse the sweet beer menu.
The beer selection, while not as extensive (or overwhelming) as Greg Engert’s other venue, the beloved Churchkey, is a well thought itinerary of the major styles and several small, but up-and coming, breweries – such as Blue Mountain and Clown Shoes, to name but a few. I counted 34 taps, which includes two casks. Some of the victims for this visit included: Schlafly Kolsch, Blue Mountain Lager, Papa Scottish Ale (from Weyerbacher) and (Sigh!) Founder’s Porter.
The service was attentive, although not particularly knowledgeable in the ways of the craft beer. (In any case, I consider myself “knowledgeable” enough in these matters.) As for the grub; there is an obvious commitment to expanding one’s cuisine universe with enough eclecticism to make the search for food a worthy one. My meal was a very filling, and extremely tasty, pizza. Basta!
As does the aforementioned CK (also owned by the Restaurant Group), the thirsty patron is provided with individual tasters priced more reasonably than the regular beers. There are some rarities that will cost about $9.00 as well. Rustico also has a Happy Hour – on weekdays only, I believe.
07-19-2011 21:07:34 | More by jjboesen
4.38/5 rDev +2.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$$
Visited during DC Conference/Beer Sojourn November 2011 with estimable John Michaelsen, thanks John.
Located in downtown Arlington, this Rustico location features an airy, open footprint, certainly more inviting than the dark loft-like Churchkey run by the same owners. The floorplan is far more open than the elbow-to-elbow do battle to get a beer vibe at CK, but appeared as more of an upscale restaurant than a beer bar.The bartender was quite friendly and attentive but not overly so, we visited during a late afternoon lull period, so the vibe wasn't too loud like CK. There was an outdoor seating area, but we decided to sit at the bar.
The taplist was a bit different from CK, several tasty sours, hard to get standards several Italian craft beers, and a decent bottle list, though not quite as challenging as CK. While I didn't eat, the food that came out from the kitchen, especially the pizza, looked quite inviting, good portions. Prices are on the DC high side, which being familiar with the Beervana scene, is always a shock to the wallet. $8 for a 12 oz. pour of Sculpin? Ugh.
This is certainly a nice place, but given the plethora of beer establishments on the DC side of the river, I probably won't be back, though I'm glad I was able to visit this with John.
11-27-2011 22:15:48 | More by jdense
4.44/5 rDev +4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$$
Visited on recommendation from one of my Reserve Society people. Walked in around 1030pm and the bartender informed me that it was going to be last call in a few minutes. The website says they're open until midnight but I guess since it was slow they were closing early. The place is pretty big, seperated between a dining room and a bar room that has some more tables. There are a number of fridges full of bottles, some of which are reasonably priced, most of which are not.
Since there weren't many patrons (if any, I think the other people hanging out were employees) the service was great and helpful. It was very quiet. Not a whole lot to say really other than they had a good tap and bottle selection and the staff was friendly. I didnt get to eat there but I'll try to get back later in the week because the menu looks really good.
07-11-2011 14:56:47 | More by t0rin0
4.4/5 rDev +3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
Rustico, the beer-centric eatery north of Old Town, is one of my favorite places to visit in my area. Perhaps its the amazing beer selection - not only does Rustico boast 300 beers and cask ales, but Beer Director (and God Among Men) Greg Engert has organized them into tasty, adventurous flights ("Luke, I am Your Father" was a recent collection of four dangerously dark stouts and porters - get it?). So not only do I always find something to enjoy, but I discover new favorites as well.
Tucked away on quiet Slater's Lane, Rustico in Alexandria is always packed with diners - older couples from Del Ray, young families, Engert fans, etc. Although the restaurant originally debuted as an Italian joint to mixed reviews, a quick chef change and switch to American fare resulted in much improvement. I personally appreciate how the menu revolves around the seasons along with their beer offerings.
The new Rustico has the same menu and beers, but a completely different vibe. Rustico Alexandria is modern and "urban funky," with mosaic walls decorated with plates, broken china, bits of mirror, etc. (check out the gorgeous red and teal mosaic glass tiles above the fireplace - I covet). Couches and fireplace make the bar area not only cozy, but also the perfect place to while away an afternoon with the Sunday edition of the NYT and a few flights of beer.
The new Rustico is much more "urban chic," with leather banquettes, a a rich, dark color scheme, industrial light fixtures, and a large wraparound bar. It's gorgeous. Imagine more dark wood and leather, less funky mosaics and couches ... more Clarendon, less Del Ray. The beer list is going to be even more impressive, with more than 400 beers available, and 40 on tap.
The menu was the same as Rustico Alexandria, but Rustico Ballston seemed to offer an abbreviated beer menu. Where was the beloved beer binder of the original Rustico? I love hauling that metal-plated book up into my arms to peruse the extensive options - it's certainly a conversation piece if nothing else.
Overall, the new Rustico is nice - exceedingly nice. The menu and the beer selection will lure current Rustico fans, while the chic vibe will bring in a new crowd of regulars. It's exactly what Ballston - the skinny, dark wallflower younger sibling of the cool, popular, golden Clarendon - has always needed.
01-29-2011 20:21:11 | More by CuriousMonk
4.11/5 rDev -3.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4 | $$$$
Had a nice Saturday brunch here with some friends. Overall good experience, would definitely go back.
The interior of the restaurant is contemporary, posh. Our waitress was okay - quick to take our order and bring drinks, but after we finishes we lingered a while before the bill was brought.
Definitely a top notch draft list and bottle list. All high quality selections, diverse styles, that range from local breweries, to the big national craft breweries, to Belgian imports. Extremely well organized list too, with good brief descriptions. Every bar should follow their lead.
Food was very good - I had a unique "Brunch Burger", and the whole table was happy with their meals.
The only downside is the cost. I realize this is in a high-rent district, but being from the suburbs of PA I thought the prices were pretty steep. Drafts ranged from $6 to $12. Some of the specialty beers maybe justified their cost, but $6 for a Brooklyn Lager or Stoudt's Pils is a bit hard to justify.
08-09-2013 21:47:34 | More by jmdrpi
District of Columbia
4.25/5 rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
A: This is located just a block or two away from the Ballston Common Mall, one of the more ghetto malls in the DC area, and is situated among a slew of rather posh eating establishments. Inside, the place is clean, well-kept, and the bar has plenty of space to accommodate a healthy-sized number of people.
Quality: Lots of taps (I'd say around 20-30 total), and all of them count! I didn't see any macro-muck in the tap area, but I did see a couple of people drinking Michelob Ultra... if that is your bag (Ugh!).
Service: Our bartender was outstanding. He actually had a very good pulse of the place and did a great just gauging our interests. For example, he knew I was interested in the stuff that was set to be release, so he brought me out healthy samples of both Maharaja and Sculpin that had just recently been tapped, but was not set to go on sale yet.
Selection: While I was there, I ordered a Port City: One (which was why I was in there to begin with) and my wife ordered a Founders Breakfast Stout. Like I stated before...20-30 taps, all great!
Food: I've heard some complaints from people before, but we've always enjoyed our meal here. I've never had the pasta, but the pizza and appetizers are quite good.
Value: I don't remember anything being out of the realm of feasibility on the $$ front here, so I'll give it a pass.
This is one of the DC area craft beer staples. Check it out!
03-20-2012 11:32:50 | More by Chaney
District of Columbia
4.4/5 rDev +3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
Excellent selection of beer. Great bar and friendly bartenders. 40+ taps and a book for the bottles.
Good bar scene. Also a nice place to eat. Their menu is a bit "fancy." Wish they had some better standbys for dinner. Place would work for kids, but the kids menu is lacking.
Love to sit on the outside patio on a Saturday afternoon adjacent to the small little kids water park. Sit and have food and beer. Have the kids in the bathing suits. They play in the water and we drink, watch, laugh, talk. Good time.
12-04-2012 03:54:37 | More by Sludgeman
District of Columbia
4.33/5 rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
don't usually review places, but the travelling BA needs to know... The new Rustico Ballston is clean, well set up and run very well. The beer list is diverse and includes something for literally everyone. The staff is trained to be courteous and helpful. The food is really good. Only down sides may be the crowds that flock here during busy times, and the fact that the prices are a bit high ($26 for a 375ml Hanssens lambic? $11 for a 10oz of Les Deux Brasseurs?). Other than that, you will be hard pressed to find a better beer experience anywhere near here. There has been a recent explosion of good beer in the area, but Rustico does it best for sure. A must if you are in the area.
03-06-2011 11:49:49 | More by timtim
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Rustico Restaurant & Bar in Arlington, VA
93 out of 100 based on 20 user ratings.