Rustic, Francis’s Favorites
Author: Julie Fadda
June, 2012 Issue
Rustic, Francis’s Favorites
300 Via Archimedes
Lunch and dinner daily
Entrées (dinner): $12-$42
Full bar, good wine list
Housed within Francis Ford Coppola’s winery, Rustic offers Coppola’s favorite recipes from around the world, traditional Italian cuisine and an authentic parrilla (Argentine grill). Chef Tim Bodell works closely with Coppola to present meals made with fresh, seasonal produce, some of which is grown in the property’s organic garden. A four-course tasting menu ($79) includes wine pairings.
The dining room overlooks nearby vineyards and Alexander Valley, with terrace seating available. Its large, lodge-like interior has an open-beamed ceiling, dark wood furnishings, a few booths—and an amazing collection of olive oil containers.
A golden, panko-crusted salmon cake served with remoulade and garden greens started us off just right, as it paired perfectly with a glass of Coppola's Sofia blanc de blanc sparkling (fruit-forward, apple, pear). Next up was handmade tortellini stuffed with prosciutto and ricotta, topped with a fresh, lively tomato sauce that really popped against the hearty pasta.
From the bar, we tried a dark and stormy (rum and ginger beer, bitter finish) and a caipirinha, made with cachaca (sugar cane rum), muddled lime and sugar (refreshing).
For entrées, we chose two of the “favorites.” On the menu, each has its own description about how Francis discovered it. The rack of lamb “Madame Bali” is an Armenian recipe, where the meat is marinated in pomegranate juice and white onions for three days. Grilled over the parrilla until a perfect medium rare, it had a smoky, herbed flavor and was served with rice pilaf and grilled zucchini, asparagus and peppers. It paired beautifully with the winery’s reserve Syrah (dark fruit, cocoa, coffee finish, lush).
The “habit forming” ribs came with a fresh pineapple round, Asian slaw and a side of barbecue sauce that had a bit of heat and spice to it, which really brought out the sweet taste of the tender ribs (which had a caramelized exterior). We shared those and the lamb with the “L’ami Louis Gateau de Pommes,” a potato cake that was literally the size of a cake. Cooked in duck fat and butter, it’s topped with a mound of raw garlic and parsley. Its golden exterior and moist interior are rich and there’s plenty to share.
Dessert was a French lemon tart that had a perfect, flaky crust and a balanced blend of sweet and tart flavors. It went great with the winery’s late harvest Semillon, which is aged 12 months in French oak and has a clean finish. The chocolate mousse was dense and dark with 72 percent cacao, served with vanilla bean whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and looked like a cappuccino (it’s even served in a mug). Top that with excellent service and a friendly atmosphere, and a good time was had by all.
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