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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Dining in Davis: Rostini Italian Kitchen

Walking into Rostini Italian Kitchen at 5:30 p.m. on a Monday, my girlfriend and I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with the smell of fresh bread. Light and airy, the aroma raised my expectations for this quick and easy Italian restaurant. Unfortunately, it may have raised them too high for what was to come.

Looking over the menu, I quickly realized this would not be an ordinary Italian experience. Firstly, Rostini covers the basics and adds its own touch, but also offers few options within those basics. With a varied menu of soup, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pasta, you don’t have to come here expecting traditional Italian food. However, if you do, you can select from classics like pizza margherita for $7.25 to a pesto chicken sandwich for $8.25.

Secondly, at an Italian restaurant, I expect a lot options for pasta with a wide variety of selection and, hopefully, some originality. However, Rostini offers only five different pasta dishes, with only two of them covering the classics: spaghetti with marinara sauce for $6.25 and chicken alfredo for $9.25.

Two of the pasta dishes, however, tickled my curiosity: the lasagna saltimbocca and the drunken pasta. The lasagna for $9.25 was cooked with shredded chicken breast, prosciutto and cheese, which added an uncommon twist to the dish. But it was the drunken pasta’s description that really caught my eye. Cooked in red wine and topped with spicy Italian sausage, roasted mushrooms and onions, I knew I had to try it.

After ordering the drunken pasta and pizza margherita at the counter, we headed to one of the tables in the back of the room. If you plan on coming to Rostini with a big group – don’t, unless you don’t mind sitting at separate tables. Only a handful of tables and chairs litter the room, with some dining areas outside.

A quick 10 minutes later, both dishes arrived at our table. Rostini didn’t lie when they said it’s “purple perfection.”

Well, at least about the purple part. The red wine left the spaghetti a bright, almost unnatural purple color. Unfortunately, the wine itself imparted no flavor to the noodles. And with no additional sauce besides olive oil, that left almost all the flavor to derive from the spicy Italian sausage. The drunken pasta is a nice gimmick, but left me wishing I had tried the lasagna.

One redeeming quality that may make me a regular at Rostini is the freshly made foccacia bread. A self-proclaimed carb lover, I was in bread paradise. Baked with herbs and roasted parmesan on top, you couldn’t ask for a better addition to any pasta dish. It was flaky and buttery on the outside and so moist and soft on the inside, and I couldn’t help but have more. And I did, as Rostini does us all a favor and sells three kinds of fresh focaccia for only $3.50. If you are to try anything at this restaurant, it has to be this homemade heaven.

The pizza margherita, on the other hand, provided a better experience. In the more traditional Italian fashion, the pizza crust was cooked thin, almost crispy. The sauce tasted of fresh tomatoes, although it did leave an unexpected oil residue while eating. Rostini could have been a little more generous with the basil and mozzarella cheese. The experience, however, was pleasant. Our waiter suggested ordering the pesto pizza and adding chicken for a dollar, saying that it is “too good.” The waiter seemed genuine and I am inclined to try his suggestion if I head back any time soon.

While I was not entirely satisfied with my entrée selection, Rostini has much to be proud of and I have more to try. All of their sandwiches are served on their warm focaccia rolls, which I am sure would take any sandwich to the next level.

If you are looking for the traditional Italian experience, this restaurant may not be for you. But if you want a quick fix in an Italian-like style, make sure you check out Rostini Italian Kitchen.

NICK MARKWITH can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

Rostini Italian Kitchen

1411 West Covell Blvd., Suite 111

Hours: Every day, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Food: ** Better than my roommate’s cooking

Price: $ undergrad $5 to $10


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