Mitch Andrews / Lantern photographer
Located in the alley of the South Campus Gateway, Pizza Rustica offers authentic, Italian style pizza, paninis and dessert pizzas. The franchise, based in Miami, has several locations in Florida, but owner Chris diDonato said this is the first location in the Midwest.
“They are literally around every corner in Miami, and people love them there,” diDonato said. “This type of pizza is the regional style from Italy.”
He said they bake the pizza in the morning, at about 11 a.m., cut it, and put it in the display case for all to see. He said that cooling time allows the pizza to set and the cheese and ingredients to form together. When someone orders a slice, he puts it in the oven for about two minutes at 550 degrees and it is ready.
DiDonato said the extra setting times gives it the “cold pizza effect” while still being a hot pizza. I thought the effect made the pizza above average, as the ingredients blended together very well.
The dough is made fresh daily in store, and because it is baked once and reheated, it has an extra crispy bottom layer.
One obvious difference between Pizza Rustica and other campus-area pizza places is the price. One “Mega Slice” at Pizza Rustica for one of their specialty pieces is $4.95, normally a steep price for a college student on a budget.
However, the slices at Pizza Rustica are, as the menu suggests, mega. I barely finished my slice of the Chicken Parmesan Pizza and still, hours later, was full. The price might seem a bit scary at first, but ultimately, it is worth it.
Pizza Rustica offers 31 specialty pizza styles and I had the opportunity to try the Chicken Parmesan and the Mega Meat. Both slices were on their freshly-made dough with their sauce and mozzarella cheese.
The Chicken Parmesan Pizza features fresh breaded chicken. It also had onions, tomatoes and their herb blend. They are not skimpy on the ingredients, as it weighs down the pizza quite a bit. The chicken was delicious, and the slice literally tasted like I was eating chicken parmesan.
The Mega Meat Pizza was piled with four different types of meat and their mozzarella cheese. It has smoked ham, pepperoni, Italian sausage, and beef crumble.
The Italian sausage stuck out on this pizza the most, almost overpowering the rest of the meats. DiDonato said these two pizzas are generally their best sellers.
Unique to this location, Pizza Rustica offers the Buckeye Chocolate Pizza. It is covered with Nutella, fudge, peanut butter and has buckeye candies around the edge. DiDonato, an Ohio State alumnus, said he opened the restaurant in Ohio because it was such a hit in Miami.
He decorated the inside with OSU memorabilia, Buckeye décor and four big-screen televisions.
There is seating inside for about 50 people, and an additional 30 seats outside in the alley.
Pizza Rustica is open until 3:30 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday and closes at midnight Monday through Wednesday.
Overall, I would recommend Pizza Rustica. The food is delicious and filling and although it seems expensive, the value of the food is quite good.