I love this neighborhood, I have tons of friends who live close, but there’s really no way to congregate outside of your home or meet new friends who live nearby. Welcome to Bloomingdale, Washington, DC.
According to Wikipedia, Bloomingdale encompasses less than two miles within the borders of North Capitol Street, Florida Ave NW, Second/Third St. NW, and Channing St. NW. For some reason, despite the population growth in the past few years, there are no bars or even sit-down restaurants in this entire area…until now.
Rustik Tavern, a brick oven pizza and beer joint at the intersection of 1st, T, and Rhode Island NW, soft opened on Thursday, September 24 and finally with a grand opening last Thursday, October 14. After nearly two years of investments, location changes, and other improbable speedbumps the owner finally found a building welcoming his (and the rest of the community’s) dream. It’s nice being able to stop creeping around, reading permits in windows attempting to decipher a business’s plans and future. Being able to eat a delicious meal and drink wine, beer, and/or liquor within blocks of your home is a privilege, not a right, trust me.
Three of the Brightest Young Things food and drink team live in Bloomingdale: Alex, Kim, and myself. We’ve all gotten an opportunity to enjoy the new gift-of-an-establishment and want to explain why you too should explore Bloomingdale’s new treasure. Alex’s apartment literally overlooks Rustik while Kim and myself are about two blocks away. It’s not only important to celebrate this wonder of food and alcohol entering our neighborhood, we also have to think about how much a breakthrough this is politically and hope for other businesses to follow in their footsteps. Rustik, you are the first and you will always be remembered as such. You have turned Bloomingdale from an “area” to a “community.”
The restaurant itself is comprised of a small dimly-lit dining room complete with bar and exposed wood-grilled oven (which can sometimes be mesmerizing to watch as it rotates). The walls are decorate by artwork from BYT favorite Kelly Towles and the smell of the oven delights olfactory senses. The menu consists of approximately six pizza options and six other small plates. The beer selection is top notch and offers several craft-brew favorites while the wine menu also consists of a variety of choices. Staff is friendly and attentive, bringing you a taste of popcorn as you’re taking your seat. Happy hour from 4-7PM Monday-Friday is a great deal.
Personally, I really enjoy the margarita pizza, plain and simple yet tasting crisp and delicious. Alex has only enjoyed a pizza on the second night of Rustik’s soft-opening which she described as “a little on the small side” while both Kim and Alex recommend more salt in the crust. Alex did agree with me that the pizza had a nice texture and sauce however Kim experienced a crust requiring a bit longer in the oven to prevent a soggy slice. The Christina pizza with pear, prosciutto, rosemary, and goat cheese seems to be an easy favorite. Rations on toppings can vary and occasionally you’ll get stuck with a pizza missing a few elements but for the most part, they’re all pretty delicious.
We do enjoy their wide selection of draft beers however, all three of us being wine drinkers points out a major flaw of the restaurant, the wine glasses. We have all been trained to drink beer and ignore our desire for wine while dining at Rustik because of the abnormally small wine glasses. It would be understandable with cheaper prices but for $10 a glass we expect a lot more than four ounces with not even enough room to swirl and sniff like the wine snobs we are. Oh well, we’ve gotten over it a bit by drinking the delicious beers you have on tap. But please, for the future, provide some appropriate stemware to satisfy your customers or charge half as much for the half-glasses of wine. We can’t be the only ones with these feelings.
As for other suggestions toward Rustik’s future success we are all very excited about the eventual patio opening, literally doubling the capacity of the restaurant, not to mention being able to bring my dog to hang out while I imbibe and socialize. Kim also recommends a possible weekend brunch and the use of ingredients from the popular local Sunday Bloomingdale Farmer’s Market, both huge selling points to neighborhood residents.
When it comes down to it we are all excited with this first sign of nightlife in the Bloomingdale area including delicious food and brews. One day they’ll try to put a Target in our hood and we’ll all look back at this moment and remember how precious this first step really was.