Review – Vero Cucino Rustico
Not just another pizza place in a strip mall, Vero Cucino Rustico features a full service menu, with full cred food. “Life is too short not to eat well” is painted on the wall of their restaurant (in Italian), and ingrained on the mind of the owners. Take a recent bruschetta special – ricotta spread, caramelized onion, candied fennel threads, prosciutto, lemon and shaved grape tomatoes. Lots of players here, but this app shows the care and commitment Vero practices to serve food with fresh and local ingredients.
Chicken Parmesan, so plebian, so provincial, but a good indicator of what’s going on in the kitchen. At $18.95 Vero’s version includes 2 generous slabs of chicken, cooked golden brown and delicious, crisp yet with good fork sinkability. No gummy glob of cheese here, but a skim coat layer of mozzarella all served on a bed of thick spaghetti. Sauce was a little bland, but not a deal breaker in this dish.
Made with Vero’s outstanding dough, the meatball sub is another blue collar hero (see what I did there?!) The roll is promoted to a starring role here, not just a bit player. Nice crunch on the outside, full bodied texture on the inside. Loaded with meatballs, firm and tasty, not drowned in sauce, and topped with lightly melted provolone. A huge sandwich you’ll most likely share or get 2 meals out of. Then again, at $13.95, top of the mark around here and then some, it better be big and tasty. When the owner was asked why this item jumped so hard in price from $9.50, he was very gracious and honest, citing a need to switch purveyors to bring in the best local ingredients he could. A 68% increase, though, wow. At the time of this writing, one of the vendors Vero was using was Meadow Meat, a favorite local butcher shop, offering top notch meats, poultry and service.
A large pizza here starts at $16.00. While not a militantly thin pie, it closely resembles an offering from Modern. The crust at Vero is superior to anything in Middletown. The mozzerella pie arrived with lightly charred areas akin to the New Haven trinity, seemed to be the perfect combo of cheese and sauce, cooked properly so the layers hold together, and not some sliding schism. Vero also offers a true apizza, (traditional in their words) sauce and grated pecorino romano. Not something you see very often outside the New Haven area.
A favorite lunch companion, the ceasar salad with grilled chicken, priced strongly at $15.95, is nicely done. Crisp romaine tossed with romano bits, their own croutons and dressing, and on one occasion olives. Partnered with a good sized portion of chicken that was not dried out or overcooked. Vero’s croutons are a treat, however on one visit, they were very chewy, like the humidity got to them or something. There was news however, that they were having trouble with their hvac system, which could have been responsible for the crouton issue.
Overall Vero Cucino Rustico puts out some damn fine food. Pricing here is ambitious, at or near some of the fine Main Street establishments, so be aware. Then again, this is not just another pizza joint slinging the occasional entree. To address the price thing, they are now offering the “Vero Lunch” – specials from 11 to 4, with a few nice selections. Also watch their facebook page for some pretty creative weekly apps and specials, always mindful of using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Located at 749 Saybrook Road (Tradewinds Plaza), Vero Cucino Rustico is definitely worth a try.
Disclosure Statement – There is no disclosure! Up in the Man Cave will never accept free meals, drinks or merchandise in exchange for favorable reviews. Up in the Man Cave will never pre- announce a visit, they just walk in, order, and eat…just like you would. You can trust Up in the Man Cave to tell it like it is