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Cucina Rustica
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Cucina Rustica
Cucina Rustica ("Rustic Kitchen") is a traditional Italian Restaurant featuring "country cuisine" owned by John and Isabella Molinari. Isabella is the chef while John runs the dining room. Their daughter Christina also works in the restaurant, making it a truly family affair.

Cucina Rustic features heritage Italian entrees, prepared to perfection, using only the highest quality ingredients and served in generous portions. John and Isabella bring genuine old world hospitality to create Cucina Rustica's unique atmosphere. From the wine list, one might think they stumbled into a country wine cellar. Cucina Rustica is currently expanding to add a "pizza restaurant" in an adjacent building.


Isabella Molinari
Cucina Rustica is open 4 days a week, Wednesday through Saturday, from 5:00pm to 10:00pm. Its excellent food and impeccable service make tables a premium, so reservations (706.374.7474) are strongly recommended. For more detailed information see below.


Born in the Bronx in New York City, the Molinaris met when both families worked at the famous Palms restaurant in New York, founded by John's grandfather. From New York Isabella and John moved to Sanibel Island in off Florida's west coast where they ran two very successful restaurants, Isabella's and Porto Fina. As the Molinari's kids went off to college, the couple decided to retire to the North Georgia Mountains, but running a restaurant was in their blood, and it did not take long before they decided to open Cucina Rustica in 2007.

Food and Wine

The restaurant features the recipes Isabella grew up with in her second generation Italian family, originally from the Parma region of Italy. Each dish or pizza is individually prepared by hand. Pizzas are cooked in a traditional wood-fired brick oven in the kitchen. When it comes to the food, however, you are definitely sitting in one of the finest culinary restaurants in the Georgia mountains.


Normally, the generous portion of Cucina Rustica meals are more than enough to fill our stomachs, however, sometimes we will order an appetizer. My favorite is the custini, a light, cheese-filled ravioli dish that is deep fried to a golden brown that comes with a spicy tomato sauce.

My wife likes the Polenta Al Forna, a creation of cornmeal and cheese (Gorgonzola) topped with tomatoes and toasted walnuts. Also on the menu are Little Neck clams and an assortment of Italian cheeses.


Inside Cusina Rustica
Each pasta dish comes with insalata (salad) and foccacia (Italian flat bread with herbs) topped with enough olive oil that butter is not needed. The salad and bread are served family-style.

A favorite dish at Cucina Rustica has got to be the Tortellini Alla Nonna. This is a meat-filled tortellini in a white cream sauce that has prosciutto peas and parmigiano cheese. My wire and I found it unusually light and tasty for tortellini. Another pasta we found delightful was the Crespelle al Forno (Ricotta Cheese and spinach wrapped in a delicate crepe). Isabella combines fresh spinach with the ricotta in a proportion where the unique flavors of both are retained in the final dish.

The other pasta dish we have tried is the Lasagna Bolognese, a traditional meat lasagna served in the generous portion we always associate with Cucina Rustica. Isabella layers a thin lasagna pasta with her own meat sauce, plus a combination of ricotta and mozzarella cheese then baked in the wood-fired pizza oven for an astounding taste.


Each entree comes with a salad and veggie of the day. Cucina Rustica features two staples of the traditional American-Italian restaurant. First, a barrel-cut special occasion classic Filet Mignon cooked to order that is melt-in-your-mouth tender. Our orders, both rare and medium rare were cooked as ordered. Second, a shrimp dish in the style of scampi called Scampi Edmondo. These are jumbo shrimp topped with seasoned bread crumbs and cooked in delicate garlic and butter sauce in the wood-fired oven.

The Pollo Alla Parmigiana is a traditional Chicken Parmigiana with a combination of fontina and parmigiano. Veal parmigiana is serve occasionally as one of the specials. If you are a fan of veal, though, try the Vitello Rustica. This is a lightly breaded veal stuffed with prosciutto and fontina and topped with a porcini mushroom sauce. Two scaloppine dishes, piccata (pork) and grouper round out the entree menu.


Traditional Italian Oven
Each pizza at Cucina Rustica is a 12-inch individual "hand-crafted" pizza topped with cheese (Classico), sliced tomatoes, cheese, garlic and basil (Margherita), or spinach, artichoke, cheese, garlic and olive oil (Rustica).

Dining Tips

You should figure on about one and a half hours to dine, since the food is made to order, perhaps more if you will be enjoying one of John and Isabella's fine wines. Don't fill up on the salad and bread, which is very easy to do because it is so good.

Cucina Rustica is extremely popular, especially as its fame has grown. It is not unusual for families to travel from Atlanta to Morganton simply to enjoy the genuine food and exceptional service.

Other things to do

Fannin County is a popular destination for adventure tourism. There are many Fannin County, Georgia, Trails including the Appalachian Trail, ride a horse at Adventure Trail Rides, or journey from Blue Ridge to McCaysville on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.


Cucina Rustica
76 Forge Mill Crossing
Morganton, Georgia 30560

County: Fannin County

Cucina Rustica


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