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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 07/27/2009

Rustico Taps a New Chef and Plots a Second Location

By Tom Sietsema

The Neighborhood Restaurant Group has hired Steve Mannino to replace the recently departed Frank Morales at Rustico in Alexandria. The company also announced plans to open a second branch of the neighborhood restaurant, at 4075 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington, next June.

Mannino, 36, is no stranger to the area, having opened Olives in Washington a decade ago. In 2004, he left the city to cook at Olives in Las Vegas. Later, he helped Philadelphia restaurateur Steven Starr open Buddakan and the Continental in Atlantic City.

Michael Babin, co-owner of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, didn't have to look far to find his new executive chef: Mannino's been employed by the restaurant company in a catering capacity since November. "We needed to see if we liked each other," jokes Mannino.

His intended style at Rustico? "Not too many ingredients," says the chef. "If there's mushroom ravioli, you'll know it has mushrooms." He was drawn to the job in part because "this is the food I like to eat."

Coming soon at Rustico, says the fresh hire: Chicken wings -- and also foie gras.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | July 27, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Tom Sietsema  
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Yes, and can you PLEASE add a few more varieties of mussels than just regular tomato broth? It's good, but something more succulent for winter would be GREAT!

Posted by: sigmagrrl | July 29, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I hope that the new chef will retain, and even expand, Rustico's gluten free offerings. The melon and cherry tomato salad I had there last weekend was fabulous, and the duck confit pizza on their chick-pea crust was incredible.

Posted by: --sg | July 29, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

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