Covering the dining scene in and around the OC
We revisited a few of our favorite restaurants recently to see how they were doing and sample any new menu items. One of our top newcomers last year was Rustica, which Chef Grant MacPherson launched last June at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. But when we stopped by the restaurant last week, we discovered that Chef Grant had left Rustica to launch a new culinary project.
The Chef de Cuisine that Grant had brought with him from Las Vegas, Renieri Caceres, is now the Executive Chef at Rustica. He’s made a few changes to the menu, although our favorite grilled octopus appetizer is still available and tasting as good as ever.
Here’s the scoop: now dubbed Rustica California Wine Bistro, the restaurant focuses on contemporary regional cuisine created with a commitment to quality, handcrafted ingredients and products. Executive Chef Renieri Caceres’ menu showcases fresh, seasonal produce and farm-raised meats.
Chef Ren brings more than a decade of experience to Rustica, having worked with several renowned chefs, including Chef Julian Serrano from famed San Francisco’s Masa, with whom he opened Las Vegas’ Picasso Restaurant in Bellagio Hotel and Casino. From there, Chef Ren assumed role of assistant chef at the Bellagio’s Aqua Restaurant, created by celebrity Michael Mina and led by Chef Mark LoRusso. While his main focus was on quality assurance of all cuisine, Chef Ren trained his staff extensively on Mobil Five Star and Five Diamond standards.
Amid the ever-changing dining landscape of Las Vegas, Chef Ren was tapped to assist Chef Mark LoRUsso in the opening of the Wynn Hotel and Casino’s VIP restaurant, Tableau. There, he focused on the development of seasonal menus and execution of the cuisine. From there, Chef Ren went on to open Botero with Chef LoRusso, at the Wynn’s sister property, the Encore Hotel.
With that kind of epicurean pedigree, and based on our recent visit, we have a feeling Rustica is in good hands. We’ll write about our full dining experience at Rustica in our Table for Two column in the Newport Beach Independent very soon.
For more information, visit www.rusticafashionisland.com.