Not just a rumor: Rumari’s dishes really are authentically Italian

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

In the 1970’s Bina and Antonio Crivello left their native Italy for a new life in America with their sons Massimo and Vince. Starting in LA it wasn’t long before the boys developed a love for cooking and a love for our beautiful Laguna Beach. A love, which saw them move here in 1989 and open Restaurant Rumari, Rumari meaning restaurant of the sea. 

For 30 years this traditional fragment of Italy has served locals and tourist in Laguna Beach. The restaurant is recognized by its cozy and friendly ambience, its warm dining room and a twinkle-lit romantic patio. It counts mama Bina’s famous Sicilian style cannoli recipe and papa Antonio’s delicious foccacia bread as its famous favorites. 

Rumari is a real “family affair” with some members of staff that have worked in the restaurant for close to 30 years. General Manager Martine is always a friendly face to welcome you in. And the wait staff are knowledgeable and friendly.

Click on photo for a larger image

Cannoli is made Sicilian style by Mama Bina

Our server was Fiore, who has been with Rumari for six years. She considers the Rumari family to be an extension of her own and her passion for the restaurant is evident as she guides us through the menu.

For this visit we decided to eat family style. Those who read my column weekly know that this is my favorite way to eat. I had the pleasure of three wonderful young diners with me this week, my son Jesse (age 14) my daughter Lula (Age 11) and their friend Hunter (age 11). 

Rumari’s menu is split into sections, small plates, pasta, salads, appetizers and mains. Without hesitation the boys in a group selected the veal meatballs from the small plate menu. These were absolutely delicious, served in a deliciously brothy tomato sauce, the meat was rich yet tender and the spices and binding ingredients were a cornucopia of flavors. Having had the best meatballs of my life during a visit to Sicily in 1998, I can honestly say these were just as good.

Click on photo for a larger image

The meatballs were as good as the ones I tasted in Sicily

My little pizza-loving daughter went for the pan fried pizzette margarita. Pizzette, for me, always implies small. This pizzette was not small at all. It was delicious, again the tomato sauce was so tasty and the combinations of cheeses (I feel like it was mozzarella and possible a mature chedder) was perfect. It was also super thin crust, which is definitely my preference. 

I decided to choose something lighter and went for a special of the evening, asparagus wrapped in pancetta with shavings of mozzarella. This was a delicious dish and surprisingly my small guests wolfed them down also.

It was then time to try a pasta dish (how could we not!) with over 16 pasta dishes (most of which can be served gluten free) it was difficult to choose.

However as we had gone for a fairly tomato based small menu to begin with, we chose to go for a more creamy pasta option and tried the Fettuccine Dello Chef Alfredo, which was an Alfredo sauce with tiger shrimp and parmigiano cheese. This was an outstanding dish and at this point I was regretting the family style choice as I sadly had to share it with the pesky kids! The shrimp was heavenly and huge, the sauce rich and decadent. I love that feeling when you know you made the right choice. I would highly recommend it.

It was then on to select a main and I asked Fiore for her recommendation. She offered me three fish dishes but in the end the Seabass Piccata won. Piccatta sauce is made up of lemon, white wine butter and capers and served over the seabass was exceptionally good, served with seasonal vegetables and a beautiful potato gratin, this was an outstanding recommendation that the whole table really enjoyed.

Click on photo for a larger image

The seabass was exceptionally good

What I feel I should say now is that at this point in our meal, I felt like I could have been sitting in a restaurant in Italy or Sicily. The authenticity of Rumari’s is really incredible, from the décor, to the table scape, to the menu. It really is like someone picked up the restaurant from Italy and flew it right here to Laguna.

An Italian meal wouldn’t be complete without a fabulous Italian dessert and we were not disappointed, out came a Tiramisu and a cannoli. Both of these (along with crème brulee) are on my wish list to be served to me on my deathbed, kind of morbid, but very true. And now I’ve changed that to ensure that both of these desserts come from Rumari.  

The tiramisu was authentic, rich, creamy and more-ish and the cannoli just the right consistency with its crispy coating and its heavenly filling. Seriously good.

Alongside all of this amazing food, I was kept well lubricated with a selection of wines that Rumari proudly carries.

My experience at Rumari was beyond exceptional. If you have never visited Italy, you have to book in at Rumari to experience traditional Italian flavor. If you have visited Italy and feel that you want to get back there, without the heavy plane fare, you definitely need to book a visit. 

Grazie Ristorante Rumari, ritorerò presto.

Rumari is located at 1826 South Coast Highway. Call 949-494-0400.

Kya

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillepsie  Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

Email: Lynette@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc

949.715.1736