Nestled in the heart of Summerville, La Rustica serves up the incredible flavors of Chef Giulio Pellegrini’s native region of Italy in an atmosphere that embodies true southern hospitality and makes you feel like family.
The Southern style home on the corner of North Magnolia Street and East 3rd North Street has seen many incarnations. For decades, it has vacillated between a residence and office space. Now, because of the culinary and artistic vision of the Pellegrini family, the building has been transformed into La Rustica, a fine dining restaurant serving authentic Italian cuisine in a casual relaxed atmosphere.
Giulio Pellegrini, his wife Janie, their daughter Aimee, and her husband Hector Arroyo, along with their children Annina and Valentine are not strangers to the restaurant business. Giulio, a self-taught chef from Frosinone Province in central Italy, and his Michigan raised wife, Janie, ran a successful restaurant for 37 years in West Seattle. Here, Aimee (who has a Bachelor’s of Drama with a Minor in Architecture) learned the business and met her husband Hector, a Taqueria chef from Guanajuato, Mexico. Looking for a change of climate, the multigenerational family found Summerville’s thriving community offered opportunities for their family of six to feel a sense of place and belonging.
Over the years working and living together, the Pellegrini’s cultivated an encompassing “all for one, one for all” attitude that recognizes each other’s creative strengths. Janie and Aimee acknowledge that after purchasing the property at 315 North Magnolia Street, it took time for the house “to reveal itself” but once it did, everyone was instrumental in the space’s metamorphosis.
With mindful precision, allowing the sizable yard to support the house, they collectively executed an aesthetically balanced renovation that resonates with old-world charm. A well-proportioned fountain anchors the property establishing a focal point for the porch and patio seating. This water feature embodies the European influences found in the Lowcountry’s gardens. Inside, velvet curtains highlighting travertine walls and painted ceilings dance with the copper table tops to the music orchestrated by a genuine love of meal preparation. Aimee, radiating with an infectious smile, reiterates,
“Being able to channel our love of art, music, and aesthetic expression keeps us going. Each family member’s creativity contributed to the ambiance, style, and menu of our restaurant. My husband, Hector, designed and built the wrought iron gate; Using my design, my father built the bar, my mother, an avid seamstress sewed the curtains and upholstered the benches, and I painted the ceiling and Venetian plaster.”
Now open, Pellegrini Family’s collective dedication continues to play a vital role setting the tone for La Rustica’s success. Self-taught chef and patriarch, Giulio uses fresh quality ingredients combined with subtle ingenuity creating original creations that enhance traditional authentic Italian dishes. Giulio recounts his earlier days learning to cook,
“When I first started out, I knew the flavors of my native region’s recipes, but I struggled to get them just right. I would call my mother and she would explain how to create the sauces and roasts, but some were antiquated so I read cooking books and experimented with the ingredients to develop my own style of Italian cooking.”
Soulmates in the kitchen, Giulio and Hector have similar cooking styles allowing them to collaborate on dishes, modifying them with their innate gift for taste and consistency. Their aim is to provide variety and continuity without sacrificing the rich palate of Guilio’s signature dishes. Everything, the bread, pasta, main courses, and desserts, (made by Janie) are made from scratch—in house. A steward of her father’s culinary legacy, Aimee is instrumental in managing the daily operations of the restaurant and collaborating on seasonal menu selections. She can be found, with the rest of her extended family, in the restaurant greeting guests, behind the bar, in the kitchen or mothering her children after school. The Pellegrini family dynamics makes La Rustica what it is… a fabulous multicultural, multigenerational Italian dining experience that adds a layer to the Town of Summerville’s culturally diverse culinary and artistic landscape. AM
La Rustica is open Monday through Friday for a light happy hour served outside between 3:00pm and 5:00pm. Dinner hours are Monday through Saturday, 5:00pm – 10:00pm. For more info visit larusticamagnolia.com