BIZNOTE: La Rustica’s quiet change

(Photo courtesy La Rustica)

Thanks for the tip: A longtime family-owned West Seattle restaurant has changed families. The Pellegrinis have retired and sold La Rustica, the Italian bistro at 4100 Beach Drive SW, to the Hoffmans. Co-proprietor Kat Hoffman explained via email, when we asked, that she and her husband have owned La Rustica since November, but have loved it far longer:

My husband and I have been going to La Rustica since 2002, when my sister-in-law told us about the cutest place in West Seattle with the best cannelloni ever, garlic bread that we would eat baskets of, and the most amazing tiramisu. We have been going there ever since. I can’t tell you how many of our dates started out walking along Beach Dr while waiting for a table.

I don’t know if you believe in fate, but I do. I think things happen or don’t, when they are supposed to. We had been looking for a new business to buy since the summer of 2019, had even made some offers but deals fell through for one reason or another. So one morning in January of 2020, I was looking at a business-for-sale site and saw a listing that caught my eye. It said 25-year-old West Seattle Italian Restaurant. I told my husband, “I bet you this is La Rustica.” He lost the bet, and we bought the restaurant. It took almost 10 months to go through because of Covid.

The main thing people ask or are afraid of is, what is going to change. Really, most of the changes that have happened are more because of Covid than the ownership change. I have really only changed 4 things since taking over. I switched from paper gift certificates to plastic gift cards, made some labels for the to-go boxes and bread, started making the chocolate mousse cake instead of it being store-bought, and just introduced homemade panna cotta to the menu.

Other than that, the food/recipes, the chefs and wait staff, and everything else that makes La Rustica La Rustica has stayed the same because that is we fell in love with so long ago.

I know some people think we were crazy, buying a restaurant during a pandemic, especially with so many restaurants closing. But it’s La Rustica. The neighbors and community have been so supportive and welcoming. We haven’t made a big announcement not because we are hiding it, but because we want our guests to see nothing has really changed and that the food is still amazing. The Pellegrinis said they are planning to come back for a week this summer when things are hopefully back to normal to see everyone and to say goodbye.

La Rustica, open since 1996, is the only restaurant on Beach Drive and is across the street from Weather Watch Park.

19 Replies to "BIZNOTE: La Rustica's quiet change"

  • Lillet January 26, 2021 (2:49 pm)

    Really happy you’re keeping the tradition of La Rustica going, Kat! Congrats to you and your husband. I’m certain our West Seattle community and fans of the restaurant from near and far will continue to support this great restaurant. Looking forward to your homemade panna cotta, along with the rest of the deliciousness that is La Rustica!

  • Edd January 26, 2021 (3:30 pm)

    My wife and I went to La Rustica last week, and can attest to the new owners maintaining the high quality of the food, and moreover keeping the same menu, which we really appreciate. A 5th thing they changed is that the limoncello is no longer made in-house (or se we were told), but that’s not such a big deal. The staff gave their usual excellent service, and we were only a little bit cold eating out on their covered patio.

  • newnative January 26, 2021 (4:12 pm)

    Congrats. we finally picked up a dinner there last week after a looooong pause. it was great and I didn’t notice any difference. 

  • RayWest January 26, 2021 (4:21 pm)

    Surprising news, and my first reaction was, “Oh no!” thinking it was closing.  So glad to hear the new owners are wise enough to know near-perfection when they see it. I love La Rustica, and I’m sure their “tweaks” are great additions. I look forward to trying out the house-made mousse cake and the panna cotta.  A happy and well-deserved retirement to the Pellegrinis. I’m nearly three years retired myself and love it.

  • Kevin Calabro January 26, 2021 (4:33 pm)

    The best!  Had carry out and a bottle a coupla weeks ago.  Deelish.  So glad you will keep it going Kat.  We’ll do our part to make the biz thrive.

  • AlkiFlyer January 26, 2021 (4:37 pm)

    It sounds like La Rustica is in good hands!  Hope to see you soon!                

  • Petert January 26, 2021 (5:18 pm)

    Although I’m happy La Rustica seems to have transferred into sympathetic, caring ownership, I will miss Julie immensely. He appreciated his patrons, would always make the rounds of the tables to check on you and say ‘hello’, and he was never beyond making a request -something simple that wasn’t on the menu- and charging very fairly for it. How many places would do that ? I wish them both a very happy retirement. 

  • Paul January 26, 2021 (5:45 pm)

    Congratulations. We love that restaurant. Bought our house in West Seattle in 2002 as well!

  • Zipda January 26, 2021 (7:06 pm)

    Take out food  this summer was  pretty inconsistent. Hope it improves.

  • JWinWS January 26, 2021 (7:17 pm)

    Congratulations!  My wife and I had our first date there in 2007 and have celebrated many anniversaries there as well as other special occasions. It’s such a charming place, much like the little restaurants we visited in Italy. All the best to the Pellegrinis. We enjoyed LaRustica as well as Amy’s restaurants and market. Ciao!

  • Love La Rustica January 26, 2021 (9:02 pm)

    Oh wow, if it weren’t so late right now I would pick up the phone and order your marvelous take out, including my favorite dessert panna cotta!  I believe we dined there for our anniversary on the last day restaurants were open in March 2020 – delicious as always.  My dearly departed mother-in-law adored the lamb shank for many, many years.  Are you open on Valentine’s Day??  All the best to you in this brave endeavor, and happiest retirement to the Pellegrinis!

    • Kat January 29, 2021 (8:16 pm)

      Hi, we are open on Valentine’s Day and taking reservations for both our indoor and outdoor dining.  Also, we now offer online ordering on our website

  • Rebecca January 27, 2021 (7:09 am)

    Wow!  This is huge news!  We have lived in West Seattle since 1998 and La Rustica has always been our favorite restaurant. Their risotto is my favorite and you can’t beat the tiramisu!  My husband and I just ate there two weeks ago and we had no idea about the change!  We were impressed by the service (as always!) and loved being able to sit outside to enjoy our meal. I look forward to meeting the new owners and dining there again soon.

  • Date night January 27, 2021 (7:38 am)

    Thank you for keeping La Rustica alive and well for the next generation of date nights, special occasions, birthday dinners, anniversaries, etc. etc. Best Restaurant Ever! 

  • Greengirl January 27, 2021 (7:24 pm)

    Agree with your sentiments. We bought our house in 2001 and have always loved spending family celebrations there. The experience was always topped off by Mr. P. checking in at our table. Loved the Italian deli that used to be in the junction that his daughter and son-in-law owned for a while as well. Mr.& Mrs. P. helped with that as well. It was a Sunday tradition to visit the deli, during the the farmers market. Happy retirement to this deserving couple. 

  • Andreea January 28, 2021 (8:57 am)

    Love this! We just had our anniversary dinner there last week, it was lovely outside under the heaters and with a soft sea breeze, and the food and service were perfection! Including a slice of that new homemade chocolate cake. Congrats to you and your whole crew. We are lucky to have you!

  • Susan WILLIAMS January 28, 2021 (11:52 am)

    We bought the condo across the street from La Rustica in 1996.  For over 12 years the aroma of that bread called to me when I got off work.   I mean, who wants to cook, right?  All our best to Julio and Janie from Susie and the Pirate

  • Laura&John January 28, 2021 (1:18 pm)

    We love La Rustica! My husband proposed to me in the tiny back room waiting bar :-)  His plan was to propose before dinner at the little park across the street but it was too crowded, so he popped the question in the adorable waiting bar. We’re so glad to hear that La Rustica will carry on and wish the new owners much success. Best wishes to the Pellegrinis for a happy and well deserved retirement!

  • HappyOnAlki January 28, 2021 (9:43 pm)

     Homemade panna cotta . . . .

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