Chef Francesco Cusimano owner of Rustico Ristorante and Pizzeria in Murrieta came to America from Italy in 1992, two years after meeting his wife Filippa on the warm sandy beaches of Sicily, but his romance for food began many years before his love for Filippa.
Inspired by his mom’s passion for food he knew from an early age that cooking was his destiny. Having worked in his uncle’s restaurant in Sicily, as a youngster, he learned firsthand to never sacrifice the quality of the food that you are going to use for cooking. He was always amazed by what his mom could make with simple ingredients. “I remember waking up in the hot summer days in Sicily with the wonderful smell of the marinara and basil sauce allover the house or the aroma of fried eggplant handpicked from the farmer’s market”.
As a young immigrant, Francesco had to learn everything from scratch once again. He first went to school to learn English and while still learning, Francesco worked as a Chef at Dominic’s Italian Restaurant in Carlsbad, one of the restaurants owned by his wife’s family. It was there that he learned how to please the American palate.
A few years later the opportunity of a life time came knocking at the door. Francesco was hired by one of the most successful companies in all of California, Ladeki Restaurant group, where he became chef operator in charge of 14 restaurants scattered throughout California, Nevada and Arizona. Here is where he met and worked with many talented chefs from varied backgrounds including Executive Chef Jeff Moock and Chef-Owner Stephen Window from Ropongi located in La Jolla California. “I consider Chef Steve my best friend after my father” he says. While Working at Ropongi with Chef Steve, Francesco learned the art of fusion cooking while acquiring a taste for Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine, all the while gaining invaluable experience.
Francesco opened his first Pizza shop in 2000 and kept it for three successful years. He then sold it to move to Murrieta California where he teamed up with Joseph Cusumano to open one of the most successful restaurants in the valley.
His cuisine is simple, rustic and very flavorful with a bit of Asian flair and it’s that same simplicity infused with traditional and personal touch that is the core of Rustico’s menu. “A full service, sit-down family restaurant was always my dream” said Francesco. Rustico is a place where he takes traditional Italian recipes and ambiance that makes customers feel like they’re in his hometown of Italy! This is the experience Francesco brings to the table at Rustico.
Chef Francesco has been pleasing palates at Rustico’s since they opened in August of 2004, and he continues to evolve the menu and the wine list, so you, your family and friends can have an unforgettable experience.
Ciao a tutti