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Lovino Ristorante Italiano in Ruston

At last, someone is here to fill the void of authentic, scratch-made Italian fare

Scratch-made pasta delights at Lovino. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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ANNOUNCER: After a long wait, Lovino Italian restaurant opened a few weeks ago in Ruston. Jackie and Dutch rushed in, even before the cobwebs could be cleaned away, to dine on authentic scratch-made pasta, bread and other hard-to-find dishes.

DUTCH: Though the early stages of any restaurant always bring about some inconsistencies in day-to-day operations and staff, it is clear that Lovino is going to be a popular spot for anyone that appreciates genuine Italian dishes. The space is filled with the smell of garlic, fresh-baked bread, and olive oil along with plenty of friendly staff.

JACKIE: The space hasn't undergone a complete transformation but feels open and approachable, yet upscale. Rather than white tablecloths, you'll spy crisp, white paper with mis en place in place. The menu has plenty of options available, though, some expansion, including a kids menu, is expected to come at a later date. Lovino's is still in a soft open phase as of now. 

DUTCH: There is a handful of antipasti selections that still offer a good variety such as fresh calamari, sautéed clams and Caprese. I ordered the Antipasto Misto, which is a selection of cheese and cured meats. My serving arrived with grilled French bread and assorted pickled olives and peppers. The salty, smoky, spicy, and pungent flavors all worked well together, and the drizzling of olive oil on the plate was a nice touch as well.

JACKIE: On my visit, the bread was a house-made focaccia! Perfectly toasted to highlight a delightful crunch to each bite that reveals a pillow-y soft, bready interior. The peppers walloped with a kick of spice that only nibbles of cheese and meat could extinguish. Combined with the bread service, this starter is perfectly shareable. Save space for the main course. 

DUTCH: The waitress promised fresh seafood if I ordered the Maccheroni Pescatore, and so I went with her recommendation. I was not disappointed! The fresh-made pasta was swimming in a light tomato white wine sauce that allowed the seafood flavors to mix with the fresh cherry tomatoes and garlic. The combination of white fish, salmon, prawns, mussels, calamari and clams were all as fresh as promised, and none were overpowering as some seafood dishes have a tendency to be.

JACKIE: I opted for the Gnocchi Marinara and was impressed with generous portions. The house-made gnocchi were light and fluffy with a nice chew. The sauce provided a matrimony of acidity from the tomato, creamy richness from gooey cheese throughout, and a tease of herbaceous-ness courtesy of some julienned basil. I recommend using some of that leftover focaccia as a vehicle to scoop up sauce that would otherwise go ignored on your plate. For an establishment in the throughs of working out operations, I predict awesomeness in their future. And authentic Italian is something we've been needing for far too long. 

LOVINO RISTORANTE ITALIANO, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5-9 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday; closed Mondays, 5101 N. Pearl St., Tacoma, 253.267.1340,

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