(A-B) Argy-Bargy restaurant reviews provide residents and visitors of Laguna Beach a local’s perspective on good eats in our town.
Many of us share fond memories from years past of Rumari Ristorante, when previous owners, Max and Vince Crivello, would welcome us like family and share a toast to life at the intimate bar the locals knew well. Friends and relatives of the brothers frequented their establishment for authentic Italian dishes and warm vibes. A few years back, they remodeled the bar, and a good friend of mine, Jasmine, was the sweet smiling face who greeted you upon entry and poured the wine. I would often recommend this place to guests of the Surf and Sand Resort where I worked. Fast forward a few years, and it turns out the Crivello's sold the business to Chris Keller in 2019, who brought in his right-hand man, Craig Connole, to reopen this charming restaurant and local favorite in Laguna Beach.
Joining Craig is his sister, Christi Bell, and her daughter, Keely Bell. Together, they have created a new menu that includes some favorites from the previous menu of Rumari and some creative dishes by Craig. "He is so excited to be cooking Italian Cuisine once again," said Christi. They also have added a new Italian Market, Famiglia Alimentari, that features grab-and-go items such as homemade pasta and sauces, salads, as well as beer and wine. They also offer picnic baskets that you can customize with your favorite Chianti or Pinot Grigio.
It was great to see so many familiar faces during my recent dining experience; Lucian Stefonik, who has worked closely with Chef Craig in past years at K'ya and Big Fish, and Sammy, the classic bartender of the original establishment. Also, the Ocean View Patio has tripled the amount of seating and was popping throughout this past holiday weekend. It seems the word is out about Rumari's fresh new look, not to mention a staff of friendly familiar faces and Chef Connole's exceptional skills from feeding this town over a decade.
My dining partner and I shared the Grilled Octopus and a Caprese Salad for appetizers. Both were outstanding, but I particularly loved the Burrata cheese on the Caprese Salad versus Mozzarella. Next, she ordered a Seafood Pasta, and I opted for a famous Italian dish of Chicken Picatta. The portions were huge, and the pasta was loaded with a variety of fresh seafood such as prawns, scallops, and calamari combined with a Squid Ink pasta in a savory sauce. The Chicken Piccata was tender and flavorful and served with nicely cooked vegetables and a superb lemon caper sauce. We followed up our dinner with homemade Cannoli and Tiramisu, two classic Italian desserts that did not disappoint.
We are lucky to have Chef Craig in town still, and it's great to see our local favorites like Rumari Ristorante open again and buzzing with celebrations and toasts to life. So be sure to stop by, try their new market items to go, or stick around and experience the new Wine Bar, Osteria, complete with its unique menu featuring Chef's specialty items. In addition, if you are planning an event, you need catered or have a private event that you would like to host from Rumari Ristorante, they want to help make it a memorable affair.
1826 South Coast Highway