When you learn that the restaurant, which operates with a small bar licence, has more than 100 choices of cocktails, sangria, wines and beers, it’s not really a surprise that Rustico owner Vanessa Phillipson chose to enter the category ” not that she thought they’d win.
‘We don’t ever expect it; there are so many new, passionate operators entering the industry every year, and as this is a state-wide competition all finalists have as good as a chance as the next,’ she said.
‘The Classroom (which won last year’s small bar category) was our competition in the small bar category. We didn’t think we’d beat them as they are pretty unique, modern, fashionable and have had lots of press about them.’
Not that it’s all about the drinks, with staff including chef Shannon Whitmore always striving for consistency and quality.
It’s clear Rustico has a big following throughout Perth, rated as the best local restaurant with an 87 per cent approval rating on review site Urbanspoon and with 15 per cent of its mailing list subscribers hailing from out of the area.
‘This is almost double the amount from two years ago,’ Mrs Phillipson said.
‘There are lots of reasons to come to Rockingham and Rustico, whether we are the choice once they arrive or vice versa.
‘We change the menu two to three times a year, but it is getting harder to make changes as we have so many dishes customers come to us specifically for.’