TNT Diner

Ruston’s latest Italian eatery has a new name. Don’t worry, they still have carbonara

A plate of bolognese from Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant in Ruston.
A plate of bolognese from Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant in Ruston.

In October, the words “Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant” unexpectedly appeared on the building at the corner of North 51st and North Pearl Streets in Ruston.

Readers asked, “Is that a new restaurant?”

Only by name.

The change represents a departure at Lovino Ristorante Italiano.

Michele Lovino was the opening chef of the restaurant that Jeff and Laura Macaluso opened in May in the former home of Point Defiance Tap and Grill. The restaurant also was named after him.

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Tagliatelle pesto from Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant in Ruston. Sue Kidd

“He decided to go another direction,” said Laura Macaluso, who said the departure was amicable.

Lovino decided that being a chef of a restaurant was not for him, she said. That presented a problem of what to do about the restaurant’s name.

“He didn’t want us to use his name, and we didn’t want his name on there either if he didn’t want it there,” she said.

The name change to Macaluso’s happened in October following his departure.

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A plate of carbonara pasta from Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant in Ruston. Sue Kidd

The change also came with a few staffing changes and an addition. Two kitchen chefs who were trained by Lovino were promoted in the kitchen. Chef James Robles and Michael Markland-Sanchez are the two chefs in the kitchen.

Diners also will notice what might be a familiar restaurant face to some — John Monreal. He’s now the general manager of Macaluso’s. Locals might recall he was the former general manager of Asado in Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue neighborhood.

As for the style of cuisine and menu at Macaluso’s — it’s pretty much the same save for a few additions.

“We added more pastas,” said Laura Macaluso. The new menus should debut soon, if not already.

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An order of clams from Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant in Ruston. Sue Kidd

One addition is fettuccine Alfredo with sausage and chicken ($19). Another is a penne arrabiata with pancetta ($15). It’s not new, but the house gnocchi now comes with a choice of marinara or pesto cream sauce ($16).

Two new vegetarian-friendly additions were added: A vegetarian antipasta appetizer ($15) and a vegetarian pizza ($14).

The basic structure of the dinner menu remains the same with a choice of 14 pastas ($15 to $22) and a selection of six entrees, ranging from osso buco ($36) to chicken marsala ($19). There’s also a choice of five pizzas ($11 to $16) and an appetizer menu that lists seven starters ($12 to $14). The restaurant also has launched its specialty cocktail menu and is about to launch a revamped wine list.

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A plate of lasagna from Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant. Sue Kidd

Macaluso said diners should take note of the restaurant’s new fresh sheet that will include a frequently changing fish selection, appetizer and dessert.

About those desserts: Fans of Dolce Si, the Sicilian bakery that exited earlier this year from Point Ruston, will appreciate that the desserts from the former pastry shop now are being served at Macaluso’s.

“We’ve been serving her pumpkin cheesecake and bourbon panna cotta,” said Macaluso of Elisabetta O’Shea’s desserts.

Macaluso expects even more desserts from Dolce Aroma — as the business has been renamed — to cycle through the menu.

Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant

Where: 5101 N. Pearl St., Ruston

Info: 253-267-1340 or

Hours: Lunch served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Dinner served 5-9 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Note: Closed Mondays for now, but open on Mondays the week after Thanksgiving.

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Sue Kidd has been The News Tribune’s restaurant critic since 2008. She dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all meals. Sue is a South Sound native. She writes about new restaurants, openings and closures and knows where to find the best tacos in every neighborhood.