TNT Diner

You need this Sunday jazz brunch in your life. Biscuits and gravy, breakfast pasta, more

The area’s newest brunch service has everything one needs for a perfect Sunday morning — an Italian-themed breakfast menu, breakfast cocktails and a side of live jazz.

Macaluso’s, the Ruston Italian restaurant known for its slow-cooked osso buco and velvety carbonara, added Sunday brunch service in early March.

It was Jay Mabin’s idea.

Mabin is the acclaimed Chicago-born jazz musician who performs widely in the area. These days, he’s performing with his Jay Mabin Trio. He’s the guy on harmonica.

“I’ve known him forever,” said Laura Macaluso, who opened her restaurant last year with husband Jeff.

She ran into Mabin at her restaurant, and they got to talking.

“He’d come into the restaurant to eat, and he kept telling me, ‘I have an idea,’” she said.

That idea turned out to be a live jazz performance every Sunday morning at the restaurant by his jazz trio, paired with brunch.

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Live music from the Jay Mabin Trio at Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant in Ruston. Sue Kidd

Macaluso embraced that offer.

“I thought it was an amazing idea. We already had everything in house we needed to make brunch. It’s a great way to expand our offerings, so we did it,” she said.

The menu is a collection of classic American breakfast offerings brushed a little Italian around the edges.

There’s Italian sausage at the base of the gravy served over biscuits. The frittata is the classic Italian recipe, with a choice of vegetarian or sausage. And of course there’s a bellini on the menu. That Italian breakfast cocktail pairs Prosecco with peach puree.

Here’s a deeper look at the new brunch service.

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Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant in Ruston. Sue Kidd

The space: If you haven’t been to Macaluso’s since its former life as Point Defiance Tap and Grill, you’ll spot the difference right away. The half wall that bisected the dining room was removed to create an open space, which means the light from the expansive windows now washes across the entire room.

On the wall where the chalkboard once listed the day’s tap selections, a sizable wine collection now sits. Banquette and table seating ring a room equipped with drop lighting that casts a moody hue by night. A bar is nestled into the back of the space, with a separate entrance.

The brunch menu: Biscuits and gravy ($11), a sausage or vegetable frittata with fruit and roasted potatoes ($12), a classic breakfast ($14), French toast ($12) a breakfast pizza ($12) and fruit salad ($12).

Classic Italian dishes: Fortifying the breakfast menu is a handful of core items from the lunch-and-dinner menu. There are four each of pizza ($12 to $16) and pasta, including the ultimate in breakfast pasta — spaghetti carbonara ($15 to $17).

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Biscuits and gravy from Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant in Ruston. Sue Kidd

The breakfast cocktails: A Prosecco and peach puree bellini ($12), mimosa with fresh-squeezed orange juice ($12), a bloody Mary ($12) and a coffee cocktail made with Bailey’s and Frangelico ($12).

Coffee: From Caffé D’arte.

That music: The trio sets up in the front left corner of the dining room. The music starts shortly after brunch service begins at 10 a.m. and continues until 2 p.m. with the occasional 15-minute break. Expect to hear classic jazz standards and more on the set list.

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A vegetable breakfast frittata, roasted potatoes and fruit from Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant in Ruston. Sue Kidd

On a first visit: Get the biscuits and gravy with a creamy gravy fortified by mildly spiced Verone’s Italian sausage ($11). The vegetable frittata was the hit of the table. Soft and eggy toward the center, boosted with arugula, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes, it had been cooked in a mini skillet until golden brown at the edges ($12). The dish came with red grapes, cubed cantaloupe and well-roasted fingerlings.

The French toast was stacked tall with a side of real maple syrup to drizzle over eggy bread scented with vanilla and finished with a poofy cloud of whipped cream ($12).

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French toast with fruit from Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant in Ruston. Sue Kidd

The classic breakfast was just that — eggs any you want them with breakfast potatoes, fresh fruit and two big links of spicy sausage ($14).

Whether visiting for brunch, lunch, dinner or happy hour, the deeply satisfying spaghetti carbonara will feed you well. A tangle of al dente spaghetti arrives draped in a velvety egg sauce, grated Parmesan and threaded with slow-cooked pork cheek ($15).

Reservations: Recommended.

Easter: The restaurant will have its regular brunch service with live jazz music on Easter Sunday.

Macaluso’s Italian Restaurant

Where: 5101 N. Pearl St., Ruston

Info: 253-267-1340 or

Brunch served: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays

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.