French Onion Soup And Steak At Rustico In Ballston

Soup's on with Rustico's new steak dish

The best French onion soup you can get right now isn't a soup at all. It's Rustico's new steak entrée.

This beer-centric tavern–which just opened its second location in Ballston last week–serves a hearty steak ($32) that's layered with the deconstructed components of French onion soup.

Chef Steve Mannino makes brioche bread pudding for the base. He sears the brioche to crisp the edges without losing the soft, eggy middle. Next, he tops it with a thick, juicy New York strip and a ladle of beef jus to soften the brioche.

To create the onion layer, Mannino actually makes French onion soup with beef stock, garlic, red and white onions, brandy and thyme, then reduces it to a thick, sweet compote of onions that tops the steak. As a final flourish, the steak and onions are covered with slices of Gruyère cheese, then broiled to get the soup's bubbly melted-cheese lid.

The dish is colossal, but if you have room to spare, order the ricotta doughnuts ($7). Made from Mannino's grandmother's (formerly) secret recipe, the sugar-covered doughnuts arrive steaming and hot. They'll round out the meal, from soup to doughnuts.

Rustico, 4075 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 571-384-1820 or