MOORHEAD — Guy Fieri had only good things to say about the two dishes he tasted at Rustica Eatery and Tavern in Moorhead on his Food Network show Friday night, April 30.
It was the final premiere of the six restaurants he visited in Moorhead and Fargo and featured on his show "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives" since last fall. Fieri said he was on his first ever visit to the two cities during his time here last summer.
He described Rustica, which has reopened at 315 Main Ave. in the historic 1898 building after two pandemic shutdowns in the past year, as a place for American food with a European twist.
Rustica chef Micah Leitel prepared pasta chorizo and then a fingerling potato poutine for the well-known guest.
Although the show was filmed last year, the pasta is still on the menu and the poutine will be back next week.
Fieri said the two co-owners — Leitel and general manager Anna Weisenburger — found a great way to become owners as the former employees purchased the restaurant from their former boss.
"It takes a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of energy" to own a restaurant, he said.
The jovial Fieri joked often with Leitel, especially about the chef's former time as a disc jockey, as they dove into the details of the ingredients for the two dishes.
Fieri had a big laugh when Leitel told him that his disc jockey name was "Stupid Birthday."
He said he's never had a dish prepared for him by a disc jockey with such a name.
The pasta, after Fieri dug into the dish, said it "eats like Mexican chorizo, but tastes like Spanish chorizo because of the paprika and smoked paprika."
"It's really good," he said.
The dishes also gained praise from the restaurant guests that Fieri interviewed, including well known Moorhead residents former mayors Johnathan Judd and Del Rae Williams as well as Downtown Moorhead CEO Derrick LaPoint.
As for the poutine, Fieri loved that it was made with crispy fried potato fingerlings instead of french fries. The shredded braised beef in the poutine, Leitel said, was baked for four hours.
"You've elevated it. You took it and mixed it up," he said about the dish.
When Leitel said he puts the gravy on the side and that it was homemade, Fieri said "it takes a lot of time and energy" to create the gravy and also thought it was unique that it was offered on the side.
"Your dish has a lot more sophistication than you would find in most poutines," Fieri said.
Fieri drew plenty of attention when he brought his Flavortown tour to four restaurants in Fargo and two in Moorhead in the summer of 2020 as establishments were faced with restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Episodes featuring the local eateries began airing last fall with downtown restaurant Pounds featured on Nov. 13, followed by Blackbird Woodfire on Nov. 20, Passage to India on Jan. 8, Nichole's Fine Pastry & Cafe on Jan. 29 and Moorhead's Sol Ave. Kitchen on Feb. 12.