Rulli's Italian Restaurant just might have the best wings in the area

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By: Michael Tomko

Michael Tomko

I’d like to introduce myself here really quick. My name is Mike, I have lived in Elkhart for the past 11½ years, and I will be writing about local places that serve chicken wings.

I have no official qualifications to be critiquing these places, except that I have eaten many, many wings over the years. At one time during my single days, I was probably eating wings for dinner at an average of four times a week.

I even ate wings for breakfast a few years ago, when Notre Dame played a game in Ireland and Buffalo Wild Wings (BDubs) opened for breakfast.

I don’t even like Notre Dame, but when I heard BDubs was opening for breakfast, I got up early, threw on my Purdue jersey and headed over there. They did offer eggs and other traditional breakfast food, but at halftime I was sitting there with wings and a beer.

Another time, my wife and I took a trip to Niagara Falls and ate at this place called Boston Pizza. We ordered a small pizza, and when we were done, the waitress came around and asked us if we wanted dessert.

My wife, who was pregnant at the time, ordered a slice of chocolate cake. When the waitress looked at me, I thumbed through the menu a little and said something like, “I’m gonna get six of these chicken wings here.”

So, yes, I have even had chicken wings for dessert. (In my defense, I was on vacation at the time, and you could also say I was having “sympathy cravings” being around my pregnant wife.)

I’m writing this blog to share my experiences eating wings, tell some stories and most importantly, give you a good, honest critique of wings being served around Elkhart, Michiana and beyond.

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Rulli’s Italian Restaurant

Originally, Rulli’s Italian Restaurant was only located out in Middlebury. About a year ago, the restaurant opened up a second location in Elkhart, down on C.R. 17 in a building that has been many things since I moved here.

The first time I went to this building, it was a ’50s-style diner called Alley Oops. It had a theme and served hamburgers very similar to a place in my hometown called Schoop’s, which is pretty popular out in the northwest part of the state.

When Alley Oops closed, the building became a butcher shop that once sold me chuck-eye steaks when I asked for rib-eye. A couple years later, the butcher shop closed down and one of the worst diners that I’ve ever eaten at opened. That diner only lasted for about a month, and Rulli’s came in and redesigned the whole place to what it is now.

Rulli’s is mostly known for its pizza and Italian pasta dishes. Luckily, I popped in there after bowling one night and ordered a few of the restaurant’s wings.

Little did I know I would be tasting the best wings I had ever eaten that night.

I consider Rulli’s wings to be the “steak of wings.” Chicken at Rulli’s is broasted, which means it is deep fried under very high pressure. The restaurant gives its wings the same treatment.

Even without a sauce, Rulli’s wings are excellent. The breading is crispy and contains enough flavor to eat right off the plate. Because of the broasting, the chicken remains juicy.

Rulli’s can serve wings to you with a side of hot sauce, which I prefer to having them coated in it beforehand. I do have a trick to dipping these wings. The drummies are simple – just dip them in and bite. The wing part is a little tricky, as the bowl of sauce isn’t large enough to get proper coverage. So, pour a little sauce on your plate and set the wing in it. Coat both sides, and you have a perfectly sauced wing.

It’s got some heat to it – I’d say a two out of four. I believe it’s just Frank’s Hot Sauce with a little butter; not unique, but still very tasty.

The restaurant does not serve you those small, mini wings either. You get a good, large size, and a dozen will fill you up. These wings are so good I even picked some up on my birthday before I came home for dinner.

The price of these wings is also a huge bonus. You get 12 for $8, which gives you a P12 value (price of a wing when you buy 12) of 67 cents. There’s a special on Mondays that puts them at 60 cents each.

You know the feeling you get after ordering a great steak, when it comes out hot and juicy and is tasty and filling? That’s how I feel when I go and get some wings at Rulli’s. That’s why I call them “the steak of wings.” 

Michael Tomko is an Elkhart engineer who reviews chicken wings around the area in his community blog, Taste These Broken Wings.

Would you like to become a community blogger for Flavor 574? Get in touch with community manager Ann Elise Taylor at ataylor@elkharttruth.com.

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