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Elkhart Dining Days 2015: Rulli's gets back to the basics

At Rulli’s Pizza, a basket of bread comes to the table after you sit down.

There’s butter but the bread is moist enough, you don’t need the butter. 

The crust is tender too, more than most Italian bread. This is good bread, made from a family recipe of a family that’s been in the food business four decades.

That’s one of the things that’s part of eating at Rulli’s. So is a sweet Italian salad dressing, also from a family recipe.

That one Sam Rulli had to buy back from a food company that went out of business during the recession. It was distributed far beyond the Middlebury and Elkhart Rulli’s locations, but now it’s made at those locations, about 100 gallons at a time, and used on the salads or sold in pints and quarts.

During a visit for Elkhart Dining Days on Thursday, Nov. 5, I learned again the goodness of this dressing and this bread.

Sam and Mary Rulli follow in his family’s footsteps and offer Italian food at a reasonable price. There was a chef at the Elkhart location in the past, but now a couple guys who have been working for him since they were young teenagers are doing the work.

Erik Sikes is managing the restaurant, 54595 C.R. 17. Shawn Schrock is in the kitchen. Both have been working for Rulli’s since they were about 14, Sam said. They’ve learned what Sam learned from his folks, who have had a restaurant in Mishawaka for years.

“I’m kind of getting back to our roots,” he said.

The sacotino, little pillows of pasta filled with sausage, was with vegetables in a vodka sauce that was more like a cheese sauce. You can order two pasta specials for $30 as part of Dining Days, but you can also get one and that bread, salad, pasta, dessert and a beverage came out to $18.

Shrock is proud of the dessert. It’s a panna cotta with fruit. The white gelatin-based dessert is simple and good. 

“That’s something I don’t have in Middlebury,” Rulli said.

The takeout pizza business is “crazy busy,” he said. He keeps doing what his family has done: serving simple, Italian food with a few American touches.

Rulli’s has a loyal following of regulars. There’s that bar, that bread, that salad dressing. Those are all reasons to visit.

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