Regional Dining Guide

The Rusty Putter: Good Food in a Friendly Neighborhood Atmosphere


Restaurant Profile: The Rusty Putter Steakhouse & Pub

Pam Gray, general manager of The Rusty Putter Steakhouse & Pub, in Roscoe, Ill. (Dustin Waller photo)

Sheryl and Bill Helman relocated to Rockton, Ill., two-and-a-half years ago. Since then, one of their best discoveries is a quaint restaurant called The Rusty Putter Steakhouse & Pub in nearby Roscoe, Ill. The Helmans frequent the local steakhouse once or twice a week.

“The staff is great, and the food is consistently good,” Sheryl says. “It’s nice to have a real restaurant menu to order from, not just a bar food menu.” Bill is a big fan of the lamb and escargot. One of Sheryl’s favorite items is the Filetto Crostini appetizer, starring beef, goat cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette. “How can you go wrong?” Sheryl asks. “It’s been a great addition to the Roscoe/Rockton area.”

That seems to be the consensus about the steakhouse, 5506 Clayton Circle, not far from Illinois Route 251. It’s known for good food, pleasant ambience and affordable prices, says Pam Gray, general manager.

“We’re about fine dining in a very casual setting,” she says. “You don’t feel like you have to dress up. You can come in to have anything from fillet or bone-in rib-eye to burgers and specialty pizzas.”

As its name implies, The Rusty Putter opened in 2008 with the intention of drawing local golfers for a meal or a couple of drinks after a round on the course. Before long, however, it developed an identity of its own. “We really have a diverse clientele,” Gray says. “That’s what makes our restaurant so appealing for customers.”

The restaurant is known for its Friday fish fry and Saturday night prime-rib dinners. Also popular are the specialty pizzas, which come in 12- or 14-inch thin-crust pies made to order with fresh ingredients. Crab cakes, barbecue ribs and pasta dishes, such as porcini tortellini and shrimp scampi, also are crowd favorites.

The appetizer menu is inviting, with selections from tuna sashimi to chicken tenders. And save room for dessert, which includes crème brulee, cherry and blueberry cobblers, tiramisu and a variety of cheesecakes.

The main dining room is elegant and cozy. Every table offers candlelight, to help “draw you in to whomever you’re with,” says Gray. Seating can be rearranged to hold larger parties. Vivid paintings depicting Italian vineyards grace the walls, and soft background music completes the mood.

The Rusty Putter pub comes alive on weeknights and weekends, with musical entertainment and an extensive drink menu, including specialty items like mojitos, martinis and an assortment of wines from Australia, Germany and Italy. The pub features daily food specials, too, including $1 tacos and
$3 margaritas.

“It’s more of a casual pub, where you can come have good conversation, enjoy food and drink without loud, blaring music,” Gray says. “This is not a sports bar where you have to fight your way to the bar.”

Vickie Fogel, Rockford, recently dined at The Rusty Putter for the first time, ordering pork chops sautéed in a bacon mushroom onion sauce. “It was absolutely to die for,” she says. “I love pork chops. It was absolutely perfect – juicy and yummy.” She had just one regret: “I didn’t save room for dessert.”

The Rusty Putter is open for dinner Monday through Saturday. While it’s not open for lunch, the restaurant is available during the day for special functions, and has a private dining room that holds 26 guests.

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