Anoushka Monzon Ladas and Christina Giallombardo
Gusto is a distinguished Italian chain restaurant that has multiple restaurants around the North West and East and has recently opened a branch in Nottingham city centre. The menu changes every three months and is inspired by traditional Italian recipes whilst incorporating a modern twist. Gusto is definitely not the most student friendly restaurant as the prices are more on the expensive side of dining. Nevertheless, this makes it the perfect restaurant to visit for a special occasion.
When you walk into Gusto, you are greeted by its modern interiors’ fusion with elements of rustic charm. The hosts and waiters are very friendly and cater to everyone’s needs. The restaurant takes allergies and dietary requirements very seriously and if you mention having some to your waiter, they will take care to inform you about what you can eat on the menu. The menu is very inclusive as it caters to all dietary requirements, having both vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options available.
To start with, I had the Christmas Pornstar Martini which was delicious, so much so I would say I possibly preferred it to a standard martini. Instead of passionfruit being the main ingredient, the Christmas version uses blackberry and cinnamon to create a unique festive concoction. Following that, we tasted the chef’s favourites which are usually available on the A La Carte menu. To nibble on we had the Gusto Dough petals which were two petal shaped rolls of bread filled with cheese that you could dip in garlic butter. These came out at the perfect temperature as they were not too hot but also not too cold so that the cheese in the middle was hard.
Whilst these were good, they were personally not anything special in comparison to the Bruschetta. The Bruschetta was the perfect starter as the tomatoes were perfectly ripened alongside the garlic not being overpowering. However, it was the main dish of Honey-Glazed Duck & Balsamic that was the truly phenomenal part of the overall meal. The duck was cooked perfectly so it was tender and not chewy as well as the mash having a creamy texture. Perhaps the best thing about this dish was the sauce which was a rich balsamic and red wine jus. The portion size was generous but on the smaller side which was fine as I had two starters which gave me room for dessert – I opted for the Tiramisu which had a good balance between coffee and cream.
Overall, I was very pleased with my experience and will definitely be going back to Gusto as a birthday treat so as to not entirely damage my bank account.
To start with I had an orange based mocktail, and although it was on the bitter side, I still enjoyed it. For my main meal I had the Roasted Vegetable Orzotto which was absolutely delicious. It was my first time trying an orzotto and it didn’t disappoint! Artichokes are one of my favourite vegetables, and it added so much flavour to the dish. The sweet potato flakes on top added a crispy and sweet touch to the meal.
Normally vegan cheese doesn’t come close to dairy cheese, but I couldn’t even tell this was vegan!
For my dessert I decided to try the Vegan Biscoff Cheesecake. I don’t normally like cheesecake but this was absolutely delicious. Normally vegan cheese doesn’t come close to dairy cheese, but I couldn’t even tell this was vegan! It had a biscoff base and flakes of biscoff crumbs that complemented the cheesecake flavour well.
Gusto prides itself on being elegantly Italian, and in comparison to other Italian chain restaurants, it’s more authentic. However, there are some dishes that stray away from its Italian inspiration. The Caponata is made with cream which is an anglicised version of the dish, as the original is made using egg yolks and pasta water which is stirred until it becomes creamy. It’s also made using Guanciale, but pancetta (which Gusto uses) is a good substitute. They also serve a Gusto’s Classic Burger which is more of an American-Italian fusion.
They also offer a pizza experience which we didn’t get a chance to experience. In this experience you get: a seat at the chef’s table, either a Prosecco or Aperol Spritz on arrival, antipasti board and gusto dough petals to share, learn how to make a 10” pizza, make your own Cannolis for dessert and a prize for the best pizza in the group. It’s £45 per person which is a hefty price tag, but considering the food you get and the experience as a whole it’s not too bad. Like the rest of Gusto’s menu though it wasn’t for those on a budget.
To save some money you can join Gusto’s gold rewards which will give you a lot of offers for money off or deals. It’s definitely worth signing up to if you plan on visiting! Overall Gusto’s was a great experience with amazing service and food. I would definitely go for a special occasion like a 21st birthday or graduation, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for a meal due to the price.
Anoushka Monzon Ladas and Christina Giallombardo
All images courtesy of Anoushka Monzon and Christina Giallombardo. Permission for use granted to Impact.
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