Much good food has been consumed over the last few weeks and I owe you a bunch of reviews. Now that I finally have a minute to catch my breath, heres the skinny! Lets start with Gusto (pun unintended)!
Gusto is a lovely Italian place on Alexander, right next to the Toad and across from Bamba Bistro. Housed in the gorgeous Medical Arts building, I've driven past/walked by Gusto often, making mental notes to stop by. Look at that picture below), you will start to appreciate my will power! Its almost impossible to resist the temptation to step into this charmingly stylish cafe. The interior is full of vibrant colors and interesting little tchotchkes. The high ceilings and windows make all the difference. I like the layout - there isn't a bad table in the house. You could sit facing the other diners or you could be looking out the window. Alexander Street is a good place for people watching - so its a win-win situation!
My inner cautious-ness led me to suggest Gusto for lunch. When I'm trying a new place, I usually head there for lunch. Most places are less crowded and less pretentious over lunch! I had one of their daily specials: Baked Acorn Squash with Parmesan Risotto, served with a Baby Spinach Salad. It was very good. The portions were perfectly sized. The acorn squash was cooked to perfection, soft, golden and fragrant without going overboard on the butter. The parmesan was fresh and not greasy. Both these features earns Gusto many points in my book. Too often, restaurants try to over-compensate for lack of flavor by slathering food in butter and/or olive oil. The salad was extraordinarily simple - baby spinach and little shavings of parmesan. Every leaf was fresh and crisp, the cheese was creamy and tart, not overly salty. My dining partner (my boss!) tried the Chicken Pastina soup and the Italian sausage panini. Both were fresh and flavorful.
All in all, its the kind of place that you could go to with your co-workers for lunch in the middle of a weekday. Reasonably priced, flavorful food with enough choices to please everyone. Our waitress (who was, incidentally, unusually chatty but not in a creepy way) pointed out that its also a popular date place, especially in the evenings. I could see why - the interesting-looking chandelier and sumptuous curtains somehow set the right mood: casual yet intimate. There you have it - Gusto has my blessing! Go try it!
Gusto on the web:
1. Reviews on RocWiki
2. Official Gusto website