'Gusto 28 - report
Been in Rome for a few days, and went to our first recommended restaurant, 'Gusto 28 in Piazza Augusto Imperatore. It is a modern seafood and vegetarian restaurant, comparable in price and type of food to somewhere like Drago in Los Angeles.
We had the fried anchovies, the pacherri (kind of like a larger homemade rigatoni) with tomato and eggplant, the pacherri with artichoke hearts and mussels, the salt cod in a tomato broth, and the fried fish. All were excellent, and the first meal we've had here that we could not get in L.A. The pacherri and salt cod were particularly good. Although we did not have the whole branzino, it was prepared next to our table for two other parties, and it looked excellent (we woul probably order it if we went back)
One random note though. I had heard that portion sizes were smaller here in Europe, but I have not found it to be so. The size is consistent with what one would find at a similar restaurant in L.A (as opposed to someplace like Osteria Mozza, where the primi are very small). I have no idea how people manage to eat a primi and a secondi without getting huge.
Also, even with the euro (1.58 right now), the prices seem more or less in line with Los Angeles, a bit less than NY, and more than Chicago.
Portions ARE usually smaller, though I've noticed some upward creep at the high end, possibly due to international influence or because people want fewer courses. It's just an impression.
I have never been a fan of the Gusto empire, but haven't dined at this newest entry. I did have tea there last summer with a friend -- we were going to the Ara Pacis and had missed lunch and were dying for tea and a sandwich, and there it was, brand new. Unfortunately the sandwiches were pretty awful and the whole experience a downer. Clearly dinner is different.
I have never been to L.A. but would have guessed Gusto would be on that wavelength. I'm consumed with curiosity to know where you ate that you thought you could get the same there as here. The newer places are certainly getting very international, but the traditional stuff would be hard to duplicate.
I went to look at Frommers.com, and nothing listed as near via Veneto or Spanish Steps is remotely representative, with the possible exception of Enoteca Corsi, which, however, isn't all that good. I will go out on a limb and say that nothing in Rome that can remind you of L.A. is representative -- yet.