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Jun 24, 2008 05:38 PM

Gran Gusto delights

i got past my love for their pizza and actually had dinner, though we did start with a small margherita as our appetizer. We shared four dishes, for a marvelous dinner, along with a bottle of Masa red that complimented our meal. The margherita was followed by a wonderful salad with arugula and fresh black truffles, then the baby octopus in tomatos and black olives, and finally a light as air risotto pie. The service was charming and attentive, sharing four dishes presented no problem for the waiter, and our only quibble was that one of us found the octopus a tad salty (the other said "more for me!). I've read discussions back and forth on this board re: authenticity and while I've travelled extensively in Italy, I really don't feel qualified to say what is authentic. I can say this place reminds me more of lovely Italian experiences in Umbria, Tuscany, and Emilia Romagna, than any other boston restaurant at the moment. So molto grazie Gran Gusto!

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  1. Yum, yum! It's been about a month since my last visit to GG; sounds like I need to go back soon, as I don't recall seeing any of your dishes (except the pizza) on the menu then.

    1. I agree that the non-pizza items have really come into their own, some now among my favorite Italian dishes in town.

      A recent secondo discovery there: an absolutely superb pan-fried halibut in a saffron, butter, and white wine sauce, served on a bed of garlicky greens. Not only was it delicious, but the bold yellow and green colors made it beautiful to look at as well.

      1. We went last night for the first time. High expectations from the board. Started with a lovely eggplant parm app...thin slices, light sauce. I like thin slices but like them to be a bit crisper/held together. Still very good. The arugula salad was also very good. Then we split a margherita pizza. I don't know what happened, but it was simply awful. Very thin...which I usually like, but this had uneven areas that were so thin they were transparent and fell apart. Also, it had a charred taste but was doughy and uncrisp at the same time. I can't imagine how this'd think that if it got charred it would also get crispy. There was no flavor whatsoever, except for a few blobs of the fresh mozz. So all in all, just a doughy flaverless mess with charring. Yuck! I'd be willing to give them another shot and maybe try the pastas. The service was wonderful and we liked the vibe, but were SOOO disappointed with the pizza.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Science Chick

          After so much praise on these boards we decided to check out Grand Gusto a couple of weeks ago. I really dont think it lives up to the praise it receives on this board.
          The service, was great very friendly very warm..The Pizza was great, not earth shattering great but perfectly cooked, perfectly balanced very flavorful. Someone obviously takes great pride in the pizza they make there.
          We decided to try some of the pasta dishes and wow..bad news...
          The Bolognese tasted like they boiled some ground beef in fresh tomatoes.
          flat flavorless, no richness, no seasoning..I might say the worst Bolognese I have ever had.
          We also tried Pappardelle with Sausage and Mushrooms..
          the teaspoon of dried crumbled sausage tossed with (and I couldnt beleive this)
          pre-sliced mushrooms, for a minute they seemed canned but were actually the sliced mushrooms that come in cases , something no Italian restaurant should use, over undercooked gummy pappardelle might have been even worse. Really disappointing..and I am not usually overly critical I will give a place the benefit of the doubt and call it an off night..but these were truly awful dishes.
          Maybe the pastas are to be avoided,maybe they let the dishwasher cook that night but they were beyond the point of a second try though, if we go again I would stick to the pizza.

          too bad the place seemed promising

          1. re: jvish

            I am still shocked about the pizza...which did you get? What was the taste/texture like? I usually agree wholeheartedly with most of the pizza favorites mentioned here (Reginas, Sweet Tomatoes, Upper Crust, Stellas), so I can't believe that everyone is raving about the pizza, as it was presented to me last night. I guess everyone has an off night??

            1. re: Science Chick

              we had a margherita pizza well done..
              it was cooked perfectly charred but not burnt. a little chewy not tough
              nice sauce, quality mozzarella, could have used a little more basil

              it was a nice it worth going out of the way for?..I don't know..but it was good pizza..everything else was unfortunately awful. If they can produce the type of pasta dishes we had, I would not be surprised they could sometimes be inconsistent with their pizza as well

              1. re: jvish

                Hmmm...maybe we should have ordered well done? Still, they was an overpowering char taste for my liking, so while it might have been crispier I don't know if would have overcome the heavy char flavor. Oh well, chalk one up and move on, I guess...

            2. re: jvish

              I'm surprised to hear these reports. I love the sausage and mushroom pasta, and have never had a pizza like Science Chick describes. I'm heading back next week and will report if the downhill reports jive with my experience.

            3. re: Science Chick

              why didn't you send the pizza back? Sounds like it wasn't just "don't like this take on pizza" but plain bad cooking and presentation. The one we had was thin, crisp, totally unfussy (I hate tons of topping), and without grease, very like the ones we get in italy. Lots of people don't like that take on pizza. But you're describing plain failure! I'd send that back.

            4. Hello,
              Didn't want to start a new thread because there's many on the board about this place already. Went there last night for a 5 person birthday dinner. they did everything perfectly!

              Starters: grilled calamari with mushrooms, eggplant parm, spinach flan with walnuts and gorgonzola cream, beef carpaccio with artichokes and parmesan. All of them were delicious.

              I didn't know that you could get family style orders of their pasta, which was perfect. I don't know the name of this fresh pasta shape, but it's thick like udon but cut into 3 inch pieces. It was served with mussels, calamari, and rock shrimp. the thickness of the noodle made for a terrific bite.

              After that we had tagliatelle with black truffles, with more black truffles shaved on top tableside. I mopped up the rest of the sauce from the serving plate with a piece of bread. You could smell the dish coming from across the room!

              3 of the people we were with were first timers, so they needed to have the pizza. We ordered the prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan and each had a slice. They thought it was the best pizza they've had in a long time.

              For dessert they brought out mini cups of limoncello with a small scoop of chocolate gelato floating in the liquor. It was amazing, and I would have been fine with that...but then 2 slices of the ricotta pie, one slice of tiramisu, and one slice of the caprese cake followed.

              The best thing about this place is that even after a sizeable meal like that you're not uncomfortably full (or maybe we're just huge eaters)

              Service was, of course, impeccable and you'd be hard pressed to find a place that is as entertaining as the the gentlemen here.

              This is my third time to GG, the first time was amazing, the second time so-so (wasn't impressed with the entrees) and this time they knocked it out of the park.

              an equivalent meal anywhere else in boston I feel would have run about $500-600. We had three bottles of wine. It ended up being about $300 for 5 people.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ysb

                Oh hi ysb -- I was there last night too. We were in the dining room last night between 6:30 - 8:30 checking on this downhill alert. My DC and I enjoyed the calamari with mushrooms, the same pasta you had, and a marharita pizza. The only thing I didn't care for was the chew of the pasta -- the handrolled bits were just a little bit al dente for my taste, although they are probably quite authentic. The sauce with shrimp and tomatoes was lovely (ours didn't feature mussels which was a shame -- maybe you only get that when you go family style?). A slice of walnut torte at the end and I was happily stuffed. I didn't notice any drop off in quality and certainly nothing like the poor pizza Science Chick noted. Price is so reasonable for what you get ... I still love Gran Gusto.