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Has anyone been yet? I've seen a few reviews on Yelp and their lot seems full when I drive by in the evenings.

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  1. I went yesterday, and sat at the bar. Ordered the meatballs as an appetizer, they were tasty enough. Had the grilled flatiron as the main course, which was cooked as ordered and tasty. The sprouts were too undercooked for my personal liking, and chef swung by to say he'd cook them through in the future. All of the staff but two (I was told) are from the previous restaurant, so service was good. The owner (not the previous owner) was on point in the restaurant and the kitchen, taking an active role in the delivery of food and table setup. All in all, pretty good. I'll swing back by in a week or three and check out some of the pasta dishes.

    1. I went on Friday, after work to meet a friend. I was there by 5:30 and was able to find a parking spot easily. I ordered the olives and the calamari. The olives were great; not too salty, more fruity. I like them that way. The calamari was very tangy. It had thin friend onion rings and very thin slices of lemon that were fried as well. The dipping sauce was lemon based. I prefer my calamari more spicy, but this wasn't too bad. It was a bit greasy toward the bottom of the basket.

      There was an older crowd from the neighborhood (early 40s - late 50's I'd say) and a few families. Same staff as the other place. the decor is similar as well except for the new stencil, spray paint art on the walls. I believe they were playing records - a la Justine's.

      This place is good for a weekend that you don't feel like making the scene or searching for a parking spot downtown. Seems consistent with options and prices. Won't knock your socks off but a good place in the hood to hang out.

      1. Where is this restaurant and what was the previous restaurant if I may ask?

        11 Replies
        1. re: danny_w

          La Sombra was the previous restaurant. Same owners, new concept. Was Brazilian (South American), now italian bistro.

          1. re: chispa_c

            The Chef, however, is from Peru, which is intriguing.

            1. re: TAF

              Is it the people from the Sampaio days? That restaurant did a good job of acting like a Brazilian restaurant, but not actually serving Brazilian food.

              1. re: rudeboy

                It's the same guy/group that owns Santa Rita, 34th Street Cafe and I think Blue Star too.

                1. re: rudeboy

                  I was not familiar enough with Sampaio to determine whether any of the staff are currently involved with Gusto, however I did have a Pasta Carbonara there which did not seem very traditional to me. Seemed not to have much cream, nor parmesan, but would have been tasty enough were it not heavily oversalted.

                  1. re: TAF

                    There are volumes of arguments on home cooking regarding what makes a true carbonara. Some people say that the addition of peas is blasphemous. What is the meat product in Gusto's version? Lardons? Is the pasta dried/boiled, or fresh?

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      Traditionaly carbonara doesn't have cream. I believe they use bacon and pecorino.

                      1. re: rhubarb

                        I would think that traditionally they would use pancetta.

                    2. re: TAF

                      there is absolutely no cream in the carbonara, lardons of applewood smoked bacon was used at first but it has been changed to a more traditional pancetta.

                      1. re: ac3jc

                        Sounds good - I'll have to try it. I love carbonara. Not sure why many restaurants don't use guanciale and bucatini pasta. Good farm fresh eggs can really make the dish.

                        1. re: rudeboy

                          we use farm fresh eggs for the carbonara, guanciale is more expensive and not as traditional as pancetta and bucatini is a hard pasta to get believe it or not, also not traditional but still good.

            2. Had the polenta fries and meatball appetizers; both very good. bf had the pork shank with polenta and kale. The flavor was excellent, it was fork tender.

              1. Yesterday I had the mushroom pizza, which was quite good - tasty, fairly thin, airy crust, easily large enough for one person. Also tried the pappardelle bolognaise - the sauce was excellent. No salt issues this time around.

                1 Reply
                1. re: TAF

                  Went last night with a party that included a person that is disabled. They were very accommodating and the food was very good. Like TAF, I had the pappardelle bolognaise. I enjoyed it. The pasta was cooked perfectly and the sauce was excellent. My only complaint is the size of the print on the menu. With the low lighting in the restaurant and the small print, everyone at the table had some difficulty.

                2. For me at least, the jury is still out on Gusto. I live around the corner, so stop in quite frequently, later in the evening, for a plate of pasta and glass of red at the bar - a positive experience, especially given the experienced bar staff who came from La Sombra.

                  Yesterday, however, I stopped in with five guests, and the experience was quite different. I think catering for groups is really where Gusto falls apart. I'll start with the service, which was lousy. It being a small place, we eventually determined that the server liked to hang out in the kitchen, emerging only as necessary to service a specific table, ignoring the waving and signaling from other tables (not just ours). At one point he even rushed past our table with a "how is everything folks?", not slowing down to hear a response.

                  Which was a shame, but everything was not okay. Every dish on the table (everything except the striped bass special) was heavily oversalted ... again. The kitchen staff have not lost their love affair with salt, I can tell you. One of the steak specials was a cut so fatty it was embarrassing, and the other was served cold - had been sitting around for quite a while before being served. We only found out later - when they unabashedly served us our check in full - that these steaks were $28 each. Wow. I can do better than that in my own backyard, which really sums up why I won't be recommending Gusto to anyone else at this time. Hopefully they will read these reviews and make the necessary changes.

                  We'd all love a successful Italian eatery in our hood, but not when you drop three figures for sub-par food and service.

                  1. I just want to add my enthusiasm for those polenta fries. Tried Gusto last weekend (Friday), was told there would be a 45 minute wait, had one drink at the bar, and was seated within 20 minutes. But back to the fries. They were piping hot and crisp, with that delicious creamy/grainy interior texture that you want from polenta, sprinkled with salt, herbs, and shredded parm, and served with a tasty (creamy pomodoro?) sauce. Happiness. I wanted a vegetarian entree, so I asked my server whether I should go for the spinach/3cheese lasagne or the rigatoni arrabbiatta. I let her know I was pretty hungry. She suggested the rigatoni. My entree was fine (I ate it all), but it was certainly not "arrabbiata," and was definitely something I could have made at home. Chunky marinara sauce, a few cubes of melting buffalo mozz (strangely, these were underneath everything, not mixed it) and a few chunks of roasted eggplant. I loaded it with parm and crushed red pepper from the table and left feeling full, but next time I'm going for something else. My partner was crazy over the braised pork shank, though. Wouldn't shut up about how good it was (and it looked good, swimming in a brown wine-laced gravy on a pile of polenta that looked for all the world like smooth pureed potatoes). Take from that what you will. And remember that you have to *ask* for the free bread/oil; they don't just bring it to you!

                    1. yelp reviews seem very spotty on this place so i might try it for lunch.

                      1. A friend and I probably ate lunch at La Sombra once a week for the last year or more. I liked what I got; particularly the unusual soups. Since I am unfamiliar with Brazilian cuisine, I have not idea to what extent it was "authentic". So, we were sorry when they closed and tepid when it was announced that the owners were opening YAIP(yet another Italian place). So much so that we did not try it until last week.

                        Our impression: OK but unimpressive. Bear in mind that it was lunch and so dinner may be better. The salads were so-so. I'll give them points for remembering the anchovies in the Caesar dressing, but little else. My sandwich was less interesting than those from La Sombra and the soups were also less interesting.

                        The service was good, as we have always found it to be at lunch. The upshot is that we will probably give it a pass unless there is some limiting issue that drives us there. (all of our regulars are struck by a plague or the like)

                        FWIW, I've given up reading YELP reviews of just about anything food-related. I don't find most of them to be knowledgeable, reliable, or often, even intelligible.

                        1. I had the misfortune of dining at Gusto last week. To keep this brief: I was served RAW chicken, only half of the cost of which was comped, the owner was unappologetic and unconcerned and frankly a major ass. With food and management like this, this place should fail.