Gusto 101

The new addition to trendy King West in Toronto has finally come to enchant us with its rustic decor, wine on tap for $1/oz and superb Italian inspired dishes with a twist.

Gusto Toronto

Gusto 101

It seems Italian cuisine is taking over King West with places such as Buca, Alimento, Tutti Matti and Scarpetta just minutes walking distance from each other. The good thing is that all of these restaurants have their own unique style and way of cooking; and Gusto 101 certainly does not stay behind offering a variety of pastas, pizzas, salads and Tuscan grilled-style dishes that just make my mouth water as I type.

Having a personal weakness for squid ink pasta for its fantastic taste and texture, my first obvious meal choice was the Tagliolini al Nero.

Gusto Toronto

Tagliolini al Nero

Food made with squid ink is not a culinary delight. It’s an addiction. The intense black color and strong rich taste makes you want to eat this pasta again and again until none is left. One fork full of this black goodness mixed with cuttle fish, oven roasted tomatoes, fresh peas and lemon zest adding some tanginess to it, and you know you’ve just reached culinary addiction.

Gusto Toronto

Tagliolini al Nero

There are two ways of making this pasta, one is from scratch and as part of the pasta dough, the other as part of the sauce. The former being the most complex and rewarding in terms of flavour…so glad Gusto got it right!

And speaking of flavour, if some of you have yet to venture into ravioli, I recommend you do it here. The twist that Gusto has added to its Italian inspired meals is definitely seen through the Ravioli di Zucca.

Gusto Toronto

Ravioli di Zucca

Not sure how the chef came up with the idea of mixing roasted pumpkin, parmigiano cheese and sage brown butter, but I am glad he did! What an exquisite taste. The ravioli pasta is good, I mean we just settled on the fact that their pastas are fantastic, but in this case it’s not so much the pasta as it is the goodness of the ingredients playing in one’s mouth. Yes its buttery and rich, but the sweetness of the pumpkin just comes through so elegantly and discrete, it makes this a superb dish and a must try at Gusto.

I usually do not review salads because after having Lee’s slaw, all other salads were just ruined for me. That said, I was privy to one of my foodie companions (thank you Aileen!) letting me try Gusto’s Insalata di Salmone.

Gusto Toronto

Insalata di Salmone

Who would have thought avocado salsa verde with salmon and greens would go so well? I am not sure if it was the greens or the salad as much as it was the salmon with its crispy skin, giving this whole dish that crunchy feel salads often lack. I gotta say though, if you the take the salmon out of the equation and just have the salmon, the experience might not be as good. The salmon was medium-rare, as salmon should be in salads, and the choice of ingredients added to its flavour just as much. There is a way, I believe, in which salmon can be made just for salads, and Gusto was definitely able to nail it.
Now on to my second favourite part of the meal (first was obviously my black pasta), Gusto’s wine on tap for just $1/oz.
Gusto Toronto

Wine on tap

I was extremely hesitant to try wine on tap, but was quickly convinced by the price. Depending on the day you go, Gusto offers different kinds on tap. That night we were offered a lovely Pinot Grigio and a Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon. Let’s just say, I ended up getting 10oz of the Pinot Grigio. What a deal and a great pairing to my meal. 

Finally on to desserts…Tiramisu and Chocolate Creme with salted caramel.

Gusto Toronto

Tiramisu and Chocolate Creme with salted caramel

The Tiramisu was nothing worth mentioning, it was very light and tasty but nothing that will blow your mind away. The Chocolate Creme on the other hand was a hit. The salted caramel balanced off the sweetness from the chocolate quite nicely. Our waiter told us to mix the dessert well as it was drizzled with some olive oil…say what? Oh yeah, the idea was to get all flavours working before your spoon went in, and so we did. Needless to say, that little glass cup was wiped clean by the time I was done.

Note to reader: My only complaint about Gusto is that in an effort to sit as many people as possible in a small space, it has forgotten about their customers’ comfort. Luckily for you, if you are seated by the wall/mirror, you wont be as bothered; on the other hand if you are seated in any of the centre tables running across the restaurant, and you are party of 4, you better pray the wait staff has been trained to maneuver around you. It’s almost impossible for people to pass by. We were one of the unlucky ones and thankfully prior to the restaurant getting busy, we were accommodated in another table as my party kept getting their heads pumped by waiters and other customers passing by. This is something owner Janet Zuccarini should be aware of and address immediately before numerous free meals are given away due to these inconveniences.

Until next time Foodies!

Buen Provecho,
Foodies Inked.

Dining Experience: Lunch and Dinner
Venue: Gusto 101
Location: 101 Portland Street, Toronto, ON
Menu items: Tagliolini al Nero, Ravioli di Zucca, Insalata di Salmone and Desserts accompanied with wine on tap


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