Review – Gusto

When news came about that Grill On The Corner’s sister restaurant Gusto was opening in Glasgow, I have to admit, it didn’t excite me in the slightest. This was primarily due to another chain coming to Glasgow, which we’ve seen enough of in the past year! I was asked to go for dinner to review the restaurant a few days after it opened & figured I’d go & see if they could open my eyes.

Whilst Grill On The Corner is all about the steak, Gusto focusses on Italian dishes, with a wide range of pizza & pasta dishes on offer. First glance at the menu & I was pleasantly surprised at the wide range of healthier options in the form of salads & fish dishes. This was music to my ears as I’m currently watching what I eat, even though I’d kill for a big pizza most days!!

I really enjoyed the decor of the restaurant, with its large globe lights & crackled effect walls. It gave the restaurant a 1920s feel to it, without trying hard. This was further enhanced with the water jug & candle holders on the table. The staff were all dressed immaculately in black waistcoats & ties. This gave the restaurant a high end feel to it but the atmosphere is anything but pretentious like you may expect. Instead, the waiting staff are all happy to chat away to you & ensure you’re having a good time.

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For starter, I could not resist ordering the salmon tartare whilst A opted for the deep fried salt cod ravioli (which I had my eye on as well). The salmon tartare was neatly stacked, with a quails egg & creme fraiche accompanying it. The creme fraiche went really well with it, adding a bit of moisture to it. In all honesty, I didn’t know why the quails egg was on the dish. It didn’t add anything to it & it feels like it was just there to pad out the dish, which was required as the salmon was so fresh. With every mouthful, I wanted more. I could have easily eaten another portion of it, it was that good! I tried a bit of the salt cod ravioli & it was crispy on the outside with flaky cod on the inside. A commented that there wasn’t much of a salty taste to it which was expected given the dish’s description.

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After looking at the menu, I had my heart set of the seared tuna steak for dinner. It’s a dish I really enjoy & just can’t get it right at home so wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to have it made properly. However, as it was ordered, the waitress informed me that it had disappeared from her tablet screen, indicating that the last one had been ordered. Although I was really impressed at the technology they were using, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the tuna wasn’t available. On the waitress’ recommendation I opted for the salt baked seabass instead.

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When the mains came, the seabass was a spectacle. It arrived in a large platter, absolutely covered in salt & was prepped by the waiter before being placed on my dish. I chose to have a side of green beans & shallots with my fish. The fish itself was cooked perfectly, with slightly crispy skin & tender, flaky flesh. As the waiter scrapes off most of the salt, there wasn’t much left on the fish at all. The side dish was also a hit, with buttery crunchy green beans & soft grilled shallots. Very moreish! The pasta dish that A ordered I wasn’t too keen on after a taste. It was tagiatelle with prawn & garlic in a sweet chilli tomato sauce. For me, the sauce was too sweet giving it an almost chinese takeaway type taste to it. A, however, enjoyed it, commenting that the only issue for him was that the pasta was a bit soft.

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Gusto’s dessert menu is one of the few that I could actually pick quite a few dishes off it. I think I must be getting a sweet tooth in my old age! The highlight being the nutella & marscapone calzone – who could resist that?! Unfortunately, I had to due to watching what I’m eating. Instead, I chose the strawberry & passion fruit mess whilst A went for the sticky toffee pudding. Alas, it was not to be as I was informed by the waitress that the fruit mess was not available. It was the third strike for us as one of the house beers wasn’t available when A tried to order it. It was quite disappointing given the restaurant had only been open a few days & it’s a chain so they should know what to expect. Either way it was probably a blessing in disguise for me as I was actually quite stuffed from what I had eaten! Naturally I stole a bite of the sticky toffee pudding. The sponge was melt in the mouth soft, with a sweet toffee sauce. I was surprised A didn’t lick the plate in the end!

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Although it was clear that there were some teething problems with Gusto, it did not detract the fact that the dishes we’d eaten had been of a high standard & really delicious. Having seen other diners eating the pizzas, I know we’ll definitely be back so I can have one! Given the recent influx of burger & steak oriented restaurants in Glasgow, it’s nice to have a breath of fresh air being introduced into the Glasgow restaurant scene.

Disclaimer: We were given this meal for free & all views are of my own with no influence from the restaurant or their PR company. The PR company has also asked me to share the restaurant’s twitter account, which you can access at @gustoglasgow

 

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Pizzas @ Vespbar

Those not familiar with Vespbar might not even know it exists as it’s tucked away in one of Glasgow’s many lanes. It sits in Drury Lane, between Renfield & West Nile St. Vespbar prides itself on its authentic Italian Pizzas & availability of prosecco on tap – definitely a first in Glasgow!

I went along one Friday evening to sample some of the pizzas to see what the fuss is about. Inside Vespbar, there is a quirky Italian/American feel to the venue which is split over 3 levels – the main bar area with a surrounding upper mezzanine & a basement where regular comedy shows take place.

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We were taken to our table in the mezzanine & presented with our menus. These were cool as each menu is on the back of an old vinyl – Dean Martin in my case. We were asked for a drinks order but asked if we could see a cocktail menu first as one wasn’t present on our table. After asking three waiters later, we were finally presented with a cocktail menu, from which 2 of us went for one of the prosecco cocktails. I have to admit, the prosecco cocktails we ordered did not go down well. Both were an attempt of reproducing cocktails with the addition of prosecco which did not work. I’d stick to bubbles on their own!

As we had waited a while for the cocktails menu, we didn’t place a food order until around 30 mins after arriving. I decided to go ahead & order one of the pizzas. Another quirky touch Vespbar has is the half metre & metre boards on which pizzas & sharing boards are presented. The table behind us had a half metre pizza which allows 2 pizza choices from the menu & looked like more than enough pizza for 2.

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Our food arrived & the pizza looked like too much too handle as it was huge! I had opted for a pepperoni pizza & was not disappointed with the quantity of topping. The pepperoni also had a nice kick to it as it left a nice spicy afterburn. The pizza itself was not as overfilling as I first thought due to the thin base which also made it prone to falling apart when trying to take a bite! I would say that overall the pizza was nice but I would rather have more cheese. The cheese was limited to a small section on the pizza in the middle, leaving the majority tasting of tomato only. The portion of chips we had were a portion to forget. They arrived soggy & tasteless. They transported me back to memories of childhood meals with homemade chips that had been put in the deep fat fryer. I would definitely not recommend them!

Despite the chips, I do see me going back to Vespbar to try a half metre board (not alone!) but asking for more cheese! Definitely a good place to go for a post work drink & quick munch.

Barolo Grill

Barolo Grill is one of those restaurants that you pass often but never really pay much attention to given its location on Mitchell St, just off Gordon St. We ventured there last week for a belated birthday meal.

Knowing that it’s owned by the same people as Di Maggios & Cafe Andaluz, I wasn’t sure what to expect from here. I had fully expected a bog standard selection of Italian dishes. The menu, however, is pleasantly surprising with a modest selection of pasta dishes, with only one or two you would normally find on a menu in an Italian restaurant. The pizza combinations are a different take on the norm with frutti di mare (seafood) and braised beef with aubergine as a couple of examples.

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On ordering drinks, we went for a bottle of prosecco to celebrate the selling of my house. Priced at £23.95, the cheapest bottle of fizz is a good few quid dearer than most restaurants. Similarly, their house wine is priced at £5.75 for a large glass – not the most reasonable I have came across.

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For starters we had king prawns with limoncello & mussels & clams with white wine & garlic. The amount of mussels & clams in the bowl could feed 2 people for a starter the portion was that massive! The shellfish was cooked perfectly, the clams being sweet & juicy. The king prawns did not twee as expected. Anyone who’s ever drank limoncello will know how tart a taste it is. So when the prawns were lacking in any lemon flavour, it was a bit of a disappointment. I would go as far to say it was more like king prawns with a slightly flavoured mayonnaise.

One thing I liked about Barolo was that you had a decent wait between meals. A lot of restaurants like to get you in & out as fast they can nowadays. I enjoyed the 10-15 minute wait between courses as it gives you a chance to enjoy the experience.

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My main was described as large pillows of pasta which turned out to be their description of ravioli. The pasta itself was really fresh & full of flavour. The menu described it as being filled with meat but there was no meat to be seen anywhere on the plate. Having said that, it was full of flavour & deceptively filling. Al had rigatoni with Tuscan sausage which I wouldn’t normally enjoy as I’m not keen on Italian sausage. This dish changed my opinion. Instead of big chunks of sausage, it was cut up & mixed as part of the sauce so you weren’t really aware you were eating it. Instead it gave the sauce a really meaty flavour & given that there was a lot of sauce, it made a really nice dish.

Barolo may not be the cheapest Italian restaurant in Glasgow but you get what you pay for with dishes full of flavour. They also do a steak night on a Wednesday which starts from £30 for 2 rump steaks with sides & a bottle of wine to share. Definitely something I will go back to try to see if they live up to their name. Similarly, the pizzas I saw people eating were massive & looked like authentic stonebaked pizza. I would say if you’re al