Gusto is in the lovely Medical Arts Building on Alexander. It serves reasonably priced, homey Italian food in a cute, bistro-like setting. We sat in the window, which let us watch the night begin to fall.
My husband met us there and was running late, and we were STARVING--so the kids and I ordered the bruschetta. I know it's a tired starter, but I love it, who doesn't want to eat tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil and toasty bread. If such a person is out there, don't join our table. Gusto includes some solid chunks of mozzarella on theirs, which is presented well on a bread board, sprinkled with parmesan. Super beginning!
I also ordered the small Mista salad--basic dinner salad with solid mixed greens base, chick peas, tomatoes, great red onions, more mozzarella, and homemade vinaigrette. I nixed the black olives, ugh. Very fresh.
The kids ordered gnocchi with meat sauce (her) and individual pepperoni pizza (him). The gnocchi were lovely and plump with a dense meat sauce that balanced them nicely. The "spicy" (their description) pepperoni pizza was on a deliciously crisp crust with a great sauce, rich cheese, a sprinkling of basil, and the perfect proportion of pepperoni--which didn't seem particularly spicy to us. Both were big hits! We took home half the gnocchi, after my husband and I sampled it liberally. So, the portions were great. The boy ate 3 of his 4 pizza slices, a true sign of success.
My husband ordered the half soup/half panini combo. His soup was a creamy tomato basil; it was less creamy than I would have anticipated and might have been too little for a dinner--even with the panini--were it not for the surfeit of gnocchi. Having said that, though, the soup was quite good; it had a nice bright taste that also had a smoky note, filled with chunks of tomato. He got the prosciutto panini on whole grain bread. I didn't try this one. Well-smoked prosciutto, deliciously cripy, and a perfect sandwich to dunk in the soup is his description.
I ordered spaghetti with marinara and meatballs. The spaghetti was perfectly cooked and topped with a dense, bright, chunky marinara and 2 ice cream scoop-sized meatballs. The meatballs were just right--easily broken up with a fork and just the right consistency (not tough, not bready, not heavy). I also took home about half of mine.
We left room for dessert. My daughter, aka the queen of carrot cake, selected her favorite, which is made by Cheesy Eddies. No big surprise--it was ridiculously good. The boys ordered a mocha cream/chocolate sponge cake dessert that came out looking like a dip cone on a plate. Neither dessert made it out alive!
With various soft drinks and one coffee, we walked out the door having spent $71 plus tip for appetizers, dinner, and dessert for 4 (service was great; our server reminded me of Amy Adams, but I couldn't get anyone else to agree). We also left with enough food for two lunches and a cold pizza breakfast.
Gusto definitely deserves a place on our ROCkin' Restaurants list!