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Mucho ‘Gusto: Wine & Cheese with Style

10 Sep

Hard to believe it’s been over a year on the blog and I haven’t given you the scoop on ‘Gusto. Probably because it’s a little pricey, so I don’t go there all that often. Lately I’ve met a friend of mine a couple times there for lunch, as she works nearby. It’s definitely worth a stop when you’re in Rome, and chances are at one point or another you’ll be in the area since it’s close to Via del Corso (big shopping street) and Piazza del Popolo.

‘Gusto takes up pretty much an entire block, actually more than that, and is made up of a restaurant, pizzeria, winebar, enoteca (wine shop), kitchen/book store, osteria, and formaggeria (cheese shop). There are 1,000 wine labels to choose from and 400 cheeses (availability depends on the season and producer). The decor is decidedly “molto trendy” and one of my favorite things in the osteria is what I like to call the “red light district.” There’s a certain set of tables with special lamps that have red lights on top. When you want to call a waiter over, you just turn on the red light.

Like I said, even in the osteria (which would tend to denote a more home-style cooking and therefore more reasonable prices) the dishes are a bit steep, but for a treat every once in a while they are wonderful. Last time I was there with Ale and a friend of ours, he ordered a pasta with octopus:

Octopus pasta

and my friend and I both got the “millefoglie di verdure” — a sort of layered lasagne made with mozzarella, parmesan and thin strips of vegetables ranging from eggplant to zucchini to bell peppers:

However, the check came to about €75 (we also had a small appetizer divided among the three of us, a 1/2 liter of house white wine and two 1-liter bottles of water). So, see what I’m saying? For lunch, it’s not exactly the cheapest option in town.

The cheese plates are simply heavenly and they come with a nice selection of fruit compotes and honey. There’s a great little “cheese room” which the photo below simply doesn’t do justice. It’s kind of hard to photograph in its full glory without disturbing too many diners (since there are tables all around the glass enclosure), so I took this shot from the outside. But you really have to see it for yourself.

I didn’t have time to check out the kitchen shop. The last time I went to ‘Gusto, the osteria was still known as Osteria della Frezza (because it’s on Via della Frezza) and the kitchen shop and book store was a small installation inside. Now it has its own space around the block in Piazza Augusto Imperatore. I’m betting it’s a good place to pick up a classy souvenir for a foodie friend.

So, you can now add ‘Gusto to your list of unique dining experiences in Rome. I think there’s something for everyone on the menu and it has an upscale, metropolitan feel. Maybe you can stop in to take a load off after your shopping spree on Via Condotti.

‘Gusto
Osteria and Formaggeria: Via della Frezza 16, Via della Corea 2
Ristorante, Pizzeria, Winebar, Wine shop, Kitchen shop: Piazza Augusto Imperatore 7-9

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21 Responses to “Mucho ‘Gusto: Wine & Cheese with Style”

  1. jessica in rome September 10, 2007 at 11:37 am #

    I’ll definitely try it! Did you experience the craziness that was white night?

  2. nyc/caribbean ragazza September 10, 2007 at 11:49 am #

    shelley, ‘gusto holds a special place in my heart. lol. I make sure I stop by during every trip to Rome. I have only eaten at the Osteria side though.

    I love the cookware store but on the last trip I avoided it. I coudn’t break my budget.

  3. Giulia September 10, 2007 at 11:50 am #

    €75 for lunch?! Holy cr*p!!! That’s like two days worth of work for the average Italian. Sounds like a place that takes advantage of it’s location. Great for them…bad for the consumer!

  4. Shelley, At Home in Rome September 10, 2007 at 11:53 am #

    Jessica: Girl, after what is it now, four years that they’ve been doing the Notte Bianca… I know better. We left town for the weekend! I couldn’t believe that this year they made it two nights instead of just one. We live in the center so it keeps us up all night. We are such Scrooges, I know. But we did participate the first year, when there was a huge blackout.

    NYC: I know, it’s a great place. I’m a bit nervous to go into the kitchen store because I think it would be impossible to walk out empty handed.

    Giulia: I know, €25 per person is steep for lunch. Nowadays that’s normal for dinner but I’d say the average restaurant lunch is still hanging out around €15.

  5. sognatrice September 10, 2007 at 1:06 pm #

    Um, is that grated cheese on the octopus? Please tell me that was personal choice, which I can respect, and not served that way, which I can’t 😉

    Looks like a fun place!

  6. kataroma September 10, 2007 at 1:58 pm #

    All I can say is avoid going to Gusto for a weekend “brunch”, whatever you do. It’s really, really expensive and just bad. Maybe they should just stick to standard Italian fare.

    I went there recently and the “brunch” was basically a bog standard, nothing special antipasto plus cold pancakes with fake maple syrup. And I ended up paying something 20 euro for it! There were no brunch drinks (no bloody marys, no mimosas not even fresh squeezed OJ) and they couldn’t even be bothered setting up a bain marie so they just put all the cooked pancakes in a big dish where they got cold before people ate them.

    So, I guess I’ll continue to eat my brunches at home….

  7. gillian September 10, 2007 at 3:07 pm #

    the new addition to gusto dynasty is the cocktail bar on the other side of the square…toooo chic (check out the artwork inside), with delicious fritti and a charming staff…i had lunch in june that was delicious…black rice salad with asparagus and my friend had couscous and shrimp…a nice alternative to classic italian…they have bar and table prices for drinks…next on my list to try is a double espresso with star anice…

  8. Shelley, At Home in Rome September 10, 2007 at 5:55 pm #

    Sognatrice: Nope, the picture is exactly as the dish was served, cheese wasn’t added as personal choice.

    Kataroma: This seems to be the general rule for most restaurant brunches in Rome; I’ve heard from everyone who’s ever tried one that they are overpriced and pitiful. The idea of a bunch of pancakes lumped together sounds awful!

    Gillian: On the osteria side we had a fritto misto appetizer that was a bit overpriced (€10) but really delicious… they have this fried ricotta that is really incredible and fried mozzarella which I love!

  9. sognatrice September 10, 2007 at 6:05 pm #

    About the cheese on the octopus–wow. That’s kind of a cardinal sin at least around these parts (cheese on seafood). Even putting it in seafood risotto is frowned upon. Note to self: don’t order the octopus at ‘Gusto so as not to upset my OH!

    Now Kataroma has me hungry for some pancakes….

  10. lisa September 11, 2007 at 12:37 am #

    Ciao! Thanks for coming back from vaca! I love your blog this resturant looks like a must in rome! 🙂

  11. Jul September 11, 2007 at 12:45 am #

    Yummy!!!

  12. somepinkflowers September 11, 2007 at 4:46 am #

    that great mural on the wall
    is worth paying extra for the food,
    don’t you think?

    plus,
    you don’t have to spend airfare to get there
    so straight away
    you are getting a bargain.

    🙂

    i am with sognatrice,
    we have no cheese on the fish here…
    still,
    it all looks yummy.

  13. Shelley, At Home in Rome September 11, 2007 at 9:05 am #

    Apparently putting pecorino on seafood pasta is accepted around here. The cardinal sin regarding cheese and pasta in Rome would be putting parmigiano on penne arrabbiata.

  14. Gil September 11, 2007 at 9:18 am #

    A few years ago my wife and I were in a small restaurant outside of Ravenna and I asked for cheese to put on my pasta and calamari. The waiter told me that in Italy you do not put cheese on fish dishes and if I really wanted cheese he pointed to the table where the cheese was stored. I added some more pepper and finished my meal. My darling wife told me I should have know better than to ask. I can’t wait to show her and our daughter that picture.

  15. Kataroma September 11, 2007 at 9:20 am #

    Shelley – I’ve been yelled at by various Romans for putting cheese on seafood dishes. So (at least for some people) it’s a sin here too. I guess Gusto was just being provocative with their cheese on seafood combo?

  16. Shelley, At Home in Rome September 11, 2007 at 9:50 am #

    Really, about the cheese on seafood, I have no idea. I’m definitely no expert. I always roll my eyes at these “food sins” — I think they’re silly. If you like the way something tastes on food, eat it. Who cares. I asked Ale and he told me that he’s heard of pecorino on polipo (octopus) and it didn’t seem weird to him. So — BOH. I asked for parmigiano on the pasta arrabbiata when I had first moved here and got the raised eyebrow from the waiter. And I’ve seen it happen to other expats and foreigner friends of mine since then. But, so. Some of my Italian friends think maple syrup goes on bread for sandwiches and that caesar salad dressing is milk poured over salad and therefore unthinkably weird (the only dressing you generally see on salads here is vinegar and oil). Most restaurants here offer cappuccino after dinner to foreigners because they know it’s accepted outside of Italy, even though most Italians I know wouldn’t dream of drinking a cappuccino after dinner.

    I say, liberty for condiment choices! LOL.

  17. sognatrice September 11, 2007 at 10:26 am #

    Wow, I certainly didn’t mean to start a minor battle over the cheese! As I said previously, I’m all for personal choice–I was just surprised a restaurant would serve it that way in Italy (as opposed to cheese on the side). As you said Shelley, there are certain “food sins” here….

    I’ll take one of those 1000 bottles of vino now thanks 😉

  18. Kataroma September 11, 2007 at 2:47 pm #

    Oh yeah, me too. Just because an Italian friend gave me a hard time for putting cheese on seafood doesn’t mean it’s right. 🙂 I like cheese on seafood (or pasta arrabiata for that matter.) And I drink milky coffee at all times of the day. I’m a foreigner and I’m PROUD!

    IMO the food rules were invented so that some peole could feel superior and others could be excluded.

  19. Shelley, At Home in Rome September 11, 2007 at 3:34 pm #

    So funny! I can’t keep up with all the food “rules” — I’m sure they were originally based in some kind of culinary logic! I tend to follow them just to avoid the fallout! You know, to steer clear of the whole “ha ha, look at that silly foreigner who doesn’t know how to properly eat her food.” I’m still a sucker for blending in.

    Another one I just thought of, when my dad came to visit and asked if we could get some butter for the bread. Major faux pas? I’ve only seen that in hotel restaurants or fancy places where lots of tourists might eat. I was embarrassed to ask and doubted they’d have it. Luckily he didn’t ask for his regular huge glass of milk with dinner. LOL!

    Also sometimes I hear Americans asking for tap water instead of bottled (“acqua del rubinetto, per favore”). Even though Rome’s tap water is supposed to be some of the best-tasting in all of Italy, just try to separate an Italian from his or her bottle of mineral water at the table. Tap water in a restaurant? Unheard of!

    And shall we go back to the never-ending debate about ice or no ice?

    Ah, this could go on forever…

  20. Kit September 12, 2007 at 5:07 pm #

    It sounds like a food Conran Shop of Rome. Makes me realise how long it was since I was in Rome …mind you the cheese and cappucino debates sound the same! I’m salivating madly over the food pictures though and would love a taste of that millefoglie di verdure.

  21. Lau September 14, 2007 at 12:03 pm #

    Hi Shelley, I used to go to Gusto all the time, for lunch and drinks at night. For lunch, try the Gusto next to their store, where they offer a lunch buffet for 9 euros, with a drink, with cold and hot dishes, which offers a great selection of dishes… !!

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