It was a warm and sublime summer’s night as we strolled through the city and found ourselves in the cosy confines of a restaurant foyer. No, this isn’t a Mills & Boon tale of romance, but it might as well have been. Because this is the time that I fell in love with a restaurant.

I was in town for the Bolton Food Festival, which is always a crazy busy gig. It’s usually pointless booking anything due to over-runs, which is why we found ourselves sans reservation on a Saturday night.  We were wandering down Deansgate when we spied the interesting exterior of Gusto.

untitled (3) Thankfully the kind concierge showed compassion and we soon found ourselves seated at the bar ordering drinks whilst a table was being vacated. First off, Gusto is housed in an imposing, striking building that you can’t help but covet. It has that dark romanticism about it and you can almost imagine an imposing 19th century count floating around eyeing up your expertly made drinks. I had the Classic Bellini (white peach purée and crème de peche stirred with Prosecco), whilst The Dude had a Dirty Martini. Both were nice and refreshing, the perfect start to our meal. We were led to our seats, which oozed comfortable luxe and immediately felt at home due to the warm welcome.

As I glanced around the restaurant, I noted the wide appeal of Gusto’s by its diverse clientele. There were coy couples enjoying date night (aaaah, how sweet), families celebrating special occasions and gaggles of girlfriends catching up. It was a nice buzz and I couldn’t help but feel heartened, as if one has just been hugged by a big ole’ friendly bear.

Gusto_Dough Petals

We kicked off with the Gusto Dough Petals which came with garlic butter. Each mouthful was deliciously herby and the dough a delightful mix that felt like the love-child of stretchy ciabatta and flaky pastry. I could have happily stocked up on the starter, but the best was yet to come. I ordered the smoked salmon and dill rigatoni (tossed with cream, peas, spinach and finished with fresh lemon). What I like about Gusto is that it offers mains as side dishes. Plus I’m trying to exercise portion control and because I get full up so quickly, it’s great to taste mains without having to waste half of the dish.

Gusto_Smoked Salmon & Dill 

I loved my rigatoni. Unctuous and velvety, the rigatoni was a pleasure to eat and would make an excellent hearty dish on a chilly winter’s day. The Dude had Griffin Pizza (roast chicken, pepperoni, sliced green chilli, roasted red onion and mozzarella), which went down very well. The thin crust was delicious in its stone-baked, floury, fresh glory, whilst the roast chicken topping perfectly seasoned.

Gusto_Griffin Pizza 

The service throughout the night was superb. Gusto really know how to make their clientele feel special. Hat-tip to the Gusto team, who care about customers, their food and creating a wonderful ambience that is difficult to replicate. We didn’t have room for dessert (blasphemy I know) but I cannot wait to check it out again next time. Because there will be a next time, of that, I am sure. In the words of Arnie, “I’ll be back!”

 

Dirty Martini £10.00, Classic Bellini £7.50, Gusto dough Petals £3.50, Griffin Pizza £10.75, Smoked salmon and dill rigatoni £6.75

Bill Total: £38.50

Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I hate it, I’d rather eat my own shoe” to 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)

Food: 9

Value for money: 8

Ambience: 10

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