GUSTO is the newest member of Leamington’s ever-expanding range of eateries – and it’s a very welcome one.
The chain has established an enviable reputation in the north of England and Scotland, and have chosen Leamington’s Regent Court for its first Midlands restaurant. It is sure to be the first of many in the region.
Gusto takes its inspiration from the traditional grand cafes of Europe, but grand does not mean stuffy. The Leamington restaurant is stylish, with a relaxed atmosphere. There are a number of comfy booths together with standard table and chairs, all within sight of the open kitchen. The staff are knowledgable and attentive, but importantly not overbearing.
Gusto is of course a restaurant, and restaurants are all about food and drink. Gusto’s ethos appears simple – classic and contemporary Italian cuisine using simple fresh ingredients, well-cooked, and well-presented. It sounds simple. It is. Then why do so many other restaurants get it so wrong?
We started with a cocktail while perusing the menu – a Kiwi Spritz and a Cucumber and Elderflower Martini. Both wonderfully refreshing. The menu demands time. It’s extensive from meats and fish dishes to pasta and pizzas.
We stayed Italian on the wine, opting for a smooth easy-drinking red, a Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, from a carefully selected and unpretentious wine list selected from around the world.
The Tiger Prawns, in a creamy garlic and tomato sauce, served with grilled ciabatta, was an immediate winner with us, and is sure to prove a very popular starter. Most of the spaghetti and risotto dishes are available as both starter and main. The Grana Padano Risotto starter with wild mushrooms and pachetta, finished with truffle butter, is a rich, indulgent treat which almost makes one want to order it immediately again as a main.
And talking of main, after much deliberating, it was chargrilled tuna, with peperonata (a southern Italian blend of sweet bell peppers, onion and olive oil), spinach leaves and a tomato and caper dressing, and the Roast Lamb Rump, with truffle cheese flavoured piccolo ravioli and tomato sauce. Both surf and turf were cooked to absolute perfection. We shared a few sides – a Tenderstem Broccoli, with red chilli and almonds – which was a little too al dente for our taste – Garlic Roasted Vine Tomatoes, and Polenta Chips.
The proportions are generous, but it would have been a crime not to find room for the Gusto Tiramisu. Had it been half the size we could not have complained, but secretly, and a little guiltily, we were glad it wasn’t. Finished off with a liquor coffees it made for a satisfying and memorable meal.
Gusto has all the ingredients – and no just those served up on the plate – to become a favourite among diners in Leamington.
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