A restaurant getting a new menu is always a reason to celebrate, so I was excited to try the latest offerings from one of my favourite Newcastle restaurants, Gusto on the Quayside at this event last weekend.
I arrived late and missed the wine tasting, but luckily didn’t miss out on any delicious food. Any Italian starter worth it’s salt needs to involve meat and/or cheese and this combination didn’t disappoint. A large selection of Italian cured meats – think bresaola, prosciutto, salami, speck ham and my personal favourite mortadella arrived – a bit of a challenge for a vegetarian. I’ve been a bit lax recently so sneaked some alongside the very fine cheeses – dolcelatte, smoked provola, buffalo mozzarella and pecorino. The rosemary focaccia and tomato chutney were perfect accompaniments to the overflowing sharing platters.
The number of new main courses was actually overwhelming – we tried no fewer than eight new dishes which are all perfect for the summer and al fresco dining. I tried not to overdo it on the pasta but that never works – all three didn’t involve meat and didn’t need it due to the winning combinations of herbs and spices. We tried Rigatoni Primavera, topped off with asparagus spears, fagioli beans, peas, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes and just the right amount of creme fraiche. Fans of something a little more spicy enjoyed the Tagliatelle Arrabbiato – with plenty of excellent quality tomatoes and mozzarella, chilli and fresh basil. If you’re looking for something a little different when you visit this summer, try the Saffron Risotto with a white crab salad. It’s a vibrant yellow with succulent crab meat strewn over the rice, with an equally tasty salad on the side and just the right amount of saffron. The salads include my new favourite – home cured salmon, shaved fennel, orange, radish and radicchio with a creme fraiche dressing. Anyone looking for something more simple yet just as moreish will enjoy the asparagus and avocado salad with baby gem lettuce, tonnato dressing and topped off with a poached egg.
Italian restaurants are usually judged on the quality of their pizza and the latest Gusto offerings don’t disappoint. There’s nothing better than an unfussy pizza sometimes, but there’s no way flavour is comprised with the Quattro Formaggio with dolcelatte, goat’s cheese and mozarella on a sweet tomato base, finished with rocket and pecorino. Totally delicious. I also like fish on pizza, if you’re also partial to this try the Napolitana sardine fillet pizza with anchovies, olives, parsley and mozzarella on a sweet tomato base. Fans of something a little different will love the Slow Roast Pork, Ventriciana salami, pancetta, caramelised onion version with BBQ sauce and the piece de la resistance – delicious pork scratchings (I couldn’t resist).
I had spotted the dessert wine from across the room and couldn’t resist – it was delicious and a perfect choice to accompany the Italian Mess – a luscious mash-up of meringue and summer fruits, decorated with strawberries and a delicious coulis. I’m a churros addict and Gusto’s Italian version – Bombolini are a new favourite – home made mini doughnuts served with whipped cream and a thick, decadent chocolate sauce.
So if you’re craving Italian with a twist, look no further than Gusto. They’re doing things differently.
Thanks to Jess Hewison from Gusto and Lauren Archer
from Scran on the Tyne #ScranSocial for organising the event.
For more information and menus – gustorestaurants.uk.com/restaurants/gusto-newcastle