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Food Review Gusto

Lucy Adlard heads to a suburban Italian which passes the 'meatball test'

Food Review: Gusto

Located out in Cookridge and built around a 200 year old olive tree which is decorated with fairy lights, Gusto has created a lovely warm and inviting atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Despite being some way out of the bustling Leeds city centre, when we arrive on a Sunday evening the main part of the restaurant is almost full.

The décor is the first thing to strike you as you enter the building, it is elegantly done with wooden floors and tables, with the aforementioned fairy lights and low-level lighting above the tables giving soft, romantic lighting. Unfortunately we are seated at the only table without a light above it and so it is a little dark, but not so bad that we can’t see our food.

Our waiter arrives promptly with menus and the suggestion of a tomato garlic bread (£4.25) which we take him up on as me and my dining partner are both pretty famished. We also order our drinks, I opt for a Italian Pinot Grigio (£4.80 for 175ml), suggested by the waiter as a nice dry white – a very pleasant fruity number. My dining partner picks a Becks (£3.15 for a pint) which is the lager on draught, although they also stock a good selection of bottled beers.

Our garlic bread is quick to get to us and is quickly eaten, it is the size of a pizza but with a lovely thin base and adorned with plenty of tomato and garlic and a hint of basil. For my starter I opt for a antipasti of Tuscan cured ham, spianata salami, beef carpaccio and smoked duck (£7.25) which comes with a good amount of the meats, mozarella, red pepper and rocket salad and some toasted ciabatta. This is a simple dish that shows the quality of the ingredients and the beef carpaccio is especially moreish.

My fellow diner opts for the tomato glazed chicken skewers with melted mozzarella and pesto (£6.45) which is another comparatively simple dish with the good strong flavours of the tomato glaze and pesto shining through.

On to the main, I go for the pan-fried seabream with polenta chips and homemade tartar sauce (£12.95) with a side of mixed vegetables (£2.95). The fish surpasses expectations with a delicious crispy skin and moist flesh while the polenta chips are a good alternative to the potato version. Call me a traditionalist but I still think some form of peas or beans would have gone down well with the fish and chips, that said my ‘panache‘ of peppers, asparagus and broccoli is a good substitute. The homemade Italian meatballs in a tomato sauce on spaghetti (£9.50) that my partner goes for are huge and packed with flavour in a rich tomato sauce. As a good benchmark for any Italian worth its salt, Gusto passes the meatball test.

The service throughout the night is impeccable and is friendly and welcoming enough to make sure punters want to return. With such an extensive menu you could come back week after week and have something different every time. Mains include a good selection of pizzas and pastas as well as meat and seafood sections which include a range of steak and lobster.

For pudding I can’t help but choose the sticky toffee pudding (£5.95) while my partner is too full for anything more. Unfortunately as the pudding is so deliciously sticky and unctuous I only get to have half of it, and the other half is strangely devoured by someone who couldn’t manage another thing…

Gusto is worth venturing out of the centre of Leeds for, it’s elegant décor, excellent service and welcoming atmosphere make it a perfect place to unwind and relax over some great tasting Italian food.

Posted on Wednesday 8th December 2010


151 Otley Old Road, Cookridge, Leeds, LS16 6HN

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