Reviewed by Joanne Knox
Gusto is an Italian restaurant and bar chain and we visited the Manchester restaurant, close to a number of city centre car parks and easy links by tram and train. The entrance to this Grade II listed building was off the main road and its inconspicuous doorway didn’t give me any clues to what I would find inside. The sign was discreet and you likely wouldn’t have known it was there unless you were looking for it.
We ascended a small stairway and were met by two smartly dressed ladies on a formal reception desk who quickly led us through to the dining room. The beautiful decor surpassed my original expectations and I felt I was in 1920’s luxury with the art deco theme dark wood and dome lighting. A grand island bar dominated the centre of the space and was certainly the centrepiece. We were seated in one of only 5 booths, slightly raised to give a vantage point so we could see everything going on around us.
Our drinks order was taken quickly and I barely had time to take in the extensive wine and cocktail list some of which was unusual such as a tiramisu martini but I stuck to a classic Pino, it was only lunchtime after all. The menu featured classic Italian dishes, with pizzas, deli boards and pasta. In addition there is a selection if steaks and seafood available.
The waitress was able to make recommendations off the specials menu and I started with tiger prawns in a garlic, tomato and cream sauce and my other half had sardine fillets wrapped in prosciutto ham with spiced tomato compote with rocket and lemon. They came out beautifully presented and tasted delicious. I was definitely looking forward to my main course.
We had time to take in the surroundings whilst waiting for our next course. I was surprised at how busy it was for a Saturday lunchtime considering it is what I would consider ‘high end’ dining. The jazz music playing in the background and the mumblings of people talking in the room provided for a lovely atmosphere and I completely forgot it was only early Saturday afternoon. Whilst we were waiting the waitress was attentive ensuring we had a drink. The manager also did the rounds ensuring the guests were enjoying their afternoon.
We both ordered from the specials menu for our main course. I had the seared scallops with red pepper, spinning and hazelnut butter. They came beautifully presented displayed in seashells accompanied with creamy mash. They were cooked to perfection, perfectly seasoned, bellisimo! My husband had the six bone rack of lamb with salsa verde and of course it would have been rude of me not to try it. The lamb was tender, juicy and very tasty. One word – delicious.
Whilst there were many tempting deserts on the menu, I was brimming with the gorgeous food we had already eaten so we settled for a lemon sorbet and a cappuccino, a lovely way to end the meal.
Gusto has a great upmarket, classy feel and whilst the specials may have been expensive for a Saturday lunchtime, there were still many other affordable options on the al a carte menu. There is a lunch menu Monday to Friday which looks like value for money and I will certainly be adding a date into my diary to go back. Gusto also caters for children with the option to make their own pizza or have a smaller portion of something off the main menu and we did see some families in there during our visit with children of varying ages.
Gusto Manchester is like the secret club that you only know exists if someone tells you about it, hidden away in the heart of Manchester. I’ll definitely be telling my friends and family that this is a restaurant they should go and visit. Gusto… is a must to go!
Excellent food and service all in a great setting, it would make a perfect restaurant for a Valentine’s dinner.
For more information, to view menus or to make a reservation click here or call 0161 832 2866.
Gusto Manchester, 4 Lloyd Street (off Deansgate), Manchester, M2 5AB | 0161 832 2866