There is an abundance of restaurants in Newcastle; some of the very best in the north. And with new venues and eateries popping up all the time, restaurants across the city need to keep their offer fresh and exciting for the foodie society of the Toon.
Newcastle’s Gusto Restaurant and Bar has long held a reputation for fine Italian food, fancy cocktails and a glorious spot on the Quayside to enjoy both.
The team at Gusto recently offered a group of food enthusiasts from the blogging community the opportunity to try a selection of dishes from their brand new menu.
Recognising the need to mix things up, the directors of Gusto apparently took a food tour of Milan in order to regain perspective on authentic and traditional Italian cuisine. Imagine that being part of your job? Just eating your way around the best restaurants in Milan…
Anyway, they came home with the intention to take the Gusto menu back to its Italian roots, presenting customers with their take on the best hearty and homemade dishes from Italy in their restaurants in Newcastle and across the UK.
They’ve also included a range of vegan dishes on the new menu too. There really is something for everyone!
We were given platters and sharing plates to try bitesize portions of a wide range of dishes.
The first dish we sampled was the Gusto Dough Petals starter stuffed with tomato, shallots and served with a homemade mayonnaise.
They were tangy and crisp with a lovely stodgy dough. You can also get the dough petals filled with garlic and parsley or prosciutto and mozzarella.
I’m not too keen on anything too heavy as my first course, but these were lovely.
We then tried another starter, the Warm Mushroom Crostini. Mushrooms, caramelised onion and rocket with truffle oil.
This was more up my street, however I perhaps wouldn’t have added the caramelised onion. Purely because I didn’t think it needed it, the mushrooms on crusty bread with that drizzle of truffle was delightful!
The next to arrive was a sharing platter of Arancini, Milanese style meatballs, antipasti and calamari.
There wasn’t quite enough for everyone to try, but I did manage to pinch a meatball and an arancini.
The Sicilian Arancini was beautiful and handmade at Gusto every single day. Made with Gran Moravia cheese, I found them light and full of flavour with a crunchy breadcrumb shell.
The meatballs were delicious too, the meat was juicy and seasoned really well.
The platter is advised for two people and prices around £15.95. There would definitely be enough for two as a starter dish or just as a light bite while sharing a bottle of wine with one of the girls.
Next was yet another starter, the pan fried prawns with fennel, capers and chilli oil. Again, my small sample was delicious. Prawns were well cooked and I loved the bitter, spicy combination from the sauce. It complemented the prawns well.
This number was the cheese and truffle crispy ravioli, also an option on the starter menu.
I was excited to try this as it looked small and light, and sounded like something I’d definitely order. I’ve never tried a crispy ravioli before, and it was odd. But in a good way. I would have perhaps preferred more filling as I wasn’t sure I could taste the truffle. It could have been just the sample I tried, and it definitely wouldn’t put me off ordering it again, but I love truffle and definitely would have liked it a little stronger.
Next up were the pizzas! The first was a vegan option, aptly named the Vegano.
It was a tomato base topped with courgette, rocket, caramelised onion, roast peppers and pine nuts.
Now, you know me. As a raging carinvkre, naturally, I turned my nose up. But also as a greedy foodie, I wanted to try it. And I was really surprised!
With the range of textures and well balanced flavours you actually don’t miss the meat. It was really fresh but also felt hearty and filling.
Then, this arrived. Again, not a meat based number but honestly, probably my favourite dish of the evening.
The Truffled Funghi pizza had a creamy white sauce base and topped with wild mushrooms, rocket and… truffle oil. The truffle taste was definite present, but everything about it was scrumptious. A perfectly crisp, super thin crust too – just how I like it!
Teamed with a glass of wine, this would be perfect for dining al-fresco on the Quayside.
The pizzas range from just under a tenner to around £15. There were a decent size, so I think it’s probably about average for a restaurant like Gusto.
We were then presented with the Rainbow Superfood Salad. A huge, colourful salad with avocado, ribbons of courgette and carrot, pumpkin seeds flatbreads and a lovely side of houmous.
I love salads in the summer, but I’ve never been one to order one when eating out. This one could definitely tempt me though. The ingredients were lovely and fresh but it was the sweet dressing that really made me go back for more. The houmous was beautiful too, nicely blended and a good garlicky flavour.
The salad was £10.95, but you can pay an extra £2.00 and add grilled chicken or prosciutto.
Unfortunately, I personally don’t have the willpower to order a salad in a place that also creates some incredible pasta and pizza dishes for a similar price. If you can, I honestly salute you.
Finally, we had the Milanese Saffron Risotto. It was topped with a 5 hour slow cooked ragu made of three different meats. And my god, was it good.
It came very close to being my favourite dish of the evening, in fact, I don’t think I can still decide which was better between this and the truffle pizza.
The meat was so tender and the risotto rice itself was soft, seasoned and had that beautiful sticky consistency of a good risotto.
Throughout the night, we were also treated to a range of new cocktails. There was just one of each to share, so I only managed a sip to sample each cocktail. It’s a good thing really, I had the car and you know I can’t help myself…
The classic, Old Fashioned. I love this cocktail and thought it was a pretty good effort. Some fellow diners said it tasted a bit weak, so maybe I’m just a wuss, but I liked it!
This was a lemon meringue inspired cocktail. This would of been my go-to on the menu, and it lived up to it too! Really bitter and fresh with an element of smokiness from the burnt meringue on top. Would definitely recommend if you enjoy a citrus number.
This pretty little thing was a non-alcoholic option. And I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called… But I do know it went down a treat with everyone around the table!
You’d literally never know that this contained no alcohol. Perfect for the summer sun!
I’ve always enjoyed going to Gusto (they do a cracking steak too), and they’ve certainly teased me with samples of their new menu. I’m definitely going to head back to enjoy the full experience, so I’ll be able to report to you with better detail soon!
They also have a lovely looking gin selection in addition to their impressive cocktail menu, so I’ll sample a few of those too. Purely for research purposes…
Have you tried Gusto Restaurant and Bar’s new menu yet? Tell me about it! Leave me a comments or tweet @ProperScrummy.
Lots of love, LB x