Take a little trip with me; drive down Fremont Street in Seaside and envision yourself traveling down a Venetian canal with your loved one in hand. Can you hear the gondolier singing Italian opera in the background? Okay, so this might be a bit of a stretch but I guarantee you the cuisine awaiting inside Gusto Handcrafted Pasta & Pizza will have you feeling as if you were in Venice's Piazza San Marco!
The humble building on Seaside's bustling Fremont Street is just a front for the Italian delight that lies inside. As soon as you swing open the doors you know you are in for treat as a wood burning brick pizza oven greets you front and center.
The main dining area is open and airy with perfect seating arrangements fit for everything from family get-togethers to romantic tables for two. The table settings are simple yet classy, definitely not a paper plate and napkin type of pizzeria. Walls are scattered with fresh images of Italian cuisine, just enough to rev up your appetite.
A sleek counter top and bar stretch through the restaurant, perfect for catching up on the game and ordering a casual drink. Their extensive beer and wine list is full of both local and Italian goodies including specialty cocktails featuring Campari and Amaretto.
Owner and Chef Denis Boaro was basically born in the kitchen and watched his family refine their cooking skills in his small hometown of San Zenone degli Ezzelini in northern Italy. Today, Denis is proud to say that the food served at Gusto's is the same food that he grew up eating and he is proud to share his family's creations with his patrons.
His menu is full of everything the Gusto's name implies, tantalizing gourmet pastas and handcrafted pizzas, perfect for a family-style type of meal.
Before diving into the carbs one must indulge in Gusto's specialty meats and cheeses found on their antipasto Piatto del Salumiere dish. Several imported meats including mortadella, prosciutto and salami are scattered charcuterie style with Italian cheeses, Mediterranean olives and a sweet fig jam. The truffle cheese in particular is to die for!
Word of caution, it may be difficult to choose just one of the dozen pizza concoctions offered on the menu. There's everything from a simple Margherita to a loaded Capricciosa. The Capricciosa is basically one Mediterranean party summed up on one pie with fresh San Marzano tomatoes, prosciutto, artichokes, mushrooms, olives, capers and mozzarella cheese, of course.
The best part about all of their pizza pies is the crust! The key to their thin yet fluffy crust lies within the organic flour imported from Mulino Sobrino, Italy. Once you have tried it you will realize it was definitely worth the trek overseas.
Be sure to save room for at least one (or two) pasta dishes. Gusto's lasagna in particular is a work of art with several thin layers of traditional beef Bolognese and béchamel sauce smothered in between homemade pasta and melted mozzarella. The simplicity and the freshness of the sauce make it a stand out as its ingredients only call for tomatoes, basil and olive oil.
The spaghetti carbonara is another pasta crowd-pleaser with a luscious cream sauce sprinkled with crispy pancetta over al dente pasta. And the best part is the presentation as the raw egg cooks in front of your eyes, now that's amore!
What Italian meal is complete without dessert? Gusto's biscottis and tiramisu are about as genuine as you are going to get on this continent. I would recommend ordering an Italian espresso with dessert to avoid a full-on food coma.
Gusto's is open daily for lunch from 11:30am-2:30pm and dinner from 4:30pm-9pm.