We’ve been wooed by Gusto, a fantastic new eatery championing uncomplicated food that holds Italian authenticity close to its heart.
There’s something about Italy and its preoccupation with food that resonates with us. We challenge anyone to corner the cuisine as a trend, as Italian cooking ignites love and passion in a way that many others do not.
Thus the arrival of Gusto, the newest addition to SKYCITY’s gastronomic urban pocket, couldn’t be more welcome. Spearheaded by chef Sean Connolly of The Grill fame, Gusto, pronounced correctly as ‘Guh-stoh’, showcases fresh seasonal ingredients, inspired by the food philosophy that “the less you do the better.”
Taking fresh ownership of the space where Peter Gordon’s legendary dine once stood, the eatery has taken pride of place as the hotel’s new crown jewel, both as a welcome haven for those staying within hotel walls and a destination restaurant for locals. The interior has been opened up completely, while still acknowledging dine’s legacy. Those iconic chandeliers in the main dining room still reign supreme, yet are now adjoined by an expansive bar of Arabescato marble and gold onyx. A place full of exquisite subtleties, timber floors, dark panelling and a rich colour palette evoke a truly authentic European dining experience, with stained American ash tables and Thonet chairs completing the Italian bistro vibe. Particularly memorable is the four metre-long rendition of an octopus by Archibald prizewinner Jason Benjamin, a welcome sense of whimsy that appears to be de rigueur in good Italian eateries.
The kitchen is open plan with a multitude of work areas, just like a true Italian hub. Special mentions go to the workbench reserved for making the day’s pastries, pastas and gnocchi, and the lofty chef’s table. The former greets you upon arrival, and the latter, with space for between 6 to 8 diners, is positioned strategically in the heart of all the action.
And then there’s the food. Oh my, is it Italian. Rustic with a dash of sophistication, Connolly seems to have pin pointed exactly what the cuisine is founded on, with an emphasis on provenance of ingredients, uncomplicated marriages of flavour and above all, comfort.
The first chapter of Gusto’s menu is concentrated on snacks and starters, with glory dishes including a housemade ricotta, drizzled in honey and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts. Graze on cured meats, wake up your palate with raw tuna topped with fresh green apple and radish, or take bites of bruschetta covered in a lively mash up of peas, mint and ricotta. In so far as the main event, the seafood linguine is a perfect example of what to expect from Gusto, a perfectly salty ode to a dish from which countless iterations have been born. The Sardinian ravioli is whirled with all that’s great about its namesake region, with fresh potato, mint, Pecorino cheese and sage butter making for an unholy satisfying meal.
For such a brief menu, it feels full of choice, as all dishes proved rather hard to resist. If it’s time-honoured Italian food and drink you’re craving, Gusto is the new, hot ticket.
Gusto will be open seven days a week from 6.30am for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 22nd of February.