Location: West Streetsboro Street Hudson, OH 44236 Google Maps
I think that Gusto D’Italia has promise. I wasn’t blown away by my first visit there, but I was surprised. The location doesn’t say much for the restaurant – in a shopping plaza with an Acme and McDonalds around it. In fact, there have been more than six different restaurants in that exact location over time. That said, the interior is decorated nicely, but too many tables give a real cramped feeling. The food, like the restaurant, has promise, but came up just a little short.
Not much from the outside, just your typical shopping plaza restaurant. Once inside, you forgot about the plaza and felt like you were somewhere else. It was nice to be greeted by a host dressed in a suit; gave a professional and upscale feel. There is a stone wall at the entrance that has water trickling down. It isn’t flowing like most interior waterfalls, just a trickle – I liked the subtlety. Dimly lit all over, the bar had leather couches and high tables to sit at. The formal dining room had only tables (big plus), but they were too close together.
Politely greeted as we entered, I thought the gentleman was a little too much when he asked “Name Please…” It’s hard to describe in words, but imagine a British butler from the past, speaking really slowly, and a little loud “Naaaammmmme Pleeeaaaassseee”. Then he waved his arm in the air with his pen as he went to cross our name off the reservation list. Not necessary.
We were early by 20 minutes and so they suggested we go to the bar. Great – here we go again, the place is pushing their drinks on me already. Not the case! I was surprised to see they had a sofa area to sit down and wait. A couple bar tenders came to us to make sure we were being served and after politely saying we’re just waiting for our table, they smiled and said “No problem, if you need anything then, come on up”. For once I felt at ease in a bar not ordering a drink.
Our waiter was nice, polite, but a little strange. He seemed nervous going through the specials, but he was fine; not intrusive during the meal at all. I did notice him goofing off with another waiter serving water – so what you say? Well he had my drink in his hand and spilled some of it on the floor. Not cool!
To start off, I had the crab cakes. I’m a sucker for crab cakes and make them at home often. These had absolutely no fillers; just pure crab meat. The sundried tomato aioli that accompanied it, was lacking something. You will never see me complain about something not having enough salty falvour. I will never put salt from the table on my meal and I did not do so at Gusta D’Italia. However, the crab cakes were missing something salty; it was bland.
I went for the Veal Tenderloin with Prosciutto and Fontina Cheese. Served with the Chef’s choice of starch and vegetable.
The starch ended up being Risotto – now I’ll just comment to that a little. I know risotto somehow has fanciness attached to it. I’m not 100% sure as to why; maybe because of the difficulty in cooking it. It is difficult, and this wasn’t cooked right. Believe it or not, some bits were hard and other bits mushy. I would have preferred roasted potatoes or something along those lines. Any why is it unknown until the day? What is going on behind the scenes that they can’t commit to a specific ‘starch’ for a plate each and every time?
The vegetable was string beans. Ok.
Onto the main part of the dish, the veal and the prosciutto, fontina filling. The veal was good when I could bite into a piece without fat being around it. I think I was the unlucky person to get a piece of veal that had a good portion of fat in one area. Once I got by that, it was good, but still lacking something. You would imagine the salt and flavors of the prosciutto and the fontina cheese would be plenty, but you couldn’t even taste them when eating them on their own. I don’t know what it was, but there was just no flavor coming from the dish. Someone else at our table ordered the same thing and had a similar reaction. I’m rather confused how a cured meat and cheese couldn’t give enough flavors to a dish.
Now finally I had some flavor! Ordered the Tiramisu and for the first time, it wasn’t just a piece on a plate; it was in its very own bowl. I liked the individuality of it, and most of all the taste. It was a solid Tiarmisu and I would go back just for drinks and that to be honest.
I went off course from my usual and ordered a Grande Martini, which included Vodka, Grand Marnier and Orange Juice. I liked it. It wasn’t filled to the top, partly because our waiter spilled it during his antics.
We ordered a bottle of wine, which the name escapes me now. It was one of the recommendations on the table 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot. Priced at only $22 a bottle, I found it to be a delicious wine. In fact, I want to find out the name of it and buy it to drink at home. I’ll be sure to update with the name when I find it.
I liked the evening. It was a new place and it wasn’t a bad experience. I believe it has a lot of room for improvement. I was disappointed to have made reservations only to be seated in one of the middle tables where it was crowded; especially when there were tables by the window that never were occupied…didn’t make sense. Next time I am going to specify a window table. The food just was lacking something; dare I say it was bland overall? I was disappointed with the “starch” being risotto and hope that they can be more creative next time. Despite the crowded atmosphere, the odd waiter and the bland food, I am going to go back to try it out again. It won’t be one of my first choices, but I want to see how it is in a few months. If anything, I’d go back to have a drink at the bar, very cool atmosphere. I rate it a 7 based on the potential the place has - the dishes sound like they could be really good, they just got to take it to the next level; the wine was great and the desert delicious; and the bar would be fun to go and have a drink and a small appetizer.