Gusto – Manchester’s Perfect Food Remedy

Winter in Manchester can be hard to stomach, gone are the lights promising Christmas cheer, the vibrant German inspired markets and the flowing mulled ciders to soothe chilly bones.

Instead everyone bows their head, the rain sweeps in with an icy chill and we all start to pray for the sultry damp spring mornings that come with a promise of summer. In these moments it helps to seek rich comfort food, warm intimate surroundings and the buzz of people laughing amidst a laid back culinary affair – this is Gusto.

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The Italian inspired beauty has already carved its name into the culinary scene with its divine little eatery in the affluent Aldery Edge, but the Manchester city center version invites a good time, a mouthwatering menu and an unpretentious edge. We start our love affair at the bar with a glass of sheer Sicilian bliss. One sip of the fresh white wine emulates the lemon sun, the salt ocean spray and the tangle of vineyards rolling down the mountains.

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The restaurant is well laid out with intimate booths and little tables surrounding the spacious wooden bar glimmering in the middle. Low globe lighting, tan leather, deep green and half-finished murals on the wall make you feel instantly out of the limelight meaning you can sink back into the plush leather booth, peruse the menu and laugh as loud as you like.

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The menu is simple, inspired and in traditional Italian fashion geared more towards vivacious fresh ingredients as opposed to gimmicks and small plates of artistic glory. The beetroot bruschetta served with sweet red onion, cranberry and goat’s cheese was a dream come true, the bright notes of the beetroot tasting wonderfully subdued and balanced with the feta salt. Nibbling on roast leeks wrapped in prosciutto ham and dipping the house dough petals into lashings of garlic butter was the perfect way to start an Italian feast.

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Pizzas and pasta make an expected appearance on the Gusto menu, yet enticingly bring buttery flavors, crispy chewy dough and market fresh produce directly to the plate. The handmade butternut squash ravioli from the hills of Northern Italy resounded with earthy green sage, sweet squash and almond notes that melted on the tongue.

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Ever one for comfort food, the oven baked lasagna was a mirage of fresh tomatoes, garlic, fragrant basil and layers of oozing buffalo mozzarella cheese. For a slice of first class flavor the Caprino pizza blended creamy goats cheese with honeyed caramelized onions, a dab of pesto, brightly roasted red peppers and peppery rocket.

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For dessert, we finished with a lemon sorbet that transported every taste bud to the blooming sunsets and the mirrored waters of the Amalfi Coast, where tiny trattorias cling to cliff sides and gelato can be found on every nook and cranny of the shore. One sip of limoncello was enough to cleanse the senses and bring a warm final flourish to the stomach.

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Gusto is the perfect remedy for those winter blues, those times when you crave warmth and company without having to create a fuss. Despite it being a Monday night every table was alive with rosy cheeked wonder, people sipping wine and leaning across the table, whereas the slick wet streets outside were empty.

As I leaned back to survey the scene I realized how glad I was to have found an upmarket Italian gem that didn’t rely on white linen and stuffy silences. Gusto manages to find that line, a place where Tony Soprano could chow down.

All Images’ Courtesy:

Jodie Oakes

Jodie Oakes

Jodie Oakes is a seasoned writer and an avid surfer with continuously itchy feet and a love of the finer things in life. After traveling through the continent with a touring band, living in Paris, Amsterdam and under the Auroras Borealis, she is now in Bulgaria where she attempts to piece together her first poetry collection.
Jodie Oakes