Gvsto tries to be all things to all people. In the morning, they cater to the office crowd serving Italian coffees, expertly produced pastries (try their red pepper croissant), and a breakfast buffet. Come lunchtime, they roll out a casual business set lunch including pastas, piade farcite (specialty Italian pressed sandwiches), fish and meat dishes. Then there’s the aperitif hour (i.e. happy hour) between 5pm-7pm, where, with the purchase of a drink, they serve you with martini glasses filled with squid ink pasta and other appetite whetter’s. Now if only they can get people to leave work by 7pm. This is followed by dinner service.
Though positioned as a casual diner, the smart La Dolce Vita interior and hotel-grade service is more than you would expect in a place where one can grab sandwiches to go. The staff are of Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental pedigree, while the chefs are imports from Italy, much like most of the key ingredients. The food is non-regional. That is to say, the dishes come from all over Italy.
To properly enjoy your Gvsto dining experience, give yourself two hours, and bring a proper appetite. Start with the sesame crusted tuna ($150), a very light, half-rare tuna steak with mixed greens. The tuna is smeared with an olive tapenade and dressed lightly with orange segments and first-pressed olive oil. We tried two pasta courses. The black squid ink pasta with tender rings of squid and lemon rind ($155) was a dish where the texture of fresh pasta was key. The chef obviously knows the true meaning of al dente; there was bite, there was pull.
Now would be a good time to mention just how seriously they take their pastas. All of it made in their new Kennedy Town factory, quality controlled by their head chef Sergio Landi, just like they do in their flagship outlet in Rimini, Italy. How many restaurants can say that?
More evidence of quality: the fresh ricotta-filled ravioli, dressed with fresh tomato, asparagus and herbs ($169), was the simplest of dishes to prepare – where the ingredients better shine or else you get mediocre flavour. The verdict? If you only have half an hour for lunch, do yourself a favour and order this dish.
Like leaving a party when it is still good, we should’ve left before the fish and meat arrived. The fish, sea bass with roasted vegetables and balsamic reduction ( $190), was curiously topped with a lemon squid ink foam that looked like dark mould. We ate with caution. The fish was flat and the root vegetables boring. Next up, the bocconcini di pollo, golden pieces of breaded chicken, was a dish I’ve had in Siena, and this was not it, not even close Barely a step up from oven baked chicken nuggets, I would not pay $175 to eat this again.
The meal ended with tea and complimentary Italian petit fours: butter cookies and what can only be described as a rice pudding tart. It pulled all the comfort food strings.
In sum, because they are trying to be everything to everybody, we think there is a bit of an identity crisis going on. But the solid foundations of a good Italian eatery are all there.
2/F, Nexus Bldg, 41 Connaught, Rd, Central, 2147 3768. Mon-Sat 7am-11pm. Meal for two: around $800.
|Venue name:||Gvsto (Closed)|
2/F, Nexus Bldg, 41 Connaught, Rd, Central
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