Saloni Sethia is Executive Director at Yamaha Music. She is an avid Toastmaster and a blogger

Saloni SethiaWhen talking about Italian food, authenticity is the key. Authenticity, as opposed to the stereotypical red and white table cloths so often associated with Italian restaurants, means focusing on the fantastic flavours that have confirmed Italian cuisine as the most popular in the world. Authenticity, when talking Italian, also means simplicity — relying on superior quality ingredients, rather than elaborate preparation. Gusto Italian Restaurant was anything but authentic.

Gusto is right at the heart of Thamel. Its attractive board makes it hard to miss. We walked in expecting a lot in terms of ambience and food.

As soon as we walked in, we were disappointed with the ambience. The place was dimly lit, and the decor on the walls and tables was mediocre. They had added a nice touch with brass objects on the wall, but the overall effect was diluted by plain tablecloths and the lighting.

Additionally, an area supposed to be for customers was converted into a dark storeroom and it was in plain view. Everything just felt gloomy, and it did not help that we were the only other group in the restaurant.

Gusto has a typical Italian restaurant menu comprising starters, soups, pizzas, pastas and sandwiches. Nothing innovative, except that they have Nepali starters such as Chicken Sandheko on the menu. When we asked the waiter for a recommendation, he suggested, we order the Nepali set! It shows lack of confidence in their Italian items.

While the starters, soups and pasta were moderately priced, pizzas were expensive and matched those of a high-end Italian restaurant of Kathmandu.

We ordered cream of mushroom and a hot and sour vegetarian soup to start with. Main course was Fungi Pizza, Four Cheese Pizza and Arrabiata Pasta.

The service was good and within 10 minutes, our soups arrived. The mushroom soup was average, the hot and sour felt like spices cooked raw in hot water. I had to leave it after a few sips as the vegetables were not cooked properly. Both soups did not feel fresh, and tasted eerily like packaged soups.

I had higher hopes from pizzas. However, Fungi Pizza tasted awful. The dough felt like rubber, there was no salt or flavour of cheese, sauce, or mushrooms.

The Four Cheese Pizza tasted better but hardly had any flavour. It definitely did not have the four cheese mentioned on the menu.

The saving grace was Arrabiata Pasta. It tasted wonderful, and had just the right amount of flavours and spices.

Somewhere along the meal, we asked for glasses of warm water — the glasses had stains on them. Combined with the open storeroom, and the dirty upholstery of the sofas, we began to question the food’s hygiene.

We skipped the desserts as they had limited menu. We went to another nearby restaurant to complete our dinner.

Overall, the food lacked the vibrant and vivid tastes. It may be suitable for tourists desperate for an Italian bite, but for locals, there are better options.

GUSTO ITALIAN RESTAURANT RATINGS

Ambience: 4.5

Food quality: 3

Presentation: 5

Quality of service: 6

Hygiene: 3

Value for money: 4

Overall satisfaction

value: 4