Now that’s amore
SPECIALS NIGHT OUT: At Gusto in Hull, Dave Lee discovers that great Italian cooking runs in the family. Just don’t mention that aperitif.
NE of the most popular Italian restaurants in Hull over the last couple of decades was La Perla on Newland Avenue. It served the usual mix of pasta, pizzas, carne and pesce with a touch of flair and a twist of pepper from an over-sized grinder.
Over its final few years it started to feel a little dated and in need of a bit of a rejig. This was probably because owner Gianfranco Redolfi’s attentions were focused round the corner at Da Gianni, his new (slightly-trendier) restaurant on Princes Avenue.
I visit Da Gianni a lot; partly because I like the unhurried insouciance of the waiting staff, but mainly because they make the best pizzas in the whole of East Yorkshire.
Da Gianni is a joint venture between Gianfranco and his son Gianpaul and when Redolfi Snr decided last year to call time on La Perla, it was Redolfi Jnr who brought in business partner Alex Stothard and set out to refit, remix and reopen his dad’s restaurant as Gusto. They have been open since November last year and, if the fine night I had there last Tuesday is anything to go by, they are set to challenge Da Gianni for crown of “My Favourite Italian For 50 Miles”.
Gusto is a long, skinny, single room decorated in a bistro style, with cosy wooden tables and very little faff or fuss. The menu contains all the usual Italian favourites, but I’m delighted to say that we never even made it to the menu proper as the twice-weekly updated specials menu proved to be an ample treasure trove of tempting seasonal delights.
Chef Gianpaul studied for three years in northern Italy and it’s the relatively more complex and adventurous cuisine of the north that he specialises in. That said, the cured venison bresaola with rocket salad and buffalo ricotta was an atypically simple offering – just three raw ingredients arranged on a plate, but the quality of those ingredients ensured it was devoured with unseemly haste.
If made incautiously, Arancini Siciliani (deep fried risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella) can sometimes be a dry, stodgy affair, but here it was crunchy yet soft and served with a fragrant basil and tomato sauce.
JUST THE ITALIAN JOB:
Right, Italian ice cream; above, a main of agnello della primavera – garlic and rosemary roasted spring lamb chump on a bed of lentils with pancetta and onion; far left, a starter of pan-fried cod cheeks on braised lentils with a caper and parsley...