Once in a while you hit on a new restaurant which exceeds your expectations. If you are really lucky, it is in your neighborhood. My lucky day happened, Gusto Ristorante e Bar Americano, opened in my hood. I have a sneaking suspicion that people will come from all over to eat at Jody Williams new place, not just from the local neighborhood. Too bad for me.
The restaurant is located at Greenwich and Perry. Restaurant row in the West Village. If things continue to change in this area of the city, Jody's restaurant will be the first step of more upscale restaurants on that street.
The decor is simple, clean and fresh. Black and white is the color with a long bar and a great chandelier. Booths and tables. The menu is home cooked Italian with flair. Our meal was fantastic.
We started with the squash blossoms stuff with mozzarella, spices and fried to perfection. It was too bad we shared them because I could have eaten an entire plate by myself. Not greasy, just perfect. We also shared four other appetizers. Each delicious. Grilled sardines was the appetizer of the day. Cooked to perfection. Easily slid off the bone. The octopus and celery was also good. The octopus was grilled, yet slightly charred with a vinaigrette of celery poured over the top. The crunch of the celery with the octopus was the perfect combo in your mouth. The fried artichokes were crispy, not too oily and melted in your mouth. Small Italian artichokes. The last appetizer we split was the marinated cuttlefish. Small pieces of cuttlefish marinated in olive oil and seasonings. It was the least favorite of mine but more on personal likes than taste.
We couldn't help it (I was with the foodie group) we split 2 pastas before our main course. There were 4 of us. I could have stopped at this point, I was truly full but everything was just so good, I couldn't help myself. The wine didn't hurt either. We split the ravioli stuffed with eggs, walnuts and bitter greens. We also split the classic Sardinian pasta with mint, tomatoes and pecorino. All the pastas were divine. At this point, I wouldn't have expected anything else.
Main courses were our own but we tasted everything. The Dover sole was drenched in a lemon sauce and the fish cut like butter. The tuna belly was grilled exactly as ordered with a mixture of olives and escarole which intensified the flavor over the top. The salt cod isn't something I would order but beautifully presented and delicious. I had the veal chop special. Huge veal chop, juicy inside and crispy outside. A medley of mushrooms served over the top. Sublime. They also sent over the beef ribs which were falling over the bone and had a serious kick to them. I had to have one bite.
Desserts were divine too. Ice creams, cakes and cookies. I don't remember much at this point, but I remember I couldn't stop eating the pistachio ice cream. Sweet and smooth.
All and all one of the best new places I have been to in a while. Looking forward to returning again and again. FYI - the night we went, the place was buzzing with foodies - Gourmet mag writers, other restaurateurs etc. Everyone was congratulating Jody. Me too. Bravo!!