Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Al Fresco Lunch at GUSTO 101

Founded by restaurateur Janet Zuccarini (also owner of Trattoria Nervosa in Yorkville), GUSTO 101 located at 101 Portland is probably one of the most popular spots in Toronto currently. Opened in early 2012, the transformed 1900's auto body shop was, in collaboration with Janet, designed by Munge Leung and architect Giancarlo Garfolo. The beautiful, ultra-chic space was instantly a hit in the city and is internationally recognized with a prestigious 2013 Hospitality Design Award in the casual restaurant category.

I attended a media lunch at GUSTO (Twitter: @Gusto101TO, Facebook: Gusto 101last week on their all-new, year-round rooftop patio. Yup, you read that correctly. GUSTO now has a year-round glass roof top! Patio-crazy Torontonians rejoice! Your prayers have been answered!

GUSTO 101 is indeed Toronto's first restaurant with a year-round rooftop patio. Created by OpenAire Inc. in collaboration with once again, the restaurant's overall design team Munge Leung and architect Giancarlo Garfolo, the all-glass retractable rooftop is fully functional (it takes 9 minutes to completely open or close.) Below is a short 1 minute video showing the rooftop opening up.


I also found out that quite a few things used at GUSTO are actually available for purchase at SHOP GUSTO 101. For example, from left to right:

Bread Bag, washable "Paper" bag, Lucca, Italy - $20
Wine Carafe, hand-crafted - 1 L: $36.95, 1.5 L: $46.95
Coffee Cups, hand-painted, Rimini, Italy - Espresso cup and saucer: $18, Macchiato cup and saucer: $20, Cappuccino cup and saucer: $25
GUSTO's Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (from owner's family's oil grove in Italy) - $19.95
GUSTO Peperoncini, hot chili peppers, preserve in-house, 0.5L - $12
GUSTO Sea Salt, fair trade sea salt, Mexico - 250g: $9, 450g: $16
GUSTO Coffee, Trucillo espresso coffee beans - $33 per 1 kg

Designed by Jennifer Zuccarini (Janet's sister), GUSTO's denim shirts / ties / vests worn by the GUSTO staff are also available for purchase. Jennifer is a New York based fashion designer and is the founder of fashion line Fleur du Mal and co-founder of luxury lingerie and lifestyle brand Kiki de Montparnasse (Jennifer was also formerly a Design Director at Victoria's Secret.)

Gusto Denim Uniforms (not pictured) - Jean Shirt: $75, Jean Tie: $45, Jean Vest: $65
Gusto Bicycle Racing Cap (below) - $32

Gusto T-Shirts (designed by Untitled & Co. Toronto) - $30

The GUSTO team:

Executive General Manager Demetrio Bianco 

In charge of day to day operations, Executive General Manager Demetrio Bianco brings his Italian roots and years of expertise in restaurant leadership to GUSTO

Sommelier and Manager Matteo Floris 

Matteo Floris was born in Novafeltria, a small town a few minutes away from Rimini in Italy. Floris has previously worked in London and Cancun, where he was offered a position to run the wine program for the restaurant at the Il Cenacolo resort. Floris left Mexico in 2009 and joined Trattoria Nervosa. Floris has curated a selection of Italian wines aGUSTO (some privately ordered from Italy) as well as a custom cocktail list featuring both classics as well as fresh, seasonally-created cocktails.

It's worth noting that GUSTO also functions as a micro-winery, serving a house wine created by Vintage One winemaker Alejandra de Miguel. GUSTO is also Toronto's first restaurant  to offer wine-on-tap, available for $1 per ounce. 

Executive Chef Daniel Mezzolo

Born in Spilimbergo, Friuli, Italy, Executive Chef Daniel Mezzolo heads the kitchen at GUSTO. With years of experience under his belt and having worked in Italy, Dominican Republic, Denmark, Cuba and finally as Chef de Cuisine at Hockley Valley Resort in Orangeville, Ontario, Mezzolo offers his interpretation of rustic Southern Italian classics with unexpected global flavours of Latin, Moroccan and sometimes even Caribbean flair to GUSTO's menu.

From GUSTO's summer cocktail menu:

Gianelli (left) - Buffalo trace bourbon, home made plum & thyme syrup, fresh squeezed lime, thyme leaves
LeoVince (right) - Appleton 12, amaretto, orange & angostura bitters, aranciata

 GUSTO's washable "paper" bread bag.


Chef Mezzolo and his team prepared one of two family-style sharing menu for us that day. Family style menus are offered for large groups during lunch and dinner: two different sharing menus are available for lunch, each priced at $35 per person, and three different sharing menus are available for dinner, ranging from $45 to $65 per person.

Arancini - Rice, wild mushrooms, fontina, tomato sauce

Carpaccio - Beef tenderloin, truffled cannellini beans, pecorino

Margherita Pizza (left) - Tomato, mozzarella, basil
Polpette Pizza (right) - Tomato, mozzarella, meatballs, smoked provolone

Insalata Cavolo Nero - Lacinate kale, zante currants, toasted pine nuts, shaved pecorino, lemon vinaigrette

Rigatoni ai Funghi - Portobello, oyster mushroom, porcini, truffle paste, light cream

Priced reasonably at $35 pp, this sharing menu is pretty awesome given the selection, portion and quality of food. Also, I finally understand why so many people rave about GUSTO's kale salad because it was seriously one kick-ass salad (same goes for the mushroom pasta, I had to resist the urge to continuously scoop more on my plate.)  

Lunching on a gorgeous rooftop under beautiful skies with cool, refreshing cocktails in hand, I seriously could not ask for more that day!

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

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 GUSTO 101 at