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Introducing: Gusto 101, a new King West Italian joint that’s got wine on tap (from the basement winery)

The bar at Gusto 101 (Image: Gizelle Lau)

Gusto 101, the latest shiny new thing to appear in the perpetually-in-construction King West neighbourhood, opened its doors last Friday. Built out of a dilapidated old auto garage, Gusto 101 is still decidedly King West—and that’s exactly what owner Janet Zuccarini (Trattoria Nervosa), director of operations Jill McAbe and designer Alessandro Munge were going for. Inside, the bare cinderblock walls are outfitted with industrial-style light fixtures, and old licence plates hang on a wooden beam. The open kitchen shows off the restaurant’s centerpiece: a Tuscan-style wood-fire grill.

In the kitchen is executive chef Daniel Mezzolo, previously of Hockley Valley Resort. The dinner menu was designed mainly by Zuccarini and focuses on bold Italian flavours. There are antipasti, like char-grilled octopus ($13.49), and fritti, like arancini with wild mushrooms and fontina ($9). Of course, there’s pasta: rigatoni with braised oxtail ($13.79), ricotta gnocchi with pork sausage ($13.79) and pappardelle al funghi with portobello, oyster and porcini mushrooms and truffle paste in a light cream sauce ($14.79). The wood-fire oven is responsible for the pizzas like the polpette, with tomatoes, mozzarella, meatballs and smoked provolone ($13.79), and mains like Moroccan “brick chicken,” which is cooked sous-vide then finished on the grill and served with Swiss chard and garlic smashed potatoes ($17). Desserts come in mini-portions and include mascarpone tiramisu, dark chocolate mousse with caramel, olive oil and sea salt, and wild lemon air: aerated limoncello with fizzy candy, candied celery and a sprinkle of ground coffee ($3 each or $8.50 for a combo of all three).

On the drink menu: cocktails, a robust selection of Italian wines and Vini di Gusto, Gusto’s own wine, which is on tap for a buck an ounce. The wine is made in the restaurant’s own winery (located in the basement), where stainless steel vats of malbec and sauvignon blanc are hooked up to the taps upstairs. The operation is a branch of Vintage One, an urban winery based in the Junction.

Starting February 20, Gusto 101 will serve lunch, and brunch will follow in March. Come April, the restaurant’s huge 90-seat rooftop patio will open for dining or drinks, along with a streetside patio facing Portland.

Gusto 101, 101 Portland St., 416-504-9669,

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  • CuliNerd

    Wow, Beautiful and prices seem very on point especially in the “Area” it is in. Will be checking it out.

  • Mia

    I checked this place out last Thursday and thought it was decent. The decor is very nice and I am sure I will love the patio come the summer time but the food and drinks were just okay, nothing special. The servers take your order on an iphone which completely slows down the process – every server I saw seemed flustered and confused when trying to get the order in.

  • Deb

    We loved our dinner. I had the fish entree from the wood fire oven and it was delicious.The skin was crispy with a refreshing citrus flavor, very good.
    They also sell organic olive oil made by the owner and when i enquired about it, our server brought us a sample dish with bread. It had such a light fresh taste, i purchased some to take home. We had a great experience and the place filled up quickly with a full bar crowd waiting for a table. Would go back for sure!

  • Diane

    I can’t believe this….. this restaurant will not take reservations. Who says the restaurant business is suffering??? They even refused to take a credit card to hold a table of 10 for me. Well, they have lost my business that’s for sure!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Juilia

    They don’t need your business Diane, the place is packed every night.

  • Darren

    Diane, lots of places don’t take reservations. Try lining up at Guu for 45 minutes – that’s what everyone else does.

  • alan serpa

    Been hanging here since it opened and all I’ve seen is it getting worse in service and in food particularly. We ordered some food were having about a few hundred dollars in wine and a few other people showed up they got served before us our pizza’s never showed up. The bartender was apologetic and didn’t charge us for the pizza’s that never showed up. WOW what a revelation. This place might have the ambiance, the look at me types and the occasional series of MILF’s but honestly this place is pretty bad for food and service. Only come here if you want to drink and be scene. This is not a serious restaurant and is a joke when it come to true gastronomical experience. There are many restaurants in Toronto that are a much better value, better food and better service. Do not come here to enjoy food and have a good time. The bad service and lateness on food will kill you. Too bad because in King West there aren’t too many cool places and as cool as this it, it falls short on so many levels. DON”T WASTE YOUR TIME HERE.

  • john

    Completely agree with alan, just cam out of a meal that took us 3hrs from start to finish. Had to wait an hour to get seated and then another for our food to arrive. Never have I heard of a meal taking an hour to get ready.

    Waiter was apologetic and discounted the biLl by 50%. He also made sure to mention it about a dozen times that he worked hard to get us the discount.

    Food was ok, but nothing to write home about. Definitely not worth the wait.

    Like alan said, plenty of restaurants downtown provide MUCH better value.