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Gusto Knutsford – It has your name on it.

So, I had just fathomed the meaning of Est Est Est, and what do they do? Change the name. At first I shook my head. We Brits are notoriously resistant to change. But, fearing narrow-mindedness to be a most unattractive quality, I accepted the kind invitation of the new management to dine chez eux (sadly my Italian doesn’t match my French).

You don’t notice much to begin with. Same building, same layout, new paint… (Is that undercoat, my companion wondered?) But the differences, or shall we say nuances, become clear once you sit down.

The newly refurbished GUSTO feels like a slicker version of the old favourite.

Still atmospheric, still bustling, still sexily-lit. The staff are flamboyant, (I once described them, rather prophetically, as wielding their giant pepper mills con gusto!) the whole experience theatrical. It’s as close was we can get to Italian dining without air travel. So, what’s the story?

Basically, Living Ventures, the restaurant and bar company who developed The Living Room, has invested over £5 million in rebranding the existing Est Est Est restaurants into GUSTO: Italian for taste and enjoyment.

Wisely, they have kept the staples for which the old place was renowned – plenty of pasta and pizza, salads and nibbles, and added some heftier choices – five kinds of steak and a range of fresh seafood to rival Loch Fyne. If the choice gets too much there are some well-priced set menus and a tempting fixed-price lunch (to rival La Belle Époque?) They’ve extended the con amici menu and installed a fab new family/friends dining space downstairs. There’s a new children’s menu (retaining the ever popular make your own pizza) and even a Baby Deli – 100% organic dining for those under 10 months – whatever next?! The company philosophy is ‘to include all members of the family’; with dishes such as Rosy Posy Pasta I give them a gold star for effort. Add to this a summer healthy-choice menu, buckets-full of cocktails and free wi-fi access and GUSTO has something for everyone.

Personally, I just wanted to sit on the terrace with a glass of chilled Pinot and pretend I was in Italy.
I also felt like gathering my friends and family together to let them know I love them. Instead, I went home and put some twinkly lights round my bay tree.

So, if you have a big family or small children, if you’re watching your weight or your wallet, if you love seafood or just food, this place has your name on it.
Let it inspire you to try new things, embrace change and find some Latin spirit.

Or, as they say, live life with GUSTO.


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