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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Italian West Village Moderate Great

I was prepared to like Gusto even before I got there. I knew the chef, Jody Williams, from Tappo, a short-lived Mediterranean spot styled in the form of a Tuscan farmhouse, located in the space that is now Hearth. I had some great meals there. Several with the ex-boyfriend, the one whom I now refer to as the eater of souls, the destroyer of hope, and the full blast, high-speed blender for my heart. Anyway, now that I am older and wiser, rather than seeking/deriving joy from romantic relationships and risking going through that ripe hell known as a break up (or was that breakdown) all over again, I tend to derive pleasure from meals shared with my girlfriends—Susie, Jamie, Stacey, Diana, Debbie, Cori, Kiri, Court, and Steven (well, the last two are not girls— they are my guy friends—but they count as girls for these purposes).

Anyway, I don’t want to make this all about me (well, really I do, but I won’t), so I will spare you the continued drama as my life as a less than fabulous version of Carrie Bradshaw (without the killer bod, the amazing shoes, the great apartment, or the boyfriend who realizes his mistakes and comes back) and continue with my review of Gusto, which I found to be as good as I expected (read: big fat smile on my face for most of the evening).

First, the space is hot. No, I don’t mean temperature hot, I mean it looks hot, and it makes you feel hot. It is contemporary, lean, and clean—an urban joint with white subway tiled floors, ebony velvet banquettes, a long white marble bar (where we drank several muddled strawberry and proseco cocktails), and modern lampshades layered in concentric circles—elements that help the room exude a sexy, glamorous sense of leisure. The owner, Sasha Muniak, who also owns Mangia, could have easily styled Gusto as another rustic Italian trattoria along the lines of Inotecca, Il Buco, Lupa and the like—wood tables, rustic accents, etc.—but instead he went the sleek route, building a room glorified in black and white and touched with the earth in small details—the exposed wood beams that are left raw against the bright white ceiling, the wide bowl piled high with heirloom tomatoes on the bar, that looks as though it just dropped out of a still life.

Like those tomatoes, chef Jody Williams’ food also takes on a stunning still life quality. Her fried artichokes could easily be the sitting subject of a painting by V ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in West Village :
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