RESTAURANT REVIEW: Il Gusto D’Italia

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston
Prawn and courgette linguine
Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston Prawn and courgette linguine
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The opening of this new Italian restaurant was delayed by legal wrangles surrounding its name.

But now Il Gusto D’Italia on Watery Lane, Ashton is open, we reviewed it to find out what it is like.

‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston
Chicken pasta starter

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston Chicken pasta starter

That Bill Shakespeare might not have been talking about Italian restaurants when he penned this immortal quote in Romeo and Juliet, but his words are just as apt and fitting.

After a legal wrangle with a national chain, the formerly named Gusto Italia has opened up its new restaurant Il Gusto D’Italia on Watery Lane in Preston in the empty building vacated by Ribble Cycles.

Having been regular visitors over the years to the Gusto Italia in Bamber Bridge over the years –which has also been forced to change its name to Il Gusto D’Italia after the name row – Hubby and I along with our two children were keen to give the new restaurant a try.

To be honest, we didn’t really care what the restaurant was called as long as the food and service was good. And we had always been impressed by the authentic Italian food and friendly service at the Bamber Bridge premises on School Lane and the new eatery has the bonus of being closer to home.

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston
King prawn starter

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston King prawn starter

On entering, we were immediately struck by how much bigger the restaurant is than the Bamber Bridge one which has more of a cosy cafe feel to it.

The refurbishment has been done to a high standard resulting in a modern yet homely interior with wooden floors, an impressive open kitchen with a gas fired pizza oven.

Vito Bruno, a former general manager for Paul Heathcotes The Olive Press, opened Gusto Italia in Bamber Bridge after wanting to put his knowledge and experience of local and fresh produce, quality ingredients and passion for food into his place.

The Bamber Bridge base operates mainly as a takeaway although there is facility for customers to eat in too. Vito and his business partner Antonio Costanza decided to open up the Watery Lane premises after getting requests to takeaway deliveries to Preston and Penwortham that they couldn’t fulfil.

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston
Stuffed mushrooms starter

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston Stuffed mushrooms starter

The new venue has plenty of seating over two floors and the walls are adorned with pictures that are truly Italian as they have been sent by friends from Italy.

The menu features all the favourites like at the Bamber Bridge restaurant including pizza and pasta, traditional Italian classics of lasagne and Sicilian specialities.

When visiting an Italian restaurant, many people face the dilemma of “pizza or pasta?” Which is why I always like places which offer the option of any of the pasta dishes as a starter portion.

Not only does this solve the predicament of what to order, it’s a great way of sampling pasta dishes to decide if you like them enough to order them as a main on a future visit.

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston
Capricciosa pizza

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston Capricciosa pizza

Hubby and I both plumped for pasta as a starter (£5.50) and were wowed by our choices.

I had the linguine with king prawns, courgette, garlic and chilli and it was absolutely delicious and a very generous portion. The pasta was perfectly cooked and although the king prawns were served in the tradition shell-on way, the shell came off easily and wasn’t fiddly or messy.

Husband Keith had the Rigatoni Pollo with basil pesto, chicken and a cream sauce. He described it as the tastiest pasta dish he had ever had and felt all the flavours worked fantastically together. He loved the creamy sauce so much, he was almost licking the plate and said he would definitely order it as a main course.

Our son who adores anything mushroom related ordered the mushrooms stuffed with garlic parmesan crumbs (£5.50). He received a good plateful and tucked in with enthusiasm telling us they were “delish”. He particularly liked the way the side salad had been arranged into a “smily face”.

His sister went for the king prawn starter with lemon, garlic and chilli jam. (£6.50). She needed a bit of help skinning her prawns but loved them and said the sauce they were in had plenty of flavour.

For main courses, pizza enticed the majority of us. When it comes to toppings, particularly different combinations from the usual, Il Gusto D’Italia has them all.

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston
Calzone pizza

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston Calzone pizza

I chose the 10inch Capricciosa (£8.95), which ham, artichokes, olives and mushrooms, although I asked for mine without the olives.

The pizza was perfectly cooked on a thin and even base with a beautifully tasty tomato sauce and was generously laden with the fresh toppings. If you’ve never tried artichokes on a pizza, do it. They taste divine.

Hubby went for the 10inch calzone with a choice of three fillings (£8.95) and chose chicken, mushrooms and sweetcorn.

The calzone looked like a giant pizza pasty. Although it looked slightly charred on top, he said this didn’t affect the taste and said it was delectable with plenty of tasty fillings in a flavour rich tomato sauce. Despite its large size, he soon demolished it.

Our children both ordered from the great priced children’s menu (£3.95). To further add to the amazing value, we discovered Kids Eat Free when an adult orders from the main menu every day and on Fridays and Saturdays until 6:30pm.

A six inch ham, cheese and tomato pizza was our daughter’s choice and it looked appetising and she gave it a big thumbs up.

Our lad had the traditional homemade lasagne and it was a decent portion for a child’s menu. It looked great and he concurred telling us it was a “really good lasagne.”

As well as tasty and filling food, we were impressed by the warm and inviting ambiance and the child-friendly environment.

The staff were all very attentive and were particularly good with our children enjoying plenty of chat and good natured banter with them throughout our stay.

Although we were too full for desserts, the children managed to squeeze in a bubblegum flavoured ice cream each and other flavours such as mango and passion fruit, marshmallow and After Eight sounded tempting.

The restaurant has a licence to serve alcohol although we just had a soft drink apiece. The bill was around £50 which was very reasonable.

We’ve already been back for the Early Bird two course menu for £9.95 which runs until 6pm Monday to Sunday and the quality of the food was just as good.

With Il Gusto D’Italia also running a lunchtime offer of any pasta or 10inch pizza for £3.95, we get the feeling we’re going to become regular visitors to this new Italian.

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston
Child's pizza

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston Child's pizza

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston
Child's lasagne

Il Gusto D'Italia, Watery Lane, Preston Child's lasagne