Ballantyne Magazine

SPRING 2016

Ballantyne Magazine covers news, events, real estate, restaurants, shopping, health, schools and business in the upscale Ballantyne Area of Charlotte, NC.

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Eating with Gusto! Pasta and Tapas Restaurant Serves Fresh, Flavorful Food By Amy Rogers Photos by Ray Sepesy IT'S NO SECRET THAT TAPAS ARE TRENDY RIGHT NOW. These small plates of Spanish meats, cheeses and vegetables are especially popular with cosmopolitan diners in urban settings. But area residents might not yet know that Gusto is taking that citifed experience and re-creating it in the suburbs of Ballantyne. The restaurant combines a casual environment and modern decor with fresh and favorful food. Rather than mimicking the heavy menu and lengthy pace of formal "white tablecloth" dining, Gusto focuses on fast service times that appeal to families, business people and others on the go. There's lots of activity: cooks bustle in the open kitchen next to a section of counter seating where guests can watch the action; chefs prepare dough in an alcove with a picture window; the Wood Stone oven crackles as it bakes handmade pizzas and calzones. Eclectic Menu Chef Gonzalo Lopez is well known for his work in fne-dining restaurants around Charlotte. He oversees the evolving and eclectic menu. Most any kind of pasta imaginable can be created: beet, zucchini and squid ink are just a few varieties from a rainbow of choices made in-house. Tapas can be endlessly crafted to suit most palates, even particular ones. Salads range from old-school Caesar to creative combinations of baby kale and beets or a quinoa tabbouleh that's gluten free. (Plenty of items are vegetarian or gluten free; each is marked on the menu. There's a kids' menu, too.) Best of all, adventurous diners won't feel limited, and less daring guests won't feel overwhelmed. Sangria drinkers can take their glasses embellished with the Gusto name home as a souvenir of the fun. General Manager Anthony Garcia won't divulge the exact recipes he devised for the restaurant's signature blends because they're a long- standing family tradition. But he reveals that the mainstay begins with a base of sweet Spanish wine, which is then enhanced with brandy, triple sec, orange juice, cinnamon and other citrus favors. Weekend brunches feature a Bloody Mary and mimosa bar, along with live music for a jazzy experience. Comfortable Space At 4,500 square feet, Gusto occupies a large space, but it feels comfortable, not cavernous. It's smartly arranged with three private rooms that can be confgured for book clubs, corporate meetings up to 100 attendees, private parties — even an indulgent, leisurely dinner on a special occasion. The restaurant's patio is small and cozy. Owners Kristian and Carolyn Kellogg brought their sensibilities as self-proclaimed "impeccable foodies" to the restaurant (Kris confesses that as a perfectionist, what he does best is personify the "annoying customer who wants everything in their experience.") Construction started on the space, which didn't even have plumbing, in spring 2015, and the restaurant opened in October. Gusto has deliciously taken the "uptown" experience and brought it "downtown" to this enclave south of the city center. And that won't stay a secret for long. Gusto! Monday-Thursday - 11a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday - 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday - 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 14835 Ballantyne Village Way Suite 140, 28277 704-904-7455 www.gustoballantyne.com Owners Kristian and Carolyn Kellogg brought their sensibilities as self-proclaimed "impeccable foodies" to the restaurant. Chicken Manettone comes with oven-roasted lemon potatoes and asparagus. Gusto's space can be confgured for many occasions. BALLANTYNE MAGAZINE 49 SPRING 2016

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