Gran Gusto is incredibly unassuming in the best way. Tucked in a very residential area near Porter Square, it’s the only restaurant around for a few blocks. The street outside is so quiet, but you walk in, and the place is packed, bustling with people. Everyone working at the restaurant is Italian, with our waiter specifically from Florence. So, you know you’re in for a great meal.

We started off by sharing calamari and the arugula pizza. The pizza was classic Napolitan thin crust. Delish. I’d love to try the sorrentina which has smoked mozz, tomato, and eggplant. Then we all ordered pasta. We tried the paccheri with short rib ragu, puttanesca, scialatielli, pappardelle with lobster, and the special of the night which was carbonara. I think the clear winners were the two seafood pastas, the scialatielli and pappardelle. All the pasta is made in-house, but I favored those two varieties of pasta the best. We all know pappardelle [wide, flat noodles] but scialatielli is a square, thick noodle like a super large spaghetti. So chewy and good. On the menu, it says the pappardelle comes with 1/2 a Maine lobster and they are NOT messing around. As you can see from the photo below, the pasta was chock full of lobstah. The scialatielli was also brimming with seafood, in a really simple garlic + olive oil sauce that went so well with it.

The carbonara was also delish. Super creamy of course, but great flavor from the cheese and sauce – it wasn’t bland like an alfredo would be, which I feel like can happen sometimes when carbonara isn’t made right. I thought spaghetti worked really well for the carbonara, but not so much for the puttanesca. I would have liked the puttanesca much better with a different kind of pasta.

I would definitely recommend Gran Gusto to anyone looking for authentic, quality Italian food. And I love that it’s a nice place but is very low fuss. I recommend grabbing a res on OpenTable, but you might be able to get away with walking in.

The area around Porter seems to be a hotbed of delicious-sounding Italian places. The next two on my list are Posto and Giulia. Can’t wait to have finally tried all three, and determine my personal fave.