Tucked away in a hiding spot so common to many Vaughan venues (that is, an industrial park), sits Al Gusto– restaurant, pizzeria, gelateria, bakery, cafe, etc. This multi-purpose venue offers you everything you crave all in one spot with the added convenience of being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (a notable difference when comparing it to most other neighbourhood bakeries that close no later than 8pm).
Nostalgic for Europe, as always, and anxious for a gelato experience to allow my taste buds to reminisce the way my mind does constantly, I made my first visit to Al Gusto with great friend Alessandra Nicole. I must say, when I first entered I was slightly disappointed. At first look, the large size and serene-ness of the place did not bring me back in time or evoke any sense of familiarity. But a closer examination proved me wrong. Not only does the pastry counter offer every traditional delicacy imaginable like canoli and mini tiramisu (were my eyes fooling me, or did I miss out on the cornetti?) but the gelato bar is fully stocked with both classic flavours like Nocciola, Amaretto, Fragola and Banane and the less common selections of Kinder and Fior di Latte. Not only iss the bar obviously accented with oak wood, but the shelves that line the mirrored walls are faced with bottles of spirits, wines and liqueurs and, of course, boxes of Baci chocolate.
The cozy clustered cafe tables in the front of the restaurant are home to a wide range of guests on this rainy Tuesday evening–a pair of girlfriends catching up, a large group of young parents and their children, several mid-older couples, and a group of young espresso-sparkling-water-drinking men. The typical crowd, familiar decor, predictable menu and delicious cappuccinos painted a beautiful picture of a night in Roma (with the added bonus of a young staff with, get this, authentic, straight from the home-land accents, working alongside their elderly parents). I indulged in a banana-stracciatella mixture (my two ultimate faves) while Ale opted for a chocolaty mixture of banana and Bacio. Both were a pleasant serving size and both came with brightly coloured wafer rolls (to be enjoyed as a mixture of crunchy and creamy). Despite an educational conversation on the Canadian music industry with Ale (aspiring Canadian girl-group artist from Queen of Hearts, check them out at http://www.queenofheartsmusic.com/), our cappuccino mugs and gelato cups were quickly emptied (and by emptied I mean licked clean).
Although, the experience did allow me a quick peek down memory lane, lingering patrons reminded me that, in harsh reality, we were not in Italy and gelatos-to-go in colourful coppas were not to be enjoyed on cobblestone streets that did not await us outside…ahh, some things just aren’t replaceable.
Al Gusto is located at 8099 Weston Rd (between Highway 7 and Langstaff) with an additional entrance from Jevlan. In addition to its cafe brimming with sweet treats, Al Gusto is also a pizzeria, salumeria and full-service ristorante with a tavola calda and pane.