Gusto Italiano‘s, ‘Taste of Italy’ Night is an event hosted by Mario Olianos held at Lazy Lounge on Wellington Street. It’s a monthly feast I’ve wanted to go to for AGES, after reading wonderful things about the evening from Leeds blogger Where’s Lisa. Luckily, Mario was in search of local bloggers to attend last Thursday, so I duly attended with my friend Alice.
All the food is lovingly prepared by Mario, a Sardinian native, who you may have seen selling his Italian produce at Briggate Farmers market.
Being a believer in collaborating with other independents Mario invites a local food hero to each event. This months guest was Adam Thur from The Pastry Stall and previous guests have included Costello’s Bakery, The Yummy Yank and George & Joseph.
Mario lays all the food out in a corner of the Lazy Lounge upstairs mezzanine, and even though I’d seen photos on Twitter before, it didn’t prepare me for the reality of it. This was like a foodie dream come true!!
Mario happily talked us through the buffet and spoke with passion about what comes naturally; generously feeding people who love food (much of it homemade) with simple flavours which reflect his homeland.
There was a beautiful array of Italian, and in particular Sardinian treats for both meat and non-meat eaters, with the whole idea of grazing. Including bruschetta topped with aubergine and tomato which were showed off on a mirrored table. Great, simple flavours done well!
An incredibly enjoyable frittata which was thin and light and a generous platter of three meats – Parma ham, Mortadella and Salami Napoli.
A vibrant homemade salad – Polpa di Granchi alla Catalana made with crab stick was a revelation, it was light, but still flavourful from red onion, tomatoes and shredded crab running through it.
Mario’s an artisan who produces his own cheese using Yorkshire produce, and in an impressive line-up brought along three homemade Pecorino cheeses at 10, 20, and 30 days old. I’m not the biggest cheese fan and even I found myself enjoying them; lovely and creamy, complementing the rest of the dishes well. In addition, there were also two mature Pecorino cheeses giving plenty of choice.
Mario’s homemade Carta di Musica, a flat bread who’s name comes from being paper-thin, allowing sheet music to be read through it before being cooked.
A selection of sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and balsamic glazed baby onions, as well as a freshly made Caprese salad to add a whole host of flavours and textures to your plate.
With freshly made Margherita pizzas from neighbours Primo, there was LOTS of potential to become incredibly full with the feast in front of us.
As you can imagine it was difficult not to indulge, but of course there had to be room to sample the stunning patisserie made by Adam from The Pastry Stall. It all looked picture perfect, and my photos don’t do them justice in the slightest.
Everything was absolutely exquisite and beautifully made; lemon meringue pies with perfect balance of sharp lemon with sweetness from the meringue.
The macaron were TO DIE FOR!!! A lovely size, completely melt in the mouth and not too sweet. Fresh fruit tartlets filled with creme patisierre were also a complete winner.
A Straciatella cheesecake which I heard was a total winner of a dessert, with chocolate covered popping candy. Thom is obviously a very talented pastry chef!
The evening is an absolute bargain for £10.99 and you can eat as much or as little as you want, but believe me you’ll find yourself going for seconds because it’s just so yummy! I wasn’t the only one to think so, as there were a number of regulars who are completely hooked on Mario’s food and buy in 100% to his passion for feeding people with wonderful produce.
The evening was ALL about enjoying wonderful food, with like-minded people who love the good things in life – good conversation and great authentic food.
What another fantastic example of independent businesses collaborating together for the greater good. Booking on one of Mario’s ‘Taste of Italy’ events is a fantastic idea for lovers of great food and conversation in a relaxed setting. A well of the Gusto Italiano evening, Mario also hosts Cena Sarda where guests are treated to a traditional Sardinian meal, which many of the guests I met on Thursday said is a MUST!!
I definitely recommend Gusto Italiano ‘Taste of Italy’!!
Food: Delicious, authentic, lots of homemade produce, caters for meat-eaters and non-meat eaters with ease.
Atmosphere: Lovely relaxed atmosphere, ideal for meeting other food lovers.
Value for money: A bargain for the quality of food.Gusto Italiano ‘Taste of Italy’ Lazy Lounge Wellington St Leeds West Yorkshire LS1 4JY 0113 244 605 http://lazy-lounge.com