WHO’S IN CHARGE Owners Matteo and Francesca Ronzio — who relocated earlier this year from Italy — are seeking to create an Italian dining experience very different from the Italian-American cuisine familiar to New Englanders. Ronzio has no quarrel with dark restaurants that heavily rely on tomato sauce, but he wants Real Gusto Ristorante & Pizzeria — located in the former Bestsellers Café in Medford Square — to reflect the brilliant light of his homeland.
“We want to make people think they are at home in Italy,” he said. Ronzio aims to serve the kind of dishes currently enjoyed around Italian tables. The actual name of the restaurant — printed on the menu — is Real Italian Gusto, he said.
The Ronzios fell in love with Boston on vacation and decided to move here and open a restaurant/grocery. They’ve enlisted help from Italian friends and relatives: Ciro Langella, an expert pizza chef, chef Leonardo Cascitelli, and manager David Carosini.
The products sold are those used in meal preparation. Ronzio hopes patrons will be tempted to try some Italian cooking at home, although “some secrets we maybe don’t share.”
THE LOCALE No, really. This is it. This storefront on High Street really is the newest restaurant in Medford Center. It’s not a beauty salon, despite those dazzling white walls, white armchairs, white tables, and that blond-as-a-baby wood floor. What looks like hair products on the white shelves are neatly arranged jars and bottles of Italian foods. Go in, past a long counter, past the large brick pizza oven, and into the back dining area with its soothing view of the Mystic River. Even at night, the atmosphere is bright.
ON THE MENU Things are still a bit rough around the edges; service is friendly, if ragged. The restaurant, which can seat 54, opened just last month. The website is under construction, and Ronzio awaits final clearance on the liquor license.
Choose from antipasti, soups, and more than 15 kinds of pizza. The menu classifies the pizzas as red, white, “classic and historic,” and “Ciro’s Specials.” “White” is a bit misleading, said Ronzio, as it doesn’t quite capture the meaning of “Pizza Bianca,” which signifies without tomato sauce in Italian.
We sampled several pizzas: the classic Margherita ($13); the (white) Puglia ($18), with mozzarella, broccoli, sausage, spicy pepper, and basil; and the (red) Sicilia ($18), with mozzarella, grilled eggplant, zucchini, and basil.
Both toppings and sauce are sparely applied and the crusts were crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. There’s hardly any grease.
Another tasty choice was the Abruzzi, ($18), with mozzarella, pear, and walnuts. The Toscana ($16) came loaded with savory prosciutto and a sprinkling of basil and mushrooms.
Pasta choices include Arrabbiata ($18), hot tomato sauce with garlic, parsley, and chile peppers, and Bottarga ($25,) with dried mullet and garlic. Other Italian classics are represented: risotto, scaloppini, and chicken Milanese, with prices ranging from $18 to $25.
Desserts include a delectable torta del Giorna ($5.50) made with Nutella and decadent profiteroles, chocolate cream puff pastries ($8). The restaurant serves lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, closing for a couple hours in the afternoon for prep work. Just like in Italy.
Real Gusto Ristorante & Pizzeria, 24 High St., Medford, 781-396-1656.
Stephanie Schorow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.