Tomatoes Alone

Catch the love apple's high season at Gusto

Some of our favorite summer lunches have consisted of nothing more than sliced backyard tomatoes scattered with salt and splashed with olive oil.

We recently had a similarly spirited tomato-centric lunch, albeit one that involved meat and carbohydrates and actual cooking, at Vic Casanova's three-month-old Gusto.

You'll find red sauce on the Bronx-bred chef's menu throughout the year, as his hybridized Italian/Italian-American cooking is as reliant on tomatoes as any self-respecting nonna's is. But with the candy-apple red and bruised purple hues of the summer crop offering a sweet pop in a lunch-only dish of cold farro ($12) studded with cherry tomatoes, and a savory, salty edge in a burrata-draped salad ($13), Gusto is a tomato lover's dreamland.

Casanova's gravy, made from La Valle San Marzanos, anchors a number of the pizzas and some delicious meatballs (pictured; $13), but we recommend going the pasta route. As he showed at Culina, Casanova has a way with the simplest noodle dish: pasta with tomato sauce. At Gusto, it's knotty strands of fresh tonnarelli ($13 at lunch) slicked with pleasantly spicy sauce; it's a plate of pasta that could give Scarpetta a run for its money. 

Gusto, 8432 W. 3rd St., Mid-City; 323-782-1778 or gusto-la.com