That was five years ago and Barkly Village has grown on me. We lost our bakery and our bank, but Aangan has grown from a little seed of a shop to a great restaurant. Perhaps inspired by its success, more Indian grocers and restaurants have moved in and every year the local Neighbourhood House runs a fabulous Diwali festival to celebrate our Little India right here in West Footscray. We still have a proper old-school op shop as well as a great library and new street trees.
Still, there is much work to be done and hence the arrival of Gusto at Barkly - wine bar, cafe and gourmet pizza shop - was sweet water to the parched throats of West Footscray residents. It's on the old site of Mama Theresa's, a fairly unremarkable traditional pizza shop which I think may have now moved to Newport.
The decor is classic inner-city cafe with exposed brick, communal table, interesting mags and lovely long-stemmed wine glasses. I love the arty bulldog banner. The owners are West Footscray locals and I feel that while Gusto may look like many other chic eateries around town, it's firmly grounded in the Western suburbs.
Eggplant chips, $10
These were great! The eggplant was soft, meaty and amazingly not at all oily. The crunchy coating was perfectly crisp and non-greasy. Swiped through the garlic mayo, they were delish.
This salad was substantial but lacked some zing - the feta was surprisingly quite mild (too mild for my taste) and the dressing was also a bit light. While they were delectable whole baby ones, there were too many olives all clustered at the bottom of the dish - I mean probably more than 20!
"The Gusto", $15.50
Gusto's signature pizza was excellent - small pieces of roasted pumpkin that were not at all overpowering, mild goat's cheese, wafer-thin zucchini and sweet caramelised onion. The pine nuts were a fabulous textural accent. Despite the presence of ingredients that can easily become overpowering, like pumpkin and pesto, it was very well balanced, with a tasty, well-made crust. An impressive five out of all of their ten gourmet pizzas are vegetarian. Get in early as they do tend to run out of dough quite regularly it seems, based on both my own experience and what I have read online.
Cheers to good coffee, too - a well-rounded, chocolatey blend from Coffee Supreme served at the perfect temperature. The froth was a little sparse but it really was a very nice latte. Gusto are soon to open daytime and have a spacious outdoor seating area perfect for those with pooches.
Sidewalk cafes - check. Shops selling objets - there is a fabulous new shop called Post Industrial Design run by a local sculptor and his partner coming to the old computer shop, further down Barkly Street towards Ashley. They will be opening later this month - watch that space!
Baker with finger bun - ok, not really. Unless it were a sourdough bun, perhaps!
Gusto at Barkly
587 Barkly Street, West Footscray (map)
Phone: 9396 1755
Hours: Tues - Sun 5pm - 10pm (til 11 pm Fri & Sat)
BYO only at this stage - $3 corkage per head
Level entry plus spacious outdoor seating