A new restaurant is open for business in Riverbank and if you enjoy authentic Italian cuisine and lots of menu choices, then L’Gusto Cucina Italiana just may be the place for you. Owner, Executive Chef, and Bakery Chef Sergio Alonso has truly made L’Gusto a family affair.
The fine dining establishment has white tablecloths and a bar where they offer wine and beer. The entire family assisted in the remodel of the restaurant which included the patio, dining room, adding booths, painting, lighting, and the kitchen, among other renovations. Alonso has three daughters that assist in the front of the house and his wife helps in the back. His son Sergio Jr. is 10 years old and lends a hand whether he is sweeping or assisting the chef.
Many locals are familiar with the coffee cup marker along Atchison Street in Riverbank and have seen many different restaurants come and go through there. Alonso has heard the stories about the turnover but has high hopes for L’Gusto and plans to be there for a very long time.
“I see a lot of cars passing by every day,” said Alonso about the location. “I wanted to open something small. I am going to change it (bad vibes). I am going to make this place a great location. So families can come here for family dinners for many years.”
Alonso has been in the restaurant industry for about 28 years where he spent about 10 years at a 5 star restaurant in the Bay Area and a number of years working at his brother’s restaurants in Modesto. His brothers own Papapavlo’s Mediterranean Bistro and Bar and Papapolloni Mediterranean Bistro which was also in Oakdale but has since closed there. Alonso knows the menus very well at those restaurants and has brought a few of their dishes to the menu at L’Gusto.
They opened on July 1 and already have regulars along with some local customer favorites on the menu. Some of those items are the Lasagna Bordelaise, gourmet pizzas, seafood pasta and a chopped chicken salad. They offer homemade soups like clam chowder, lemon chicken, and minestrone as well as salads. Some of the pastas on the menu are chicken fettuccini Alfredo, Chef’s Choice, Spaghetti Bolognese, Mediterranean Chicken, Chicken Pomodoro, and beef or seafood raviolis. A few entrees on the menu are Peppercorn ribeye, lamb chops, and pistachio crusted salmon.
“I like what I do,” stated Alonso. “I just enjoy cooking. It feels good when people like my plates. We have a nice selection and we can make whatever they want. Come try my food and I know you will come back.”
Those that know that Alonso opened his own restaurant are delighted to see him at the new location and ask for some of their favorite dishes from the former restaurants. He has experience catering and doing banquets for different events including weddings.
There are several options for those that want a little something sweet after dinner as well, like the Tiramisu, Crème Brulee, Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse, and Spumoni. All desserts are made from scratch in house by Alonso.
With employees being difficult to come by these days the restaurant is only open for dinner from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Once they have a bigger staff they will open for lunch and dinner.
“I like that I get to work with my family especially my dad,” expressed Alonso’s daughter Natalie. “He worked really hard for this place. It is nice to see him following his dreams.”
For a little entertainment before the meal Natalie suggests the flaming cheese that comes with freshly made pita bread.
With no other Italian restaurants to compete with in Riverbank, a passion for cooking, and love for family, Alonso is hopeful that even through some challenging times L’Gusto is here to stay.