I love the whole continental cafe culture – eating al fresco, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, sipping a cappuccino and watching the world go by. However, this is England and the weather looks a bit murky this morning, but hopefully it will brighten up by the time I visit Gusto Italian Delicatessen and Italian Caffe in Cheltenham’s fashionable Montpellier later today.
It’s 2.00pm and Gusto is buzzing. Full of ladies who are still lunching and I am thoroughly enjoying my coffee while chatting to the aptly named Rachel Cappuccini.
Gusto, she tells me, opened in May 2006 as a deli / take-away with a bias towards all things Italian. There was at the time a gap in the market for good coffee, homemade cakes and high quality sandwiches and salads. Five years later and Rachel and business partner Gavin Thompson are still sticking to those principles. They have kept the same suppliers as they had then and always use simple, fresh, good quality ingredients.
Their main philosophy is still ‘high quality fresh food’. They try to absorb price increases wherever possible but quality must always come first, Rachel tells me. Her background is in quality food and she worked for the Consortium of Parma Ham Producers and Parmesan Cheese Producers before running the Lamb Inn in Burford, where Gavin was the General Manager. He is brilliant at organising events and training staff, says Rachel, it’s his attention to detail that allows her to focus on the food. It took a year to find the right location but Montpellier is perfect. Rachel now lives here with her two boys aged 12 and five.
One of Rachel’s bugbears is the poorly made coffee you are served in many establishments and at Gusto they make it the way they do in Italy. But it’s not just about the coffee. Gusto uses Italian artisan products like the traditional pasta made in London by an Italian family and the gorgeous ice cream which is delivered once a week. Fruit, veg and meat all come from local sources and the jams, marmalade and mostarda (like a chutney with chilli and mustard) are made by a local lady.
Gusto has a 36-seater cafe upstairs as well as the outside seating open for breakfast, lunch and light snacks throughout the day. In the evening it is available for private hire. There is also a supper club on the first Thursday of every month.
Three years ago Rachel and Gavin launched ‘Gusto at Home’ which now accounts for 60% of their turnover. The idea was initially the chef coming to your home and cooking supper for you and your guests, but they now run a full bespoke outside catering service for events such as weddings, lunches and birthday parties. Gusto is also the sole caterer for ‘Sophie Conran at Temple Guiting’ which can be hired by individuals or companies for bespoke country house parties.
Gusto is located at 12 Montpellier Walk, Cheltenham GL50 1SD Tel: 01242 239111.
Opening hours are: Monday - Friday: 9.00am - 5.30pm,
Saturday: 8.30am - 5.30pm and Sunday: 10.00am - 4.00pm.
The website can be found at www.gusto-deli.com