Guam Diner Bytes: Gabriel's House of Pasta
It has been some time since we last visited Gabriel’s House of Pasta. This place has managed to remain viable since opening over 6 years ago. They don’t sell wine or beer, however, you can bring your own bottle and there is a slight corkage fee. Since I’ve not written about Gabriel’s for a few years, there have been many inquiries by people who’ve gone there asking if I’d been there or done a write up. If you’ve read my previous writing, you’ll have noted that one of the driving forces in this restaurant was then co-partner/chef Joe Borja, whose passion and zeal seemed to exceed his hefty girth! When Joe and co-partner/owner Erica Taijeron parted ways, the restaurant remained open and operated with other cooks who really never could fill Joe’s culinary boots!
We stopped by recently to try out some of the menu items. When we arrived, almost all the seats and tables were filled. It is a small restaurant, yet people kept coming in over the course of our visit. We had to modify some of the menu items to suit Zee’s Vegetarian preferences. The Insalata Verde - tossed greens covered with a wheel of vegetables and mozzarella cheese with a side of roasted pepper vinaigrette ($9.25) didn’t have the Mozzarella. I would have preferred that the dressing was on the side as there was too much on the salad.
The next appetizer was the Mussels Bianco which are whole mussels sauteed with garlic and onions then simmered in white wine and herb butter ($12). I remember this dish as being exceptionally flavorful, however, for some reason the taste was muted, almost understated with watery broth. I was a bit surprised by this and also by the mussels, which didn’t have the same texture, nor color, as the previous ones. These seemed a less expensive mussel that came out a little mushy.
If there’s one thing that Gabriel’s still does as good as they used to, that would be their Garlic Bread Basket, featuring bread smothered in herb garlic butter then lightly toasted and topped with shredded parmesan cheese ($4.50). We ordered half with cheese and the other with out. I don’t think any else had garlic toast/bread to match Gabriel’s...it’ll change the way you breathe and smell!!
Another appetizer I tried was the Sausage Marsala (spicy), which has sliced Italian sausage sauteed with onions, bell peppers, pepper flakes, garlic then flavored with Marsala wine served with Garlic Bread ($10.00). This was a fairly tasty dish and I was feeling better after my first few experiences.
For my main course, I had the Pasta Giuseppe (spicy), which is similar to the Sausage Marsala, but with a different sauce. The Pasta Giuseppe also has sliced Italian sausage sauteed with bell peppers, pepperoni, garlic, onions, mushrooms and anchovies then tossed with linguini ($11.75). This dish has all the elements to make it work and it was quite good and definitely will fill you up especially after having two loaves of bread!
Zee’s main course was the Puttanesca (Spicy) sauteed garlic, kalamata olives, pepper flakes, capers and anchovies in a white wine tomato broth over linguini ($10). She seemed to like it, though I don’t know how much anchovy they put in there. One of the dishes I have to try on a future visit is their Fettuccini Alfredo, which I remember as one of the island’s richest and thickest! Also, I was impressed with their family-style dining version of spaghetti with their Lady and The Tramp - 2 soups, 2 salads, 1 large bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, and a slice of New York Style Cheesecake for $26.00! That’s a deal!
Ken Stewart ”The Guam Food Guy”
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