ILNews

Sidebars: Gamba Ristorante consistently top notch

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Indiana Lawyer Commentary

SidebarsBe it your law practice, your favorite athlete or sports team, your relationships, or a restaurant, consistent quality is the true measure of any endeavor. Anybody can have a good day and hit a bull’s-eye once and a while out of sheer luck. To keep hitting that target repeatedly is the challenge, especially with the inevitable bad day sprinkled in.

For approximately 20 years, Benito and Hilda Gamba have hit bull’s-eye after bull’s-eye. Starting with Café Venezia in the late 1980s, and then branching out with Venezia Grill in the 1990s, the Gambas delivered top-notch Italian cuisine. That tradition continues with Gamba, a custom-built facility that combines the better of their past two restaurants in Merrillville, Indiana.

A mid-morning court appearance in a neighboring county placed me in perfect position to join my lifelong friend, Mark Thiros, of Merrillville’s Thiros & Stracci, for lunch at Gamba. Any occasion to visit with Mark is a good one, and one-on-one over a quality two-hour lunch is about as good as it gets, even sans wine. But let’s talk about the experience.

As I said, this is a custom-built facility that, at first blush, seems a bit oddly shaped. It is a round building with the restaurant and bar areas flanking the outside portions of the perimeter while nestled in the core is the kitchen and banquet facility. Modeled after upscale European restaurants, this wonderfully efficient design can manage plenty of restaurant seating along with a banquet of up to 200 people, plus about 1,000 bottles of wine storage. In the center is an open courtyard, adding to the charm of the building.

After being greeted by a smiling hostess and immediately seated, our wait-staff placed a basket of warm baguette slices on the table with rich, firm butter and a clear glass bowl of sliced Serrano peppers soaked in olive oil. While appearing intimidating, the latter really isn’t. The peppers aren’t in the oil long enough to noticeably affect the flavor, but if you wanted to add a little flair to your bread you are welcome to pile on as many peppers as you like. This touch provided a uniquely pleasant way to open the meal.

For starters, Mark ordered the split pea with mushroom soup while I chose the pasta fagioli. I’m not a split pea soup guy but my sample of Mark’s gave me pause to change my belief. The subtle mushroom flavor fully added to the rich fresh pea-based puree. My soup was unlike my native Italian grandmother’s. Hers was chicken-broth based with stewed tomatoes, spinach, beans and pasta. Gamba’s version is vegetable-broth based without tomatoes. At the waitress’ suggestion I requested fresh spinach in my bowl and after adding a dollop of the Serrano infused olive oil I nearly had a meal.

I selected the Grilled Mahi Mahi with Brandy Cream Sauce for my entrée while Mark picked the Spicy Spaghetti. Each choice was from the daily special menu or, for you Italian speakers, the Speciali Del Giorno. My dish was simple yet elegantly presented. The grilled fish was outstanding and its flavor was able to hold its own balanced against the sauce. Far too often lesser restaurants tend to overly drape a dish like this in its sauce in an effort to disguise poor quality seafood. Such is not the case at Gamba. Mark’s pasta was laced with chicken, diced tomato, crushed red pepper, garlic, olive oil and finally finished with an arugula pesto. Bright and flavorful, Mark was pleased overall with his selection and after I sampled it we shared the same criticism. The pasta was slightly undercooked, even by al dente standards. That is one small flaw that can be easily fixed so I offer no gavel reduction for that slight mishap by the chef.

Only about a mile from I-65, make this your luncheon or dining choice if you are ever in the Lake County area. Of the dozen or so times I’ve dined at one of the Gamba’s restaurants over the years, I’ve never had a bad experience. Benito “Benny” Gamba is always there, gracing your table to make sure you are satisfied. If you go, call Mark. It’s one of his favorite spots too. Gamba Ristorante, 455 East 84th Drive, Merrillville, IN. 219.736.5000. www.gambaristorante.com•

Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. The opinions expressed in this column are the authors’.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

  3. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

ADVERTISEMENT