If you're checking out all of the changes the stretch of Broadway between Second and Alameda Avenues has experienced in the past couple of years, be sure you don’t overlook Gozo. With the alluring words kitchen, wine and cocktails painted over the big front window, you'll think, "Hey, I like all of those things.” But the name of the restaurant is nowhere to be found, which can be a little confusing. Go inside anyway; you will soon be delighted by the welcoming environment, great decor, incredibly friendly staff and tantalizing aromas that can only mean delicious food. It doesn't hurt that in a bar and eatery zone that definitely skews bro on weekends, you won't see anybody pounding shots at the bar. Word has gotten around about this little gem and the place gets buzzing even on weekend nights, so arrive early to avoid a wait.
Once you find yourself seated and exploring the menu, you may notice that many of the piccolo plates appear vegetarian-friendly and pizzas are always a great option, but that the pasta and grande options are definitely meat-centric. Talk to your server before ordering; the staff is well versed in the ingredients and preparations of each dish. Following this approach, I was steered toward orecchiette by our knowledgeable waiter, Jonah.
Orecchiette — "little ears" in Italian — are oval pasta shapes dented in the center, which give them the appearance of tiny ears. Even if the name of the pasta is difficult to to pronounce, Gozo's version makes for easy eating — so much so that you might feel a little Mike Tyson as you bite into each tender ear. Tossed with autumn squash, kale and leaves of Brussels sprouts, the dish is perfect for sharing if you're exploring the menu but is filling enough to work as a main for one person. The toothsome squash never approaches mushiness and gives the dish more sustenance than just a plate full of pasta, and the balance of vegetables paired with the orecchiette means you're not just getting a typical starchy pasta bowl. Sprinkled with freshly grated cheese to top it off, this meal gets the vegetarian seal of approval in both flavor and heartiness categories.
If you’re looking for a spot to take your parents while they’re in town, trying to impress a date or looking for a place to have a birthday dinner with a few friends, Gozo is a great choice without the usual noisy din of many of Broadway's hip establishments. Despite a menu heavy on wood-oven meats, the kitchen is also able to satisfy vegetarian tastes — and that's an earful of good news.