When it opened in the summer of 2016, Gumba — a food cart serving handmade pastas — quickly turned heads. The pasta itself was great, but the way it was gussied up really brought people back: tagliatelle comes carbonara-style with house-made burrata and sumac, pappardelle in a beef short rib ragu gets the added oomph of duck fat and olives. Not to mention, the team was churning it all out of a small silver trailer on Alberta; what could those two do in a full-blown restaurant?
This month, people will find out: Gumba owners Jesse Martinez and Robin Brassaw will be moving their whole operation into a spacious restaurant down the street. The cart’s team will take over the newly empty Aviary space and turn it into a “pasta parlor,” complete with an industry bar and late-night snacks.
Food blogger and influencer Mrs. MFTasty, also known as Nicole Piech-Gitenstein, broke the news on her Instagram account yesterday, saying the restaurant would be “an industry hang out.” While moving into the space today, Martinez said that, in the beginning, not much will change between the experience at the cart and the restaurant. “A lot of changes will happen down the line, but it’s going to look a lot of the food cart: there will be a host set up to take your orders, you’ll be able to grab a table, the menu will be right there,” he said. The core menu will stay mostly the same — that tagliatelle and pappardelle will appear on the menu — but Martinez wants to buy a pasta extruder for more in-house noodles and add more entree-like dishes and small plates. The two will “dive up” the bar in the back, offering late-night snacks and drinks similar to some of the restaurant’s specials — the cart’s perpetually popular fried chicken sandwich may end up on that menu, for instance. As soon as they snag a liquor license, Brassaw will start to tackle the beer and wine list, eventually adding a full-blown cocktail menu.
As for the physical restaurant, the space won’t change much. “The restaurant itself is very nice — it’s a lot nicer than anything we were looking at,” Martinez said. “Our goal is to maybe, kind of, bring it down to our level... make it feel a little less swanky.” The restaurant will be counter-service, like the cart, which will help them keep prices where they were. “We’re not changing what we are,” Martinez said. “We definitely want to keep it at a certain price point, to keep it as a high-end, low-cost dining experience anyone can enjoy.”
Gumba will reopen this fall — ideally in two weeks, according to Martinez — at 1733 NE Alberta Street.