Looking for a quick dinner in New Westminster we came to Gino’s on an recommendation when in the area. Sunday night proved to be slow. The streets were empty and the restaurant only sat three tables, majority of which were outside on the covered patio out front. We were table number four.
Not much to describe. The restaurant proudly displayed its age, established in 1972 and the wear of the room echoed that truth. Though nothing their fresh coats of paints and well maintain seats couldn’t have you over looking. Inside, black tables and brown booths lined the hardwood floor. On the white walls separated by brown trim hug black and white photographs and pictures painted in colour.
We went in and approached the hostess booth upfront only to request for a seat outdoors. The patio was separated from the side walk by a wall at mid height. It allowed you to be seen and to see, pedestrians strolling by on their evening walks. The roof shielded you from the elements and the heat lamps would keep you warm should you need it. The brick fireplace towards the back was more for show, its mouth filled with greenery, as other plant life sat on its mantle and made their home all around. Similarly was the television perched above. Switched on but left unfollowed with a portion of its led screen left stained or damage.
Each white table was set modestly with an unlit tea light in a cylindrical votive and a caddy of salt and pepper packets. Right when you opened the menu a coloured invitation to celebrate your party at Gino’s popped up. It suggested they were the place to go to from birthdays of all ages to retirements and goodbyes; even the destination for graduations and christenings. Though their daily food and drink specials available all days of the week hoped to bring you in sooner. Highlighted on the menu and flagged on the awning as its own banner. They were definitely giving you multiple reasons to come back. Pasta Tuesdays had all their pasta dishes for $7.75 and Thursday Greek nights gave you a choice of any entree for $10.95, regularly $15.95-16.95.
Though despite all their tempting, tonight they were sadly out of the Sunday roast special. I would have been able to choose between roast beef, chicken, or lamb with all the trimmings. Considering the slower traffic I was surprised they were out by 8pm. Our waitress referred me to the roast lamb entree instead. Just as well, it is what I always get and what I wanted now.
Our sides of garlic bread and pita came first. Served together in a bread basket with a shaker of chilli flakes and powdered Parmesan. I would have preferred it with our actual meal as apposed to before it. I wanted the pita with tzatziki and my guest wanted his garlic bread dipped into tomato sauce.
The “roast lamb” was a shoulder cut marinated with Greek spices, and served with lemon oregano roast potatoes, rice, Greek salad, tzatziki and pita bread. By look and taste this was pretty standard. It has everything that I expected else where, with all the usual accompaniments. Mid way through I did notice the oil slick that sat at the bottom of my plate. The rice clumped saturated in grease and I tasted it. Overall it was good, but nothing had it standing out over its competitors. The portion was not even as large as those of other places. You got a nugget of a potato served whole, instead of two halves of a larger spud, despite the menu suggesting that you would get “potatoes”. The salad was not enough to be called a side portion though to my delight it was served room temperature and coated generally in feta. Though at $15.95 this was one of the least expensive priced lamb entrees. I guess you get less for paying $2 less.
A large “baked lasagna” in a meat sauce. It wasn’t short on melted mozzarella cheese evident by the pool of grease that slicked its surface. Digging in this was more a bowl of noodles than that of layered pasta, it looked like a pizza after all. The lasagna was present, but it held nothing between its noodles, no spinach no ricotta, not even the meat. Despite the plethora of sauce the dish was bland, almost plain; it need more seasoning, some kick to it. I wasn’t even able to spot any herbs in the sea of red. Its watery texture had us scooping out any excess. Although this was just ground beef, pasta, mozzarella, and tomato sauce.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
My experience and food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I wouldn’t make a trip out for generic Greek and bad Italian. Not so much a destination, but more there if you need it. Though for the community with no other restaurant like it around I could see its popularity, and possibly an explanation of its long standing success. Don’t deny your cravings.