Gumba has one of those menus that just makes me want to order everything, from the signature handmade tagliatelle coated in rich egg yolk, topped with house-made burrata, and garnished with sesame seed bread crumbs to the sounds-weird-tastes-good dessert of olive oil cake topped with eggplant cooked in coffee caramel, dolloped with coffee whipped cream.
I recently stopped by Gumba’s new to-go-only digs at 1733 NE Alberta St, in the former Aviary space just steps away from the food cart the Gumba team moved out of this fall. The cart was named one of PoMo’s top five food carts of 2017. I was there for burrata pasta and eggplant cake, both solid as I’d expected, and also ended up ordering the mint- and yuzu-infused, ricotta-dotted ruffly, wide riccia noodles topped with crushed pistachios—kind of like an extra-bright, zesty pesto. I also added on an order of arancini on a whim, because I can never resist ordering arancini.
Here’s why these arancini are glorious: the crunchy fried shell of the exterior gives way to creamy risotto, and inside you’re met with a complex, intriguing push-pull of flavors. There’s the sweetness of butternut squash, the salty taleggio cheese, the earthy, vaguely umami cremini mushrooms, and a hint of floral goodness from truffle honey. I used to think the best arancini had to involve a filling of meaty tomato sauce and stretchy mozzarella cheese, but Gumba has proven me wrong. That said, I still haven’t tried Gumba’s famous Wednesday-only fried chicken sandwich, so I’m not quite ready yet to crown the arancini the winner of Gumba’s menu—but they're certainly a must-try when you're there.