Spicing things up

The new taste in town: authentic Indian food

TAKE A SEAT <br> Marcus Schmidt and Rachel Kagan cozy up to the couch at Guzzetti’s.

Marcus Schmidt and Rachel Kagan cozy up to the couch at Guzzetti’s.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Guzzetti’s Catering & Indian Food117 W. 14th Street. Open Wed.-Sun., 5-9 p.m. Catering available anytime. Phone: 896-1647.

Guzzetti’s Catering & Indian Food

117 W. 14th St.
Chico, CA 95928

(530) 896-1647

There was a void, a black hole, a collective need, a calling, but Chico finally has a new place for Indian cuisine. Why it has taken four long years since the closure of our last Indian food restaurant, I’ll never know.

Manager Amit Tandon saw the need and took the opportunity. You may have seen him at the Saturday market, urging his customers to taste all of his concoctions. This past summer, my partner asked Tandon if he planned on opening an actual restaurant in Chico. He said, “Yes, honey, we are opening a restaurant on 14th Street in the middle of October.”

Three months later, we’d forgotten. I sat fixed in a writer’s block moment on a recent evening and took a prolonged beer break. A delightful buzz crept into my head, along with a craving for Indian food. I remembered, and we headed down to the new Indian-food joint. The dead leaves ran right up to the door of Guzzetti’s catering/ take-out/café/cooking class. Officially, Tandon’s operation has acquired Guzzetti’s Catering. Yes, that Guzzetti’s.

But, other than the name and location, it’s a whole new story. I mean it’s real-deal Indian food. The tease of Tandon’s Saturday-market snacks was good fun, but it’s nice to really get to it. I ordered the (any) three-item plate and chose the alloo gobi (cauliflower, potatoes and spices), masala dal (lentils, tomatoes, onions and spices), and my favorite, tandoori chicken (bright red Indian-style barbecued chicken, marinated in yogurt), topped off with some spinach naan (Indian flatbread with a spinach filling).

It was overwhelming—a taste explosion. So many colors. So many spices. I looked at my partner. She looked at me. No words were exchanged. Everything moved so fast, with the help of some authentic Indian spiced chai. We ended the evening with a mango lassie, a creamy fruit drink that is a staple at refreshment stops throughout India. I wasn’t even hungry, but it tasted so good. I just had to suck it up.

Tandon is just as exciting as the food. He is eloquent, always moving, answering and discussing all of the details that go into the food and operation. We even got to check out the deep tandoor oven. Tandon took off the weighty iron cover, pointed inside and said, smiling and raising his eyebrows, “I slap the bread to the side, and I must pull my hand out fast. If you don’t, that’s it. It gets up to 800 degrees.”

The prices are fair, too. A three-item combo costs $6.99, four items, $8.99, and five will set you back $10.99. And a family variety take-home pack will cost you $14.99. The chutneys (tangy Indian sauces)—mango, mango ginger, basil and tomato—run $5 a jar. You can pick them up at the café, as well as at the Saturday market. The samosas, small fried flatbreads wrapped around spiced potatoes, spinach and peas, are $1.50 apiece and are available in bulk. The catering prices vary depending on the size and assortment of orders.

The café is small, maybe six times smaller than the kitchen, so the craze is take-out and catering. But, with some patience, you may be lucky enough to find one of the three tables empty.

If you’ve had Indian food, you won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t, you especially need to give the new Guzzetti’s a try. You’ll be all the more for it.