For some residents, Gabriel's may still be one of Guam's best-kept secrets.
Tucked between Burger King and the Kracked Egg along Pale San Vitores Road in Tumon, Gabriel's is great Italian-American dining hiding in plain sight. The restaurant's newly minted front-house supervisor Brendan Javier will attest to this – before he applied to the job, Javier says he'd never heard of Gabriel's. Now, he's ready to declare Gabriel's the créme de la créme of island Italian.
"The food is phenomenal," Javier says. "I've eaten at other restaurants that serve pasta ... and with the prices that are served here, I think you get your money's worth when you eat here."
Launched 13 years ago in Hagåtña, Gabriel's definitely has staying power, even if it has yet to become a Guam staple. Maybe that's part of the restaurant's allure – if most people haven't heard of it, how has it stuck around?
The other half of it is unquestionably the cuisine. One bite of the freshly flambéed Penne a la Vodka, topped with zesty sun-dried tomatoes and rich, crumbly Parmesan shavings, will turn you into a Gabriel's devotee.
Try Javier's version for a tasty twist on the classic.
"I like to add breaded chicken on top," he says.
Originally a pasta house serving pasta-everything, Gabriel's has honed its menu over the years and now offers a more sophisticated take on Italian, from a tantalizing charcuterie platter to a perfect pot of tiramisu.
"I think we are trying to diversify our menu as well," Javier says. "We're looking to expand on a lot of new items."
While the cuisine and upscale industrial ambiance scream "date night," Gabriel's is surprisingly family friendly – in fact, Javier says they host more families than couples – with a kids' menu and a wide range of prices. Entrees are available from $17 to $37 and every pasta but one (the Lobster Pappardelle) comes in under $20. It's certainly not cheap, but if you're looking for a nice place to take the family, it won't break the bank, either.
More updates to come
Gabriel's newest menu rolled out in February, Javier says, but another new menu is on its way soon.
"We rolled that one out on Valentine's Day," he says. "We're now trying to roll out another menu to incorporate some of the old items with the new items, based on a lot of the feedback that we've gotten from a lot of the guests so far. The piccatas, also the Ariel pastas – those have been pretty popular."
New hours will come with the new menus, too, Javier says. Currently open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m., the new hours would mean staying open through the afternoon as Gabriel's shifts to lighter lunch options.
"The bosses are looking at doing coffee and sandwiches during the day," Javier says. "Along the line that's what we'd like to start doing and ... maybe happy hour from 5 to 7 (p.m.), with appetizers and wines."
But for now, Javier's focus is making sure every guest feels welcome at Gabriel's.
"Overall, I want them to feel at home," he says. "From the minute they walk in the door until the time they leave. ... To make sure that their experience from when they walk in the door all the way through their meal, they're doing OK and they love the service."