In the past year numerous restaurants in the North End have begun to offer gluten free menus. Diners with gluten sensitivities or celiac – and those who are dating us – should definitely make their way to the North End, a neighborhood many of us thought we would never be able to dine in again. Many restaurants are now offering gluten free pasta and pizza, and are becoming more aware of food allergies and how to cater to this group of diners.
Beneventos on Salem St is just one of the many Italian restaurants I’ve dined at in the past year that offers gluten free pizza and a variety of pasta. The first thing you notice as you walk into the narrow restaurant (there is a basement with additional seating) is the wood-fired oven, right next to the bar, open for everyone to see. It was quite fun to watch the pizzas being tosses and stretched.
There is a $2.50 upcharge for gluten free pizza and pasta. Charging extra for gluten free is something that really bothers me. If you are going to offer it, please don’t make us pay extra. $1 or $2 I understand, as gluten free dough and pasta is more expensive, but when we are charged over $3 (Nebo and Flatbread) I think that is outrageous. But, Beneventos, offers a variety of specialty gluten free pasta options, not just penne like most restaurants. So for this I will not hold the extra charge against them.
I’ve had my fair share of gluten free pizza, at restaurants, frozen, and made from mixes. Nebo, was incredibly doughy and soggy in the middle, Jimmy’s has the best crunchy thin crust, but with a little too much oil. Schars (frozen crust) was hard as a rock and tasteless. Beneventos was not soggy, was not oily and was not tasteless, nor did it taste like a cardboard box (you’ve all had that experience too, more often than desired.) Cooked and served in the same aluminum ‘box’, it never touches a pizza dish that gluten pizza has touched. I love the measures they take to prevent cross contamination. Nicely done. This gets an A in my book. The one downside is the size; the gluten free pizza is a bit smaller than the regular sized pizza.
Prices are very reasonable. The pasta tasted “normal” according to my sister who chose to also order gluten free penne with her meal. I liked it a lot. It had a good texture as well. The sure fire way to tell if the pasta is truly gluten free: gluten free pasta in the bottom of the plate, which is soaking in sauce, becomes much mushier than regular pasta. I always wondered why that was. Now I don’t care so much, I’m just happy to have this reassurance when dining out.
I had the Primavera with Chicken, in a white win garlic sauce. The sauce was light and flavorful and the dish was loaded with vegetables.
My sister had the shrimp and scallop pasta special, which was also delicious.
Our waitress was ok, to put it nicely. The rest of the staff were excellent. The buss boys were super friendly and our water glasses were never more than half empty. We were taken care of and tended to throughout the entire meal. Good thing the waitress had her trusty sidekicks to pick up her slack.
I would suggest making a reservation and come hungry.