Branzino

Gluten Free Pasta & more at Galli Restaurant // SoHo and Lower East Side

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Founded by husband-and-wife team Steven and Karen Gallo, along with business partner Michael Forrest, Galli Restaurant features Italian Comfort Food and great cocktails on cobble stoned Mercer Street in Soho, and on the corner of Ludlow and Rivington Streets in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

The atmosphere is casual yet elegant, with both dining space and a beautiful marble bar. The space is accented with black and white Gallo and Forrest family portraits.

The menu features recipes that have been passed down from Sicily through the Gallo family for generations.  With classic Italian dishes as well as more modern dishes, there are plenty of gluten free options.

Branzino
Branzino

Gluten free pasta is available for most pasta dishes.

Gluten free menu items include:

La Bufala
Zuppa di Cozze (mussels)
Arciofi- pan friend artichokes (can be made without flour, LES only)
Polipo – pan seared octopus with chickpea puree (can be made without flour, LES only)
Prosciutto
Galli Salad
Spinach Salad
Caesar Salad (no croutons)
Arugula Salad
Greek Salad
Kale Salad
Shrimp Salad
Grilled Calamari
Gluten Free pasta can be swapped in any one of the pasta dishes
Chicken Parm (can be prepared grilled without any breading and sub GF pasta for the penne in side)
Eggplant Parm (no breading)
Grilled Chicken & Veggies
Grilled Veal
Chicken Marsala (can be prepared without flour)
Chicken French (can be prepared without flour)
Grilled Salmon
Branzino (can be prepared without flour)
Galli Burger (no bun)
All sides

All Paninis on the lunch menu can be made gluten free by substituting lettuce leafs for bread.

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Gluten Free Options at Tavola // Hell’s Kitchen

So far I love living in Manhattan. My neighborhood is full of restaurants and I’m so excited to try all of them, eventually. My cousin took us to Travola to celebrate our recent move to NYC. He loves this restaurant, and now I know why.

Tavola means “table” in Italian. The cuisine here is based on regional Italian fare, mainly Puglian, Roman, and Sicilian. Inspired by owner Nick Accardi’s extensive travels to these regions, especially the town of Castelvetrano, the source of Nick’s family roots, Tavola offers quality Italian cuisine made with regional ingredients, including single estate castelvetrano olives and extra virgin olive oil, which he exclusively imports and can be purchased at Tavola.

The menu features a variety of gluten free options from salads, and appetizers, to pasta, fish and filet mignon.

Wood roasted Pimientos de Padrone ($8), a traditional Spanish tapa from the Galician region, is one of Jeremy and my favorite dishes. We just spent a week in Galicia and ate countless Padron Peppers, and we just had to order them.

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This is a great dish for sharing. Although we enjoyed them, we’re not sure if these were not the “real” deal. In Spain, the peppers are drenched in olive oil then grilled. Here, it was very similar, but not nearly as blistered.

The Grilled Local Calamari ($14.50) was by far our favorite. Served on a bed of greens with lemon and capers, the dish was fresh and light.

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For my entrée I tried the Vongole; Manila clams, roasted garlic, Italian parsley, pepperoncino, and olive oil.

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Any pasta dish can be substituted with gluten free penne for an extra $2. While I enjoyed the dish very much, the pasta was great and cooked to perfection; the portion was a bit small for $19.50.

One thing to note, they will not substitute any sauce on any dish. So if you are like me and can also not eat dairy, most of the pasta dishes are off limits. This is too bad because I really wanted to try the wild salmon and pesto dish without the cream sauce.

Over all we all enjoyed our night at Tavola. We loved the ambiance. The vibe is welcoming and not too casual but not too over the top either. Jeremy and Rob loved the pizza (not gluten free L) and I would recommend you try it for brunch, lunch or dinner if you are looking for an authentic Italian meal with plenty of gluten free options.

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Restaurant Review – Gluten Free Options at Bin 26 Enoteca in Beacon Hill

Bin 26 Enoteca is a Beacon Hill neighborhood restaurant with an Italian, seasonally driven menu and wine list. Bin 26 Enoteca boasts an international wine list with over sixty wines by glass and over two hundred wines by bottles. Wines from around the world are each carefully chosen for its quality, value, and for the simple (but no less important) fact that it is delicious.

En-oh-TECK-a, a common term used mostly in Italy, refers to a place where one can find simple foods to accompany the wines served there. Bin 26 Enoteca offers a menu designed for snacking and sharing, or a full meal. You can simply drop in for an informal dish of pasta or more formal, multi-course, haute cuisine.

We opted for a bottle of organic Spanish wine— Mas Picosa de flor en flor— from Capcanes ($40), a Catalan village in the province of Tarragona in northeastern Spain. I love Spanish wines and I love trying new wines, especially when they are from regions I have visited.IMG_6614

The wine was a winner. A combination of Grenache, Merlot and Tempranillo. It was earthy, smooth, light and spicy all at the same time. It was well balanced, each element not overwhelming the others.

Bin 26 Enoteca has a quite a few gluten free options (*note kitchen is not dedicated gluten free, many of the menu items just happen to be naturally gluten free).

For appetizers we shared the Braised Octopus with Potato, Cannellini Beans, and tomatoes in a Cabbage Nest ($14) and the Warm Salad of Jerusalem Artichokes, Brussels Sprouts, Chili Flakes, Pine Nuts, and Crispy Pancetta ($12)IMG_6615 IMG_6617

We loved the octopus, but just wish there was more of it! The salad was delicious and also very flavorful.

For my entrée I had the Chicken “Alla Diavola” with Root Vegetable Medley ($26). The chicken was incredibly moist, but the sauce was way too spicy for me! Once I removed the skin I was able to eat it just fine.

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My mom had Stuffed Pork Chop “Valdostana” with Prosciutto, Fontina Cheese, Sage in a Wild Mushroom Sauce ($27). The pork just melted in our mouth. Although a bit too salty for my taste, she loved every bite of it.

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Bin 26 Enoteca also offers gluten free penne pasta that can be substituted for any of the pasta dishes.

Overall we had a great night and loved both the décor—  chairs made from recycled seatbelts, wine bottles filling the walls and a back wall covered entirely with wine labels— and the vibe of the restaurant. The bar was much bigger than I expected, and I will definitely be going back for more wine!

 


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Experience Tesca’s Wine Grotto & Gluten Free Menu Options

Recently BEELINE held a contest and I won the grand prize—an exclusive dinner at Tresca’s romantic Wine Grotto. WOW is right!Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 5.56.24 PM

This was much different than your typical night out. It was an experience like no other. Jeremy and I were treated to a 4-course meal seated at one of the most exclusive and romantic tables in Boston. Tresca, located in the North End, has one private table in its Wine Grotto, secluded from the rest of the restaurant and other diners. We felt like we were dining in our own private restaurant.IMG_6035

The Sommelier was incredibly helpful in helping us pick the perfect wine to pair with our meal. He was incredibly knowledgeable about Italian wines and after discussing our likes and dislikes (honestly, I don’t really dislike anything about wine, except Chardonnay), he chose the perfect bottle for us.IMG_6036

Our server was very professional and friendly. He and the chef put together a wonderful tasting menu for us. They were spot on with our likes; seafood for me, meat for Jeremy. With so many delicious sounding menu choices, we were glad to be getting the tasting menu. This meant we didn’t need to choose between the Osso Bucco Veal Shank or Surf & Turf with aged black angus tenderloin and Maine lobster tail scampi. Quite frankly I don’t know how I would have picked just one.

Tresca labels their gluten free (GF) and dairy free (DF) options right on the menu. They are also willing to make substitutions and accommodations as necessary.

Capesante Veneziane ~ Pan seared Diver Scallops served over a warm salad of roasted corn, fresh peas and apple wood smoked bacon.IMG_6047 IMG_6049Steak – 10 oz marinated hanger steak, with a rosemary demi glaze with arugula salad.IMG_6044

Bucatini Bolognese ~ Traditional northern style veal & pork ragout enriched with pancetta & tomatoes, served with gluten free penne. IMG_6051
Costata di Vitello ~ Veal Chop Naturally raised milk-fed veal chop, served with glazed baby carrots, garlic mashed potato and salsa cruda.IMG_6052
Pesce Della Sera (Fish of the day) ~ The chef’s hand selected fish special, oven roasted salmon with herb roasted potatoes, and pear salad with baby arugula Barlett pear, pine nuts tossed with lemon thyme vinaigrette.IMG_6056
Unfortunately, for dessert, there wasn’t anything available that gluten free. The chef brought out a cannolis sampler for Jeremy and of course I had to try a bite of the fillings! Each one was decadent, rich, and very sinful. Usually, Tresca offers gelato and a gluten free chocolate cake, which I would have loved to try!

Every dish was delicious and full of flavor. The main course portions were very generous, and the wine list was intense, filled with an array of classic and more unique Italian wines.

We loved being able to take our time, not be rushed, and enjoy our night together.  We were treated like VIP throughout the night and impressed with the quality of the food and the excellent service. IMG_6038

This was such a wonderful experience and we would like to thank Tresca and BEELINE for such a magnificent and unforgettable evening!

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Product Review: Nantucket Pasta Goddess Gluten Free

Pasta is a staple food of most Americans’ diets and one of the hardest losses felt by celiacs and people with gluten intolerances. You know the feeling.Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 6.52.51 PM

Since starting my gluten free diet in 2009, there has been a huge increase in the amount— and variety— of gluten free pastas now available. Although we can now find every type of pasta from brown rice, corn, quinoa and legumes, in every shape and style— penne, rotini, angel hair spaghetti, fettuccini, elbows, farfalle, rigatoni, etc.—it is still extremely rare to find homemade pasta and ravioli that is both fresh and flavorful.

Now, that is where I want to introduce you to the Nantucket Pasta Goddess.

Seeing the need for a better gluten free pasta that didn’t skimp on taste or texture, Liliana began experimenting and working on recipes. After many attempts, she finally found a recipe that works really well, and the taste is pretty amazing.IMG_6332

Liliana introduced her pasta to the world in 2010, and it is now available in over 250 retail and restaurant locations in New England – , and can be found as far west as California and as far south as Florida. For a complete list of retail and restaurant locations, click here.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Liliana to talk about her company and what makes her products so different from the rest of the gluten free pastas we see at the supermarket. Liliana’s pastas are fresh, not dried. Fresh pasta is often locally made and uses, well, fresh ingredients, while dried pasta comes in a box, is shipped over long distances, and has been sitting on shelves for an unknown period of time. Fresh pasta contains egg, and therefore texture of fresh pasta is more delicate than dried pasta.

Liliana’s line of Nantucket Pasta Goddess gluten free pastas includes: four different types of ravioli, lasagna noodles, gnocchi, goddess waves, and tagliatelle.

All of their products are made in a gluten free facility. Naturally free of wheat, gluten, corn, soy and nuts, all pastas are also non-GMO.

When Liliana asked if I would like to try some of her pastas I said yes and quickly ran home and made ravioli for dinner!Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 6.49.18 PM

Nantucket Pasta Goddess’ signature cut pasta is called Goddess Waves. The long wavy tubular shaped pasta is an “S” shape that holds on to sauces so you get an explosion of flavor with each bite. The pasta is thicker than what I was expecting, and has an incredible fresh and dough-like flavor, unlike any other pasta experience I’ve ever had. IMG_6362

Butternut Squash Ravioli was my favorite. It had great flavor; butternut squash, sage, and freshly ground spices. Some of the raviolis were broken in the bag, and lost their fillings while cooking, therefore the inside was a little watery, but it did not take away from the taste.

The Lemon Ricotta Ravioli is filled with real Ricotta and a little lemon twist. The overwhelming lemon flavor was unexpected. It was a little too much for us. The ravioli, like the butternut squash, also fell apart a bit while it was cooking.IMG_6335

Made from a unique blend of fresh locak ricotta, asiago, mozzarella, parmiggiano, provolone, and fontina cheese, sprinkled with nutmeg, salt, and pepper, the Sei Formag Ravioli is also bursting with flavor. Jeremy loved this cheese ravioli and said, “This shouldn’t only be for people who are gluten free. I would eat this all the time!” The ravioli held together well while cooking and it was delicious paired with a hearty tomato sauce.Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 6.49.24 PM

The Mushroom and Goat Cheese Ravioli is made with oven-roasted mushrooms, shallots, garlic and red wine with, fresh thyme. This ravioli was just bursting with mouth-watering flavors and just the right amount of cheese. This ravioli also held together while cooking; it must have something to do with the cheese…IMG_6422

The Rosemary Lemon Gnocchi had great flavor, the lemon was not nearly as overpowering as the ravioli, and we really enjoyed it. We didn’t have good luck cooking the gnocchi though; it was a bit mushy, but incredibly flavorful and tasty nonetheless.IMG_6608

The lasagna sheets were great for making lasagna and cannelloni. I loved the freshness my lasagna had; not something I’ve experienced in a long time.

FINALLY gluten free ravioli and homemade pasta that I can enjoy at home!! Liliana has found a way to create and package the freshest pastas that are easy to prepare, with all the benefits of a gluten free pasta without sacrificing the flavor and texture of a great pasta.

I highly recommend trying it, it really does speak for itself and you will not be disappointed.

Nantucket Pasta Goddess products can now be found at the Whole Foods in Jamaica Plain, as well as over 250 locations throughout New England, and can also be purchased online. Prices range from $6.75-$10.25.

Disclaimer: I received this product free to sample and review for my blog. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

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Nebo Restaurant Review – Gluten Free Pizza, Pasta & More

On June 20, 2013, Nebo opened in its new location on Atlantic Avenue, just next door to Trade. The restaurant, owned by sisters Carla and Christine Pallotta, was originally located in the North End before moving to its new location. Their mother and grandmother’s classic Italian recipes inspired them to first open the restaurant in 2005.Screen shot 2013-11-13 at 2.34.42 PM

Last week I was invited to check out Nebo’s gluten free menu with Amelia from Altus Marketing & Management. We had such a great night. I really liked the open layout and the industrial décor. It was a bit noisy, and there were times we had to strain to here each other. Nebo also offers outside seating along Atlantic Ave.

While I was there I met both sisters, who informed me that Nebo has a dedicated gluten-free section of their kitchen, and have made sure that their staff is well-trained.

Nebo offers an extensive gluten free menu, complete with appetizers, pasta dishes, entrees, and pizzas. Although I do commend them for having so many gluten free options (including fried calamari), I am still put-off by the $3 surcharge for gluten-free pasta and $4 surcharge for the pizza.IMG_5222

We shared the gluten-free lardo pizza as an appetizer. Made with lardo (a type of Italian charcuterie—think gourmet salami), wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, sage, and mozzarella, it was absolutely delicious! The crust had a great texture and taste. The crust was crunchy and not gooey in the middle, which happens a lot with gluten free pizza. Their trick is that they cook the dough first, without anything on it, then add the toppings and finish it in the oven. I will have to remember this when I make pizza at home! If you are willing to spend the money ($19-22) then I highly recommend ordering one of their 8 gluten free pizzas.IMG_5226

For my entrée, I ordered the pasta Bolognese, made with slow braised meat ragu, tomato sauce and pecorino cheese. I really liked the type of pasta they use (I don’t know what brand it is); it had a great taste and great texture, and was cooked perfectly. The Bolognese was pretty good as well, but I wasn’t blow away by any means, and I still couldn’t get over the fact that this dish was $26 if ordered gluten free.IMG_5227

For dessert I tried the flourless chocolate torte. It was incredibly rich and dense. I could only eat half and saved the rest for the next night at home. I would order this again, without a doubt!IMG_5230

Overall I did enjoy my experience at Nebo. I loved the all-around friendly-vibe of the restaurant and its staff, and the bar area seems like a great place to grab drinks with friends or coworkers after work. The one thing I do not like is when restaurants charge so much extra for gluten free options. A $1 or $2 up-charge is understandable, but anything more than that is hard to justify in my mind; it feels like they are taking advantage, rather than off-setting the cost of the ingredients. There are plenty of suitable gluten-free pizza and pastas available on the market, so it is not difficult to find one that is not so costly. So would I go back? Yes, I would go back for a drink and appetizer or to share a pizza, but it would have to be a special occasion for me to spend $20 on a pizza.

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Product Review: Barilla Introduces a line of Gluten Free Pasta

Starting this fall, Barilla is introducing a line of gluten free pasta to help anyone living a gluten free lifestyle enjoy pasta once again. Barilla’s gluten-free line launched in select U.S. grocery stores in September, with national availability starting in early 2014.Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 7.05.30 PM

For over 100 years, Barilla has prided itself on making authentic, high-quality pastas, and continues to be committed to making pasta accessible for everyone to enjoy. The new certified gluten free pasta lives up to the quality standards that pasta lovers have come to expect from Barilla. Barilla’s gluten free pasta is produced in a dedicated gluten free facility in Italy and is made from a combination of non-GMO corn and rice. The four varieties—spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, and elbow macaroni—have the same color, texture, and taste as other Barilla pastas.  barilla3

Jeremy said, “This is the best gluten free pasta I’ve tried. It’s the closest to the real thing. I would eat this all the time. “  It did have a great texture and flavor, and was not grainy or mushy. We loved it and finished all 3 boxes in one week!

Gluten Free American Chop Suey
Gluten Free Barilla Elbows – American Chop Suey

The gluten free line offers convenient, versatile, and tasty solutions for anyone living a gluten-free lifestyle. With a suggested retail price of $2.39 for a 12 oz. box, Barilla will be one of the more affordable gluten free pastas on the market.

Based on a 2 oz. serving, calories and total fat are the same for both the gluten free and traditional products. Unfortunately there is less protein and iron in the gluten free version*. To make up for the shortfall, we added protein-rich chicken and iron-rich vegetables to our dish.

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gluten free rotini nutritional info *Regular Barilla rotini pasta has 7 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 10% DV of iron.

Barilla does not add gluten to the raw materials used to make their sauces. At the present time, however, they cannot guarantee that their sauces are absolutely gluten free.

Disclaimer: I received these products for free to sample and review for my blog.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

 

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Gluten Free Italian at Ristorante Olivio in Arlington

Open in Arlington for eleven years now, Ristorante Olivio is a hidden gem offering authentic Italian cuisine. Chef Angelo came to America from Italy, bringing with him home-style cooking and traditional recipes from his native country. (click here to save 50% off)

Sitting at a dark wooden table in a simple dining room with white walls and Italian décor, I felt like I was back in Europe again. One of the walla displays vases filled with wine corks, another displays traditional serving dishes and pieces from Italy.IMG_4408

The open kitchen can be seen from the main dining room and invites guests to get a sneak peak at their dishes being prepared.

You wouldn’t know from their website, but Olivio’s offers a gluten free menu complete with two types of gluten free pasta: capellini and linguine.IMG_4407

Not only does Olivio’s offer a gluten free menu but they also have gluten free bread. This was one of the best, if not the best, breads I have tried.  Our waitress told me the brand is called Heartland, and it was purchased at Whole Foods. I am still trying to figure this out, because I cannot find that company online. If you see it at Whole Foods, but it— it’s that good.IMG_4409

We started with two appetizers: prosciutto and melon with olives and fresh cracked pepper, and the asparagus salad with mozzarella and sundried tomato vinaigrette. The menu description also included string beans, which were missing from our salad. I really liked the puréed sundried tomato dressing; it was thick and flavorful.IMG_4416

The prosciutto and melon was also tasty but there was too much melon. I must say the portion sizes were generous.IMG_4413

For my entrée I ordered the shrimp and calamari fra diavolo with capellini pasta. The sauce was slightly spicy, but not too spicy, and I really enjoyed that. There were four big shrimp, plenty of calamari rings, and yet only one full squid with tentacles. The tentacles are my favorite part so I wish there were more, however the four shrimp and rings were plenty filling. The basil sprinkled on top was incredibly fresh— it tasted like it was just picked out of the garden— and added a nice herbaceous flavor to the dish.IMG_4417

Katie ordered the balsamic glazed roasted salmon with spinach risotto. The salmon was cooked perfectly, slightly pink and soft on the inside, just the way we like it. The risotto was rich and creamy; too much cheese for my liking, but Katie really enjoyed it. Both entrées were big and we couldn’t finish either dish.IMG_4419

For dessert we ordered the Chocolate panna cotta. Neither of us really knew what panna cotta was. We learned that it is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing it with gelatin (in this case chocolate), and letting it cool until it sets. It was then topped with fresh whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate. We absolutely loved the creamy, silky texture and chocolate flavor. It was the prefect way to end out meal.IMG_4423 IMG_4424

The service was incredibly friendly and we really enjoyed our evening at Ristorante Olivio. If you are looking for authentic an authentic Italian restaurant, with great food, and a warm and welcoming environment, without the high prices and congestion of North End restaurants, then I would recommend Ristorante Olivio’s in a heartbeat.

Save 50% off with the livingsocial deal. (Purchase until February 21, 2014. Valid until June 2014)


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Gluten Free Restaurant Week – Lucca Back Bay

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 2.07.27 PMLucca is an Italian restaurant in the North End that opened a second location in the Back Bay in 2010 (where I ate). Pasta dishes range from $23-$36 and main courses or “secondi” range from $28-$38. However, a bar menu is offered, which is slightly different from the main dinning room, but is less expensive, with prices ranging from $11-$20.

My girlfriends and I decided to eat here during Restaurant Week. While we waited for our table to be ready we had a drink at the bar. The martini’s were strong, and the margaritas were sour. We were at an Italian restaurant, we should have known better then to order margaritas.  The wine list offers a nice selection of not only Italian wines, but wines from South America and the West Coast. Glasses are priced $7-$14.

Unlike many restaurants, Lucca offered the entire menu during restaurant week. But here’s the catch – many items had an additional charge of $2- $12. We all decided to stick to the options included in the $38.13 restaurant week price. Luckily, there were 4 – 5 appetizer and entrée choices without an up-charge.

Lucca does not have gluten free bread, and I wish I had known to bring my own. All my friends raved about the white bean and garlic dip that was served with the it. Don’t make the same mistake I did, BYOB – Bring Your Own Bread.

For my meal, I started with the Calamari con caponata. The Point Judith calamari were sautéed with eggplant, peppers, olives, tomato, red onion, oregano and balsamic vinegar. This was one of the best calamari dishes I think I’ve had anywhere. The calamari was plentiful and cooked perfectly. The sauce had a slight spiciness to it. This dish was fantastic, I highly recommend ordering it. Not only that, but sauteing is much healthier than frying, and it is gluten free!

For my entrée I had gluten free penne pasta tossed with a Bolognese sauce of ground beef, veal and pork with mascarpone and Parmesan. I forgot, don’t ask me how, to ask for it without the cheese. This new dairy free diet is hard to remember! Luckily, there was not a lot of cheese in the dish. I enjoyed my meal, but I expected more. For $38, a bigger portion and more flavorful would have been nice. I might be being too critical, but when I am spending that much on a meal I expect to be blown me away. It was a solid dish and I am not complaining, I just think I had higher expectations, especially after my appetizer. Many, but not all, of the pasta dishes can be substituted with gluten free pasta.

My friend Kristen ordered the Pollo saltimbocca; a Roasted Statler chicken with prosciutto di Parma and sage, Marsala sauce, caramelized onion, spinach and potato hash. The chicken was moist and nicely seasoned. There wasn’t that much sauce, which I like personally, and Kristen didn’t seem to care about.  The portion size, and that of my friend Katie’s salmon, were on the smaller side. 

For dessert there were only two options – Panna cotta and Tiramisu. The Tiramisu was to die for. The espresso pastry cream and whipped mascarpone had a light airy texture, which didn’t make it feel as rich as it was. I couldn’t put my spoon down, it was that mouth watering good. I did not try the ladyfingers but I could not stop eating the creamy goodness! I ordered the vanilla flavored panna cotta, which is served with an orange marmalade and mint. I liked the vanilla flavor, but it was incredibly rich I could only eat a few bites. If you are a fan of creamy desserts try this one. If you prefer chocolate, like me, get the tiramisu.

We had a great server. She was sweet, patient, and incredibly knowledgeable about the menu. She was able to answer all our questions, and explain the dishes to us. The entire wait staff was professional and outstanding. After paying the bill we stayed and chatted, got another round of drinks, all the while not realizing the time until someone looked around and noticed we were the only ones there! Even though we were the last table to leave at 11:30pm, we did not feel rushed or pressured at all.

$38.13 is not so bad for a 3 course meal here, but for a 20-something year old it’s not something I do all the time, and I just wish the portion sizes had been bigger. But, we did enjoy our meals. we left nothing on the table except empty plates and napkins.

The menu is pricey, but the bar menu offers smaller portions at reasonable prices with the same great flavors. A dollar snack menu is available in the lounge from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. And Wednesday night is dollar oyster night, but the Oysters sell out often so come early. Eating at the bar sounds like the prefect way to sample a delicious, high quality menu without having to pay the high prices.

Website: http://www.luccabackbay.com/
Location: 116 Huntington Ave. Boston, MA.

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Salvatore’s Gluten Free Review

Screen shot 2013-08-02 at 9.22.25 AMLooking for great Italian food but don’t want to go to the North End?

Salvatore’s is a great choice for high quality, authentic cuisine at reasonable prices. Salvatore’s opened about 5 years ago by Sal Lupoli, famously known for his approximately 30 pizza restaurants around New England called Lupoli Companies.

Salvatore’s offers a gluten free menu with many options to choose from. I was very impressed with this menu, which offers seven appetizers, two salads, seven pasta dishes, and nine entrees. This is bigger than most gluten free menus in Boston.

The appetizer menu includes both fried calamari and breaded chicken tenders, a rarity in the gluten free restaurant scene. It’s not that often I find these dishes on gluten free menus, and if I hadn’t had calamari the night before it would have been difficult to choose between the chicken tenders and the calamari. We opted for the house made chicken tenders finished with buffalo sauce. The chicken tenders are made with a rice based batter and gluten free Italian breadcrumbs. The buffalo sauce was not too spicy— thank goodness. This was my favorite part of the meal. I loved them so much I asked Jeremy to learn how to make them for me at home! I would come back again just to order these along with a glass of wine at the bar, or one of the outside tables.IMG_4057

We also shared the Scallops Limoncello appetizer—3 pan seared Day Boat scallops with a Limoncello cream sauce that we asked for on the side. It was fabulous. The scallops were delicious, and perfectly cooked.IMG_4056

For my entrée I ordered the Veal Piccata —veal medallions sautéed with capers, lemon and white wine, served with green beans and potatoes. This dish was beautifully presented and very good, with two large pieces of tender veal, but way too many capers. The saltiness from the capers was a bit overpowering for me, but once I scrapped those off I enjoyed my meal.IMG_4058

Jeremy ordered the Scallop and Shrimp Fra Diavolo with garlic, spicy pomodorini (cherry tomatoes) and white wine over gluten free penne. The spicy tomato sauce was great; not too spicy, but with a kick every bite or two. We were impressed with the number of scallops and shrimp in the dish. The pasta was cooked perfectly. Although it was pretty mushy by the time we got to the bottom of the dish, that is how you know you are eating gluten free pasta—it will eventually get mushy the longer in sits in sauce.IMG_4060

The food was very flavorful, the chef knows what he is doing, and the portion sizes were generous.

For dessert we had the choice of Gealati or sorbet, but we decided to pass because we were just too full.

The wine list is mostly Italian and Californian, with some French bottles.

Our only compliant was how tight the dining room was. The room itself was small and the tables were very close together; we could hear the conversations at both tables next to us and I did not feel like we had any privacy.  Our server was just ok, nothing great, and forgot to tell us the daily risotto special.

Salvatore’s does have outside dinning for nice evenings, and I wish it had been just a little warmer because, I would have loved to have sat outside.

Salvatore’s has 5 locations in and around Boston, including one in Andover, Lawrence, Medford Square and the Theater District.

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