Gluten Free Pasta at Nico Ristorante North End Boston

We had a great dining experience at Nico last night. Our waiter was terrific. Not only was he professional, friendly, and welcoming (I felt like I was a dinner guest in his home), but he was also extremely knowledgeable about the menu. He was able to accommodate almost anything for us.

Nico is part of the Varano Group, which owns Strega and Strega Waterfront. Both have gluten free pasta everyday. Nico, you must call a few days in advance, let them know you are coming, and voilà, they will have gluten free pasta ready for you! There’s a great groupon deal available! Get it here. You can choose tow options $30 for $60 or $35 for $80. Go for the $80, you will want it, especially if you have 3 or more people.

We started with complimentary olives and the Capesante al pesto appetizer. In English – Pan Seared Deep Sea Scallops served over grilled baby eggplant and garnished with pine nuts and a pesto sauce. OMG. To die for!! The scallops were huge and I just loved everything about this dish; there was such great flavor not only from the pesto but pan searing. To make this gluten free the chef did not dust the scallops in flour. But really, who needs flour anyways?

The risotto is gluten free and I almost ordered it. I was torn between the risotto with shrimp and mushrooms or the sautéed shrimp and scallops with porcini mushrooms and peas in a black truffle cream sauce served over gluten free pasta. I don’t think I’ve ever had black truffle anything before, so I went with this dish. I loved the flavors and there was more seafood than I expected! Both the scallops and shrimp were ginormous and cooked to perfection. Again, the chef just left out the flour when sautéing the seafood to make this gluten free. The sauce was too heavy. I am not used to eating cream sauces, ever, and it was too rich but tasted so good. I was able to whip some of it off using a side plate, which made it much more enjoyable for me to eat.

My sister ordered the Fusilli with sautéed Jumbo Shrimp, Zucchini and Fresh Ricotta cheese in a pink sauce. She ordered gluten free penne instead of fusilli, and boy am I glad she did! Her dish was delicious! The flavors just exploded in my mouth. The shrimp – and scallops – were so fresh. The zucchini was either grilled or sautéed and oozed flavor as well.  A generous dollop or ricotta was served on the corner of the dish, so you had the choice of adding as much or as little as you’d like. I kept taking bites off her plate and using her sauce. And lucky for me, she let me take home her leftovers. Which, I devoured the next day.

I would go back in a heartbeat. Not only was the food delicious, but the staff was friendly and very attentive. Everyone seemed to work together, as team players. We never had an empty water glass. This seems to be a theme in the North End, one that I love. Now, if only every other restaurant in town could learn from them, I would be a happy camper!

The interior is not your typical North End style eatery. It is modern, black and white, and a bit art deco – bold, strong colors, geometric – I guess I would say. This might turn someone away or give the misconception that the food was not traditional Italian. But that is not the case at all.

Valet available at Strega for $20.

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I've been on a gluten free diet since January 2009. It's been an adventure, and a challenge at times. I love to go to new restaurants and try new foods, and being gluten free can make eating out difficult at times. But I will not let my dietary restrictions get in my way of finding new restaurants and products. These are my stories of being a young women in a big city, eating out and trying new foods, all while NOT eating gluten. Like I said, it's an adventure and you are welcome to come along... Please note that as I try to eat gluten free 100% of the time, my intolerance is not as severe as others so please use caution when dining at restaurants that are not certified gluten free.