Saturday, March 22, 2014

Gluten Free at Italian Village

Italian Village has been in Chicago a LONG time. They are one of the oldest restaurants in the Loop. They are worth a stop and see for that reason alone. They are the oldest Italian Restaurant which celebrated their 85th birthday in 2012. Notables from Chicago, including Al Capone have dined here. They have one of the largest wine cellars in the Midwest, which seems shocking seeing how tiny this building looks. It's quaint, there are 3 restaurants inside (again it's so small!!) each one on a different floor, La Cantina, in the basement, designed like the wine cellar. Vivere is the main level, and really swanky looking, and The Village is upstairs and is like eating on the streets of Italy. Each severs different entree's and different cooking styles from different regions around Italy. All can prepare gluten free pasta for a dish!

We were there for a birthday party recently, after spending the day at Eataly off Ohio, we took a nice stroll over and had dinner here. We were in La Cantina, in the basement. Cute, quaint, small... Not bad things, our group could have been at a bigger table, but we made do. The menu for La Cantina does have GF indicators next to meals. The one thing I didn't like, is it lists their steaks and Chicken Vesuvio (which they were the first place to server chicken vesuvio without peas!) as the only gluten free dishes. I had called ahead and found out they did have pasta available. The specials menu didn't have the nice GF indicators, but our server who was fabulous was able to help navigate what was gf on there. He also confirmed they had 2 different pastas that were gluten free and could be subbed into any dish for a pasta.

The specials menu listed a risotto. I love risotto. I do always ask to make sure it's gluten free, since a lot of place use broth/stock to cook the risotto to add more flavor, and stock/broth is always questionable if it's GF. Our server rocked, he told me he thought so but went back and check to be certain. Yay! I was going to order a pasta premivera dish, but the server shook his head and said, no, I think you should order something that will be more flavorful. I laughed, I hear things like "Servers don't want you to ask what's good on the menu..." Well he volunteered what was good to try! Their minestrone soup was also GF! All meals come with soup or salad, I opted to try the soup, you don't always get a soup option dining out.

It would have been nice to have some bread with my meal. Watching everyone else dunk in the oil and cheese looked so good, But I kept reminding myself, I'd eat more of my meal this way. Everyone enjoyed their food. It was good, the birthday girl ordered the salmon off the specials menu and LOVED it. I liked my risotto, I thought it could have had a little more flavor to it, and the rice seemed a bit undercooked in spots, cause it was hard to chew, but it wasn't so bad I'd send it back.

I struggle with a review rating. Over all it was a good place, and the staff was really nice to work with. I wish their menu gave a full picture of their gluten free options. I feel anyone who doesn't eat steak, or the steak isn't in their price range, may be turned off since it doesn't list the GF pasta on the menu. Plus the other 2 restaurants don't have gluten free indicators on their menu, making it seem like they can't accommodate. Our server totally made the difference, and made me feel safe eating there. He was so sweet and ran around to get the answers I needed, and even announced my meal was gluten free when it arrived to the table. I'll give them 4 dragonflies, thought the menu listing normally would give them 3 in my book, but the history and service made up for it. It's worth a try for date night. 

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