Gluten Free in Wilmington, North Carolina? Yes, Really.

3 June 2010


 June 3, 2010

While I enjoy popping down to the Eastern Carolina coast to visit my parents when they are there (though I MUCH prefer when they are in Las Vegas – much more me) there is a definite lack of dining choices for the food allergy sufferer.  Perhaps if I did not have a shellfish allergy it would be less of a challenge because there are seafood places up the yin-yang but those are off limits to me.  Prior to this trip I did a bit of digging and came across Osteria Cicchetti in the lovely city of Wilmington.  It is clearly part of a local restaurant group with five different restaurant types throughout Wilmington.  What drew me to them was their offering of gluten-free pasta options which had me instantly sold.

I made a last minute reservation from my iPhone using Open Table’s app while we were imbibing in a bar on the waterfront after a long day of antiquing.  The restaurant is approximately 15 minutes from the waterfront.  When we arrived we were warmly greeted and shown to our table.  The restaurant itself is more of a Hollywood interpretation of Italy but it was well decorated and comfortable nonetheless.  It was also very large with a separate bar area with seating along with two dining rooms – one of which faced the open concept kitchen.

Our server could not have been nicer.  Everything was paced perfectly and we never felt rushed.  Drink orders were taken followed by appetizers.  The menu is extensive and the antipasto options are really more tapas style where you can order a few selections and share them with the table.  So what did we eat?

Our Antipasti: Roasted Brussels sprouts with sweet peppers and balsamic vinegar; Prosciutto de Parma with a fig compote; Beet, walnut, and ricotta-salata salad; and my father had the calamari, scallop, and shrimp salad.  My other half has the fried artichoke appetizer which came in a lemon butter sauce.

Our Main courses: I of course had the gluten-free penne in their Carbonara sauce which was out of this world.  Actually gluten-free diners have a choice of five sauces (Aglio e Olio, Amatriciano, Arrabbiata, Carbonara, Pomodoro, and Puttanseca) to top their pasta with.  The sauce was rich and creamy and chock-full of wonderfully crisp pancetta.  A little grated parmesan on the top and I was in absolute gluten-free Nirvana.  The other entrées included: the veal saltimbocca; the papardalle Bolognese; and the veal Marsala.  Everyone at the table was more than pleased with their entrées.

For dessert I had the hazelnut gelato which was amazing and the rest of the table had cannoli, a truly decadent croissant bread pudding which my mother raved about, and Opera cake, which also received high marks.

Overall, the experience was fantastic with the one exception that the dining room we were sitting in clearly faced west and the setting sun was blinding diners facing the windows despite sheers attempting to diffuse the light.  While we were there multiple people complained (some were clearly regulars) and my mother had to don sunglasses towards the end of the meal.  It is a shame that this was the last thing we would remember about the evening.  Next time I dine there I will definitely ask for a different area of the dining room.

You can check out the entire menu on the restaurant’s Web site.  If you are looking for other dining choices gluten-free, friendly, or otherwise head on over to my Dining Out section for more reviews or for featured locales simply click on some of the categories on the sidebar to your right.  Finally, if you are looking for the most faulous experiences in New York City try my QNYGF section.

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