Gluten free at Italian restaurant in South Beach,
October 31, 2014
South Riding, VA
My friend and I were visiting Miami for a quick weekend getaway, and we stumbled upon Il Bolognese Cucina Italiana restaurant on Lincoln Road, a pedestrian thoroughfare filled with shops and restaurants in the heart of South Beach. (They also have another prime location -- on Ocean Drive in South Beach, which is where the nightlife is.)
We decided to have lunch here, after seeing that they offered gluten free pasta and gluten free pizza. When I inquired about the gluten free pasta, the waiter went out of his way to say that it would take a while to prepare. That's good...and bad. Good in that they clearly understand that the gluten free pasta needs to be prepared in a separate pot of clean, fresh water (I confirmed all of that), but bad in that they almost seemed to discourage me from ordering it...as if it would be too much trouble. They definitely didn't go out of their way to proudly talk up their gluten free options. My friend and I both decided on gluten free pizzas -- hers "Hawaiian" with ham and pineapple and mine "Capricciosa" with mushrooms, artichokes, ham, and olives. Both were very good, but there was some confusion about whether the gluten free crust was homemade or purchased. Our server told us it was homemade, but I think he must have meant that they put their own sauce, cheese, and toppings on it (as opposed to just sticking a pre-topped, prepared pizza in the oven) because the assistant manager later confirmed they purchase their gluten free pizza crusts, which come in the baking pan (I'm guessing it was the Still Riding brand so many pizza shops use.) The assistant manager also confirmed that many of the starters, salads, soups and other menu items (steaks, veal, etc.) were gluten free, but nothing is marked on the menu, and I felt his answers were a bit unsure. I'd recommend this restaurant, as it's a great spot for outdoor seating and people watching along Lincoln Road (as is their location on Ocean Drive), but I'd recommend calling ahead to have a more detailed discussion with a manager (at a less busy, off-hours time). Also be sure to mention to the manager upon arrival if you are following a gluten free diet for Celiac or other medical reasons -- and review kitchen practices with them (for the pasta, pizza, etc.) just to make sure everything is prepared safely.