Add gluten-free options to an old favorite that hasn't been visited in several years and what do you get? A new favorite that I can't wait to get back to.
As is often our custom we like to have dinner while sitting at the bar. It often makes for an interesting meal by adding elements that you don't find while dining at a table. For example, interesting stool neighbors, larger pours of wine from your new friend the bartender, being able to more closely watch the cooking process at some places, and finally the fortuitous conversation with the owner of the restaurant.
Sorriso typically includes all four of the above and on this night speaking with the owner, Pietro Polles, proved to be an excellent stroke of luck. I didn't need to wait long for an opening so when I was asked how come it had been so long since we were there I was ready with my stock celiac answer and the lack of gluten-free options that Sorriso had for me in the past. It seems I struck a personal nerve once I said that as Pietro explained to me that a bit over three years ago his wife was diagnosed with celiac disease. Not that I ever wish that on anybody but it sure changed Sorriso's understanding of the problem and how they would address it.
During our conversation Pietro disappeared for a minute and when he reappeared he was armed with several bags and boxes of pasta. These were all brands that I never heard of before that all came directly from Italy. What's more, before I could even begin discussing issues of cross-contamination he beat me to the punch by telling me the same thing and how they deal with it. He talked about cooking tools, pots, water for pasta, all the things that I was ready to talk about. Since none of the GF options were on the menu, it is essential to ask your server, but with all that said I was thrilled, hungrier than ever and ready to start ordering.
My wife and I started off with some zuppa di cozze - sautéed mussels in white wine garlic sauce. It did not disappoint. The mussels were excellent, and of course the extra treat of a spoon to be able to treat the white wine garlic sauce like a bowl of great tasting soup. After seeing all of those new pastas I knew I had to get a pasta dish so I followed up the mussels with linguine con coda di rospo e Diavola -- linguine with monkfish in a spicy sauce. Pietro said he would cook it for me personally so I got to watch from my bar location the care he took in its preparation. The pasta he chose for me was Molino di Ferro Corn Spaghetti Le Veneziane. It was cooked to perfection, nice and al dente, and it was great with the monkfish and diavola sauce. It was a truly fun eating experience.
They do not yet have gluten-free pizza but it is something Pietro is thinking about adding in the future. Of course it will be a homemade crust so I will have to tell him that he can count on me to be a very willing guinea pig. At this time they also do not have any gluten-free bread but at their sister restaurant, Café Sorriso e Gelateria which is located in the Woodley Park DC neighborhood, they do serve sandwiches on gluten-free bread so I expect it is only a matter of time before that situation changes.
Like I started off saying, I can't wait to get back to Sorriso to try some of their other pasta dishes, Pietro even hinted that he has some excellent gluten-free flour to make gnocchi with. Well, if that is the case not only will I will be back soon, but it might be often as well.