Gluten free in Vienna, WV,
May 28, 2014
I found an amazing restaurant in the Vienna/Parkersburg, WV area. It is CJ's Italian Kitchen at 75 Covington Way, Vienna, WV 26105.
Prior to my trip, I researched and found this restaurant online. I emailed the owner about protocols, and she was very responsive. We sent several messages back and forth until I was satisfied that it would be safe for me and my son. We ate there last Friday while traveling and it was amazing.
When I arrived, I asked for Cindy, and she came up and greeted me warmly and told me that she would be with me very shortly to go over the menu. She gave us time to sit and order beverages, then spent several minutes going over every item on the menu which was gluten free, how it was prepared, and the protocols in place to ensure cross contamination was minimized. (You can't guarantee no cross-contamination, but I and my son are exceedingly sensitive, and had NO adverse reaction.)
We ordered stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer, and they were sublime. I have never, even before Celiac, when I could eat with abandon, had a stuffed mushroom which had such a symphony of flavors. My dining companions, who are not Celiac, agreed that it was the best stuffed mushroom they had ever eaten.
I then had the salad without croutons, with the house-made Ranch dressing. It had sweet warm roasted vegetables on the cold, crisp mixed greens. It was amazing. (Noticing a theme?)
For an entree, I had the small portion of ravioli, and my son had a pepperoni pizza. They offer small and large portions of their pastas, so if you have a hearty appetite, you will not be disappointed. Portion sizes are very generous. The pizza was wood fired with a thin crust. It was exceedingly good and a generous 10". The ravioli was so good, I thought I had accidentally been served conventional ravioli. It was heavy on the garlic, but I love garlic, so that was not a problem for me. My only (minor) complaint is that I ordered marinara, and it was heavy with red pepper flakes. I think that is how marinara is being served these days, because I ate elsewhere a while ago and the marinara was equally hot and spicy. But overall, the marinara flavor was good, albeit overly spicy hot. I just scraped off most of the sauce and savored the ravioli. One of my companions had the conventional ravioli in Alfredo sauce, and they said the Alfredo was the best they had ever eaten. I understand that their Alfredo is totally gluten free, whether you order conventional or gluten free pasta.
For dessert, I ordered carrot cake, which unfortunately was very dense and overly sweet. My companion ordered the conventional lemon creme cake, and they oohed and aahed all through the slice. I wished I could have eaten that!
The service was very good. Attentive but not intrusive. We never had an empty glass and our spent dishes were cleared very quickly. They have an open kitchen, so it was fun to watch the action there while waiting and eating. They offer a full bar as well. The restaurant is a little difficult to find because it looks like the entrance to a gated residential area, but Google maps were correct. If you go on a Friday, get there early. We were there at 5 p.m., and by the time we left the parking lot was double-parked with people waiting for a space to get in.
Cindy recommended their fish dishes with risotto, and based on what was passing my table, they looked amazing. Also based on how the food we ordered tasted, I am sure they tasted amazing, too. If I make it back to that area, I will definitely eat there again.