Gluten-free Italian food that’s shockingly good at Caprese Ristorante Italiano
For some, eating a gluten-free diet is a New Age fad, but for those suffering with celiac disease it comes down to necessity. Few restaurants in Ottawa boast wheat-free options, leaving celiacs to pick through menus, looking for the handful of things that they can safely eat. Caprese Ristorante Italiano aims to address this issue by offering up a menu of traditional Italian food that’s completely gluten free. Even better, it tastes fantastic. It’s so good that even those without a special diet will want to check it out.
Though you can find Caprese along Bronson Avenue, the frenzied traffic outside is all but forgotten when you enter the restaurant. From top to bottom, this place feels soothing, with its low lighting, subtle granite bar and water feature. If I had just one beef, it would be the music playing over the speaker system. Listening to an upbeat Italian pop song set to the tune of David Bowie’s Life on Mars? might be amusing, but it didn’t fit in with the rest of the aesthetic.
The Caprese salad here looks utterly spectacular, with fresh bocconcini layered in between slices of a whole stacked tomato. The soup of the day, which was a cream of zucchini on the day I visited, was simply delicious. The escargots appetizer was served in a herbaceous tomato sauce with freshly sliced mushrooms and topped with more of that lovely mozzarella cheese. It was a tasty twist on escargots, proving that snails are compatible with more than just garlic butter.
The mains also impressed. The veal gorgonzola was gorgeously rich with its sauce of blue cheese, grapes, cream and grappa. Served with market veg and potato, this dish was so tasty it was hard to wrestle a bite of it away from my date. The capellini Caprese was both uncomplicated and satisfying. The rice pasta was served with bright tomato sauce spiked with wine and oregano and tossed with melted bocconcini.
Though a glass of chianti is always fair game for someone on gluten-free diet, the restaurant also serves two types of gluten-free beer, a rare find. The Quebec-brewed rice and buckwheat beer La Messagère was refreshingly light and tasted a little like sake and hard cider.
I was tempted by the crêpes Suzette on offer for dessert, but decided to opt out as I was much too full and already satisfied. This place is a find for the gluten-free set and foodies alike.
Caprese Ristorante Italiano
696 Bronson Ave.
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