Last month I traveled to Ottawa with my new found business colleague, Stephanie Bonetta from Girlnola, where we hosted the ultimate gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free booth at the Ottawa Green Expo.
During that first amazing day at the show, a customer suggested a restaurant to us, Caprese – which is the first entirely gluten-free restaurant in the city. And it’s Italian!
I didn’t quite know what to expect, but the earliest seating we could get was 7:45pm, so I took it as a good sign. My brother-in-law, Scott, and I made the drive to Bronson to this very unassuming and quaint restaurant. As we walked down the street, Scott remembered eating an amazing pizza at the pizza parlour across the street. And here came the second good sign- turns out the chef at that pizzaria is also behind some of the food at Caprese.
The menu wasn’t too long – but once you consider the fact that every item on it is gluten-free – well that selection beats every other restaurant hands down. Half the pastas were rice based, and the other half were a blend of corn and rice. I went for the penne mediterraneo, Scott for the manicotti stuffed with ricotta and spinach, and Stephanie the fettucini pescatore with a seafood sauce.
Even before the food arrived, we were treated to a fluffy and crusty loaf of bread in olive oil and balsamic. When it arrived at our table, I had to ask if it was in fact gluten-free because I couldn’t believe my eyes! The bread was delicious, tender and arguably better than any other wheat bread I’ve ever tried. The three of us easily polished off the loaf. It was actually really hard to not be rude and eat it all by myself… but luckily a second loaf came to the rescue.
My penne was divine. The pasta was served in a flavourful herbed oil with sundried tomatoes, black olives and chicken. Scott’s manicotti was absolutely mouth watering – rich and full of flavour. If it didn’t have dairy (or came with a goat cheese instead of cow), I would order it myself next time. Stephanie’s fetuccini was a bit on the spicy side, but still very good nonetheless with a very tasty seafood sauce.
Overall, Caprese is a lovely restaurant with great ambiance, friendly service and excellent food. Luckily the chefs know what they’re doing, and it really is impossible to tell the food apart from a typical wheat filled Italian restaurant. The biggest bonus of all – with the restaurant being 100% gluten-free, there’s no worry about cross contamination.
Now, if only the bread wasn’t served on oil and vinegar, I might be tempted to bring a ziploc with me and swipe some home for later! On second thought… that’s probably the very reason why it’s served that way! For now, I guess I’ll just have to be sure to come back for more.