I loved my delicious chicken piccata dinner with gluten free penne pasta at Pastina Pastaria in Bridgeport Village near Portland, Oregon. My wife was equally excited about her wheat-based rigatone dinner. The service was great and so were the deserts. The prices were amazing — if we had skipped desert, we could have had a sumptuous Italian Sunday dinner for about $10 each. While I was typing this, I heard my wife mention to her sister that this was “the best Italian food we’d had in years.” I agree.
I used my standard procedure for assessing the probability of eating safely in this restaurant: I had seen their gluten free menu posted on-line and had seen their ads on celiac-friendly websites but I did not reveal any of this information until after lunch when I thanked them and gave them my business card. I needed to ask lots of questions to make sure that this specific group of people serving me understood their company’s policy and were able to execute it. While waiting to be served, I noticed a poster advertising the gluten free pasta. I am always pleased to see restaurants emphasizing their gluten free options. The waiter seemed totally gluten-savvy. He gently reminded my wife that her meal was not gluten free (which is OK, of course), and reassured me by announcing that my meal was gluten free when he served me. That’s a piece of waiter-etiquette that I deeply appreciate.
Pastini Pastaria operates six restaurants in Portland, Oregon and its suburbs and also serves Corvalis and Bend, Oregon. UPDATE: During a recent visit, I was delighted to find out that they now serve gluten free penne and gluten free spaghetti. They also serve gluten free tiramisu which they describe as “decadent’. I agree completely, and my wife told me that there my gluten free tiramisu tasted exactly like her standard version of the dessert.