Italy has always held a special place in my heart from my first visit when studying abroad in college, to living there for 4 months while consulting with clients, and now my frequent vacations back to travel throughout the country. I just love Italy’s incredible food, wine, culture, people and language!
So needless to say, I’m having lots of fun exploring the new Eataly Chicago, an artisanal Italian marketplace with multiple restaurants, caffès and takeaways located at 43 East Ohio Street.
As of now, I have eaten at 7 of the 8 restaurants with friends and family (I’m allergic to fish so didn’t eat at Il Pesce). I have also checked out 5 of the 9 caffès and takeaways. The other 4 venues, including Panini, Focaccia, Nutella and Lait Gelato, all have 100% gluten and dairy containing items so unfortunately, they are not for me.
Overall, I am extremely impressed with Eataly Chicago and, in my opinion, it is a definite gluten free winner!
I’d like to share the specifics of my mouth-watering gluten and dairy free experiences with you. These include dining, tasting wine and sorbet, drinking espresso and gluten free beer as well as shopping and cooking meals with foods and products that traditionally had only been available in Italy.
So far, I’ve had delicious gluten free and dairy free meals at the various restaurants including: La Carne (Meat), La Pizza & La Pasta, Le Verdure (Vegetables), La Piazza and Baffo. Overall, the staff has been very knowledgeable about gluten free, food preparation and special dietary concerns.
At La Carne, a lot of the dishes are naturally gluten free. For those of you that are dairy free, a few of the items are marinated in milk such as the fennel so be sure to communicate your allergy needs and ask the staff about ingredients and culinary techniques for specific dishes.
My favorite gluten free and dairy free starters (antipasti) include:
- Cotechino (pork sausage with lentils and balsamic)
- Barbabietola (roasted beets with blood orange vinaigrette without the parmigiano reggiano)
- Steak skewers with grilled radicchio and balsamic
For a main dish (piatti), I’d recommend the Taglio del Giorno (meat special of the day which was a Piemontese NY strip) or the Arista di Maiale (pork chop without the fennel).
La Pizza & La Pasta offers delicious gluten free pasta that is cooked in its own pan to avoid cross contact. La Piazza also has tasty gluten and dairy free prosciutto without sodium nitrates. I enjoyed the Insalata Tricolore with radicchio, endive and arugula with balsamic as well as the Scarola alla Griglia (grilled bitter greens with balsamic and without the parmigiano) at Le Verdure. Also, remember that farro contains gluten.
Vino Libero has some great tasting wines and even a selection of organic wines from Italy made without sulphites! The Birreria has both gluten free beer from Dogfish Head as well as a gluten free cider. (As for Baffo, look for a separate post about my dining experience coming soon!)
Also, I have visited Eataly with a few friends who can eat any type of food and they really loved the delicious cheeses, breads and pizza at these restaurants as well!
In addition, I have enjoyed a double decaf expresso at Caffè Vergnano and a tasty cappuccino with soy milk at the Gran Bar Lavazza. I also had incredible wild berry sorbeto (sorbet) at Il Gelato.
As for La Pasticceria, I was very surprised to find 13 gluten free desserts! I then learned that the wife of Eataly’s Executive Pastry Chef, Luca Montersino, has celiac disease. So, under his pastry line, Golosi di Salute, Luca serves up health-conscious and allergen friendly treats ranging from traditional cakes and chocolate to gluten free cookies and jams sweetened only with grape sugar. These treats are just beautiful and delicious so look for more details in my upcoming post dedicated to La Pasticceria!
Complimenting my experiences in the restaurants, caffès and takeaways, I have also enjoyed incredible farm grown meats, super fresh vegetables and authentic Italian products. I even found the dairy free dark chocolate originals from Leone that I used to buy when living in Torino as well as great gluten free pasta from Garofalo made from rice, corn and quinoa. Remember when you see the words – senza glutine – that means without gluten in Italian!
Experience a slice of Italy in downtown Chicago! For those of you world travelers, you can also find 25 other Eataly locations across the globe including 10 in Italy, 13 in Japan, 1 in Dubai, 1 in Turkey and 1 in New York City!
I hope you enjoy Eataly Chicago as much as I do and let me know about your experiences!