Carluccio’s for lunch today. I’m a big fan of all things Italian (even getting married there!) but I’ve walked passed Carluccio’s Italian restaurants many times looking in wistfully at the fabulous pasta, foccacia and cakes on offer but never going in.
That is until I was trying to find somewhere suitable to have a weekday lunch with my Mum who fancied lunch and a shopping trip to Canary Wharf.
Since I was diagnosed with coeliac disease at the start of this year, I’ve taken to emailing restaurants in advance to find out what my food options are. I must say this has brought mixed results.
Some have provided very detailed and clear responses (Wahaca) and some less so.
One, the dim sum place Ping Pong, has yet to reply to my emails requesting details of their gluten free menu options, despite several chasers from me. I guess the absence of a response signals there are limited or no options available?!
Anyway, back to Carluccio’s. Their reply to my query submitted through their website was almost instantaneous. A friendly email back with gluten free menu attached. Yep, a whole menu of yummy safe food to eat!
When I arrived at the restaurant I explained to the waiter that I couldn’t eat gluten and asked to see the gluten free menu. Quick as a flash our friendly waiter returned with no less than a special laminated menu, all gluten free.
I went for the Puttanesca pasta which the menu described as gluten free corn flour pasta served with a “traditional spicy sauce of tomatoes, olives, capers and anchovies.”
When it arrived, it looked like this (after the waiter added Parmesan):
How did it taste? One word. Amazing.
As I savoured each mouthful of my delicious lunch, I tried to remember the last time I had ordered pasta in a restaurant, before diagnosis.
In truth, I can’t remember a time in the last 10 years.
Indeed, so good did the pasta taste that I had to double check with the kitchen they had given me the gluten free dish and not the regular pasta by mistake. That’s how good it tasted.
The Puttanesca sauce was deliciously tomato-y with a little spiciness and the olives, capers and anchovies gave the sauce real depth in flavour.
The other thing I really liked was that there was plenty of sauce. Not so much sauce the pasta drowned, but enough that each fork full of pasta could be happily coated in the tomato-tastic sauce.
When I contacted Carluccio’s Head Office before my visit, I was advised they’d introduced their gluten free menu following public demand 2 years ago.
Wouldn’t it be fantastico if more restaurants listened to customers and provided a product not just to meet demand, but one which truly exceeds expectations?
Carluccio’s, ti amo, you have a new loyal customer in me. I can’t wait to go back soon and try more on their gluten free menu.