It takes a lot to impress me when I dine out with my family. We are constantly on the hunt for new and exciting places that offer a range of choices for gluten free diners. Although we don't need haute cuisine, it's nice to have some variety and excitement even at "family" restaurants. I'll confess we do get a bit tired of restaurants that offer the same ol' options (steaks, burgers without buns, grilled chicken, salads), without much thought to making a gluten free diner's experience as close as possible to that of other diners.
That's why we were thrilled some time ago to discover Travinia Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, an Italian restaurant with a very cool vibe and an out-of-this-world Gluten Free Menu. If you're lucky enough to live in Virginia (like us), North Carolina, South Carolina, or Florida, you'll likely find a location near you. If you plan to visit any of the towns where they have locations, be sure to reserve a night to dine at Travinia. Your only frustration will be that you can't sample everything on the Gluten Free Menu!
On our first visit to Travinia -- with our kids -- I ordered the Seasonal Berry Salad and Sinatra Chicken, a chicken breast topped with pancetta, mozzarella, and a light semi-sweet Grand Marnier sauce over gluten free pasta. I ask you...where have you EVER seen THAT on a Gluten Free Menu?! It was fantastic. Our gluten free son ordered the Seafood Pescatora -- clams, calamari, mussels, scallops, and shrimp in a spicy sauce (we asked for it to be prepared not so spicy) with garlic and basil over gluten free pasta.
Our other son, who can never turn down a good steak, ordered the Madeira Filet. He does not have Celiac but ordered off the gluten free menu, as did my husband who tried the Seared Scallops appetizer and Pasta Mia Nona, gluten free pasta with shaved grilled chicken, mushrooms, and roasted tomatoes in a garlic cream sauce. Both were (apparently) fantastic...so much so that I was not offered a bite!
My husband and I went back again recently with another couple and were excited to try a couple more items from their extensive Gluten Free Menu.
I began with a delicious Spinach Salad followed by the Pine Nut Encrusted Salmon. This violated my typical rule of ordering something you don't ordinarily find on a Gluten Free Menu. Although salmon is often a choice on other gluten free menus, I was just in the mood for salmon! And this one sounded (and was) particularly delicious and served with roasted vegetables. My husband ordered the Shrimp and Sausage Arrabiata, sauteed shrimp and mild Italian sausage served over GF pasta with a spicy arrabiata sauce.
If you prefer more "traditional" Italian specialties like Chicken Piccata, Veal Marsala, Shrimp Scampi, Pasta Carbonara, or Veal Saltimbocca, you are also in luck. They're among the 25 (yes, 25!) different entrees on Travinia's Gluten Free Menu. There are plenty of salads and appetizers, too -- along with two gluten free desserts: Creme Brulee and Zabaglione. However, we didn't have room...maybe next time!
You can read more about Travinia Italian Kitchen and link directly to their Gluten Free Menu -- plus see their listing of 11 locations and read about their weekly specials on wine and martinis -- on a special dedicated page of our website, GlutenFreeTravelSite.
Travinia is a special place -- beautifully decorated and perfect for any group or occasion. But what really makes it stand out above so many other interesting restaurant concepts is its innovative, never-boring take on Italian cuisine. Best of all, gluten free diners can enjoy it all! How wonderful for a change...thank you Travinia!