Let me start by saying that dining at Il Canale Italian restaurant in Georgetown made me feel like I was back in Italy, where our family had the opportunity to travel last summer.
Part of the reason for this is that they are known for their authentic Neapolitan-style thin crust pizza, cooked in a wood-fired oven imported from Italy. It's also got that lively vibe and friendly service you find at Italian trattorias. Add to that other tradtional Italian specialties on their menu -- fresh and just like you'd find in Italy -- and you've got all the makings of a great night out!
To be clear, Il Canale does not offer gluten free Neapolitan-style pizza (at least not cooked in the wood-fired oven, due to cross contamination concerns). But they use an Udi's non-GMO gluten free pizza crust as a base for all their wonderful toppings like fresh Buffalo mozzarella, basil, prosciutto, olives, and more. Then they cook it in a separate conventional oven, so there's no worry about cross contamination if you have Celiac. Il Canale also offers gluten free pasta, an organic variety imported from Italy and made from a blend of rice and corn flour. All gluten free orders are prepared in a separate kitchen with separate water for the pasta, separate colanders, separate utensils, separate pizza cutters...you get the idea. They are careful here, and best of all, the food is fresh and amazing.
In addition to gluten free pizza and pasta, most of the appetizers are gluten free, although not specifically marked on their dinner menu. You are safe choosing from traditional Italian favorites like prosciutto and melon, Caprese salad, Buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto, steamed mussels, grilled vegetables, Italian cured meats, and many green salads. Many entrees are gluten free by nature, too...like the salmon, sea bass, Ribeye, and flat iron steak. Just be sure to talk with the manager about your need to be safely gluten free so they can take extra care with your order.
It's also important to note that, while there are only a handful of gluten free pizzas (margherita, diavola, vegetariana rossa) and pastas (pomodoro, quattro formaggi, pesto, allo scoglio, and bolognese) specifically mentioned on the menu, they can use their gluten free penne for other preparations not listed (like pasta alle vongole or frutti di mare). They can also customize pizzas at your request.
Il Canale is always quite busy, so I'd suggest making a reservation. If you're into wine, you'll definitely be impressed with the wine list, especially when it comes to Italian reds, which are our favorites. My husband and I enjoyed a glass of the Nero d'Avola and the Super Tuscan red blend. To complement our wine, my husband selected a House Salad, and I chose the Caprese salad, which included huge pieces of the best Buffalo mozzarella I've ever had! I also begged our son for a bite of his Prosciutto e Melone salad -- which was equally as delicious! Our server also delivered some gluten free "focaccia" to the table...herbs and olive oil -- and perhaps a bit of parmesan -- drizzled over a thin Udi's pizza crust. It was nice to be served this gluten free version of an Italian favorite to complement our salads. The manager also said it is typically a great way for gluten free diners to sample their gluten free pizza crust before ordering.
For our main courses, I couldn't resist ordering my favorite type of pizza...the Capricciosa with tomato sauce, imported Buffalo mozzarella, ham, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and basil (confirming first that everything was gluten free). It was piled high with toppings, so I didn't even miss the fact that it wasn't the (non-GF) Neapolitan-style crust. The thin-crusted Udi'd shell held the toppings well and tasted good. My husband chose the gluten free penne Bolognese, which he loved, and our son ordered a gluten free Margherita pizza.
Although we were sufficiently satiated at this point (who wouldn't be?!), we tried the gluten free coconut panna cotta for dessert...worth every calorie! Drizzled with chocolate sauce, it was a nice variation of a traditional Italian dessert.
All I can say about this restaurant is GO! It's a wonderful gluten free taste of Italy!
Il Canale is located at 1065 31st Street, NW, just south of M Street. There's a public parking garage right across the street to make things convenient. (There's another Italian restaurant right next to Il Canale, so be sure you enter the right one if you're looking for all these gluten free specialties!). Upon arrival, ask to speak to either Matteo Russoniello, the General Manager, or Abdul or Giorgio, two of the other managers. You will be in good hands with any of them!