Dining out gluten free in Chicago is pretty dreamy. I had no idea just how dreamy until I spent four days in the Windy City this month and was wined and dined in gluten free style all around the beautiful city! I was invited to Chicago to attend the Preceptorship Program through the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center (www.cureceliacdisease.org), due to the fact that I'm now sitting on their Advisory Board. It's truly an honor and I realize that I've finally found my small (but meaningful) place in the world of Celiac Disease support and research.
The entire four-day experience was a joy and a complete whirlwind! It all began on a very rainy morning in San Francisco on a flight to Chicago I was certain would be delayed or cancelled...but the gluten free Gods were watching out for me and my Virgin Airlines flight took off without issue, even landing early. My mystery host and ride from the airport was the Chair of our advisory board, Lisa. We had never met until she pulled up in front of baggage claim but I knew from the moment we first spoke on the phone this past summer, she was an awesome lady! Lisa's the kind of person who's energy and spirit transcends a phone line, immediately exuding such a wonderful sense of her lovely personality. Needless to say, our senses of humor aligned very quickly and we've decided that we're forever going to be GF colleagues and friends.
I was welcomed into Lisa's home by her beautiful family, as well as being welcomed during the week by all of the board members with such warmth and friendliness. I'm not sure if it's a "midwestern character trait" to be so friendly, or perhaps it comes from the fact that we're all passionate about the same cause, finding a cure for celiac disease, while supporting one another along the way.
One of the highlights of my trip happened shortly after Lisa and I met at the airport. She took me to a family favorite restaurant, DaLuciano's, (http://www.dalucianos.com) in River Park just outside of Chicago...where they serve homemade gluten free Italian food that will make you weep. Seriously, I did when my plate of lasagna arrived!
One of the most impressive parts about DaLuciano's is the fact that the restaurant has two kitchens separated by a small hallway. One of the kitchens is entirely dedicated to gluten free food preparation! The other is the main restaurant kitchen. Let's just say, they take gluten free cooking very seriously there and to an entirely different level. It's an extremely professional operation.
They even have a dedicated gluten free hot oil fryer and separate prep areas, ovens...along with an entirely stocked kitchen that's never seen one crumb of gluten.
This is DaLuciano's gluten free freezer which holds all of the plentiful GF products their restaurant has become so well known for, such as raviolis, lasagna, cannolis, focaccia bread, pizzas and much more...
And please...let's not forget about dessert! Rosa creates her own hand-rolled gluten free cannolis, to boot! I hadn't eaten a cannoli or tiramisu in years until this fateful evening when it was impossible to resist the robust dessert options. It's not often that authentic Italian food is prepared gluten free with such care, passion, and knowledge. You see, three of Rosa's seven children have Celiac Disease, therefore, ensuring that every GF item on the menu has been carefully created by Rosa, herself.
The next time you are visiting Chicago you absolutely must visit DaLuciano's for lunch or dinner...or perhaps you'll decide to visit the Windy City for the sole purpose of dining there - either way, it's completely worth it. It will truly be a dining experience that won't easily be forgotten and the best part is...most of the GF foods at DaLuciano's can be purchased and taken with you!
Buon Appetito e Buon Natale!