It is such a delight for me to discover another restaurant in the Austin area that addresses the food needs of diners with gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Increasingly, restaurant owners and their staff are learning about these conditions so that more options exist for those who enjoy eating out. When the owners and managers are conscientious enough to change and adjust the menu, I am glad to spread the news. One of my new gluten-free haunts in Austin is 360 Uno Trattoria. An owner of this neighborhood establishment is gluten intolerant, which led to the decision to make as much of the menu adaptable and gluten free as possible.
My husband and I tried the restaurant one night many months ago and discovered a number of gluten-free items in the entrée section of the menu. We’d recently heard from friends about a new gluten-free pizza crust’s arrival. Since the place is convenient to us, we planned to check out this new dining option.
360 Uno sits in the middle of Davenport Village, a small retail center with a mix of retailers, boutiques, and cafes found at Hwy 360N and Westlake Drive. This restaurant adds Northern Italian and Sicilian cooking adapted from family and traditional recipes.
The owners first opened the osteria – a little place for wine and coffee, as well as bites of food, pastries, gelato, and sorbettos – a few years ago. It soon became a neighborhood hangout. The coffee, pastries, and many of the wines come from Italy. The gelatos and sorbettos are home made. The popularity of these items and the community atmosphere of the place led to opening the restaurant next door. The proprietor, a chef and restaurateur for over 25 years, decided to bring his Italian culinary expertise into the enclave.
Wrought iron tables and chairs sitting under Italian umbrellas and the portico in front of the restaurant area distinguish the storefront from the Texas limestone façade of the center. Inside, the atmosphere is cozy and inviting with deep red, marigold, and cool blue walls covered with the owners’ art and decorative elements. It immediately appears as a place for either family or intimate dining.
The flexible menu has many items for gluten-intolerant diners. You can plan a meal as simple as salad and pizza or a three to four course meal with wine and other beverages.
Of interest to gluten-intolerant diners is the absence of flour in the kitchen. The pizzas – both the traditional variety and the specially developed gluten-free crust – are delivered frozen several times weekly to the restaurant. Wheat flour is not used in any of the sauces or dressings, which are made daily at the restaurant, nor is it used to dust any meats or seafood in any of the dishes. Bread comes from an outside supplier.
Cross-contamination is not an issue because there are different prep stations for sandwiches, salads, croutons, pizzas, pasta, and entrées. Even the pizzas are safe from cross-contamination.
The pizza crusts are stored on individual pans in separate areas of a dedicated freezer. Each pizza crust is prepped for the oven on that pizza pan, so the crust never comes in contact with a prep surface. The staff practices strict hand washing routines between gluten-free and traditional pizza preparation; a sign hangs above the pizza prep area as a reminder to the staff. There are separate ovens to use for the pizzas, but they go into the 600° oven on those original pans anyway. The kitchen staff uses a separate designated cutting board, mezzaluna (two-handled curved knife), and spatula for cutting and serving the gluten-free pizza.
The gluten-free pizza crust was developed by a national gluten-free pizza company to 360 Uno’s specifications to create a crisp, thin crust that is baked at a high temperature to present a pizza much like one finds in Northern Italy. It has a fine flavor that is reminiscent of cornmeal crust pies I’ve tasted through the years, and it holds the topping flavors that melt into it without turning soggy.
A customer has many pizza choices and sauces to consider. All of the pizza ingredients can be adjusted as you’d like or need. Add ingredients or hold ingredients – the kitchen is accommodating.
The tomato sauce is made at 360 Uno from whole tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and gluten-free herbs and spices. The spicy cream sauce is cream, butter, and gluten-free spices. In the meat specialties, the restaurant uses prosciutto and pepperoni from Italy. These are traditionally made and are considered gluten free, but this designation for these two items and the seasoned beef cannot be confirmed with the distributor. You will have to decide this particular issue for yourself.
The chicken, which comes from whole chicken breast, and the bacon are gluten free, as well as all of the seafood and vegetarian pizza choices. The menu describes each variety of pizza; three-fourths of the choices and all of the sauces are gluten free.
Other menu items to consider may be found in the appetizer category. Two of the three hot appetizers are gluten free. Escargot con Erbe (snails with butter and herbs) and Gamberi alle Scampi (shrimp with butter and garlic) are piquant choices. The butter, garlic, and herb sauces are made daily. Almost all of the cold appetizers are gluten free, too. The Calamari Cotti, chilled squid with lemon, extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), and herbs, are a taste of the coasts of Italy. Caprese Salad (tomatoes, baby mozzarella, basil, and olive oil) is another good choice. Another option to consider is the Carpaccio di Salmone Affumicato (smoked salmon platter with capers, onions, and egg). Ask for removal of the bread and Uno’s Cheese Plate, with a selection of goat, Brie, mozzarella, and fresh fruit, becomes another choice.
The family recipe salad dressings are gluten free. There are choices of Balsamic, which uses a Modena balsamic vinegar; the Caesar dressing made with wine vinegar, lemon, parmesan cheese, lemon and EVOO, or more simple vinaigrettes made from lemon, garlic, and wine, each mixed with EVOO, salt, and pepper. The Mista salad, a fresh mix of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and walnuts with a balsamic vinaigrette and the Greco salad, with Romaine lettuce, Feta cheese, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber with EVOO and lemon vinaigrette, are safe choices as well.
With requested adaptations, you can also order the Caesar and Spinach (spinach, egg, tomato, bacon, Gorgonzola cheese, garlic and red wine vinaigrette dressing) salads. For the Caesar salad, request no croutons. Request no Gorgonzola cheese on the Spinach salad if you are sensitive to it or do not feel comfortable eating it. If you’d prefer a veggie side rather than a salad, both the zucchini, roasted with balsamic vinaigrette, and the spinach, cooked in garlic and EVOO, are excellent, safe choices.
360 Uno doesn’t offer gluten-free pasta at this time. The owners and kitchen manager plan to add it to the menu one day soon when a variety can be cooked and worked into their kitchen system without a concern for cross contamination. The wait staff accommodates most menu requests. They have been trained to understand the menu prep and gluten-free needs. Most of them and the managers have worked at the restaurant for several years, so there is a consistency of service. If you have questions that the staff can’t answer, the manager or Al Fini, the owner, will come to your table to talk and evaluate your concerns.
Most of the entrées are gluten free. These recipes are from family favorites and traditional Italian cooking like so many of the other menu items. Flour is not used in any of the sauces or spices. There are several types of chicken dishes to consider: Cacciatore with a breast sauced in mushrooms, onion roasted peppers, olives, and garlic; Piccata joined by capers, lemon, white wine, and artichokes; and Arrabbiata, nestled in a spicy cream sauce, prosciutto, smoked bacon, and mushrooms. If dairy is an issue, the Chicken Gorgonzola (chicken and spinach in a gorgonzola cream sauce) can be made with the Arrabiata sauce instead of the creamy cheese sauce upon request.
All of the seafood is fresh. If the dish is not gluten free, it can be adapted. The tilapia is served with sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and basil on a bed of zucchini. Wild-caught salmon is roasted on spinach with capers, butter, and garlic. The Frutti di Mare – a congregation of shrimp, mussels, squid, and clams swimming in spicy tomato sauce – and the buttered garlic Scampi can be requested without spaghettini.
The gluten-free desserts available here are an assortment of gelatos and sorbettos made at the restaurant. The cases in the osteria contain beautiful pastries and cakes from Bindi of Italy, but unfortunately none of them are gluten free. There are coffees and teas available to conclude your meal, whether you include a dessert or not.
But there’s more. While the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, it now opens early most days for breakfast. Besides offering coffees, teas, and other drinks, they offer juice-based smoothies and platters of egg dishes that are safe to eat if you request no ciabatta bread. Due Uova is two fresh, scrambled eggs with potatoes and a choice of meat. Both the potatoes and the bacon are gluten-free choices. The kitchen roasts its potatoes using olive oil and their gluten-free spices. They also fry the bacon in the kitchen; it is not pre-made. You have a similar choice in Uno’s Combo, which comes with eggs any style, cheese, sausage, ham, bacon, and potatoes. Again, the kitchen can adapt the order to avoid any unsafe or dietary items.
On Saturdays and Sundays 360 Uno Trattoria has a brunch available, too. They offer breakfast pizzas on gluten-free crusts as requested. These pizzas have three different gluten-free toppings for consideration: Frittata 4 Formaggi (omelet with mozzarella, provolone, goat, and gorgonzola cheeses), Frittata Margherita (omelet with fresh Mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil), and Frittata Prosciutto e Fromaggi (omelet with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese). For an indulgent brunch, the restaurant offers brunch cocktails made with Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine) and fruit juices (peach, grape, orange, and strawberry).
This is a well-rounded restaurant for gluten-free diners. It’s a place where friends, business associates, teenagers, and families gather to commune at different times of the day. Comfortable and adaptable, it is a restaurant that serves food and congeniality for every dining need and occasion. (OM 03/10)
360 Uno Trattoria