Gluten-free Italian Done Right at North Italia!

With the holiday season officially upon us, that means we are busier than ever. Whether you are juggling work or school with parties, shopping, cooking, writing Christmas cards, making lists and checking them twice (see what I did there?), it’s always important to take time out for yourself. And, at The Point here in LA in El Segundo, they are making that super easy.

A beautiful shopping and dining mecca, The Point is definitely a great place to bring the entire family or have a date night, but also perfect when you need to get your hustle and bustle done this month and take a break. My recommendation for some incredible food in between your shopping? North Italia Restaurant.

Established in 2002, North Italia may be a “chain” yet their pasta and pizza dough are made from scratch daily. They also boast an incredible full service bar with hand-made cocktails and a terrific wine list.

When Michael and I were invited to experience North Italia and their gluten-free menu, we showed up on a busy Saturday evening. We were warmly welcomed by Eric, North Italia’s General Manager, and were seated promptly. With nice heated lamps on their patio, we had a cozy table nestled near the entrance of the shopping plaza and enjoyed the ambiance and people watching.

Grilled Artichoke

With our trusty waitress, Morgan, taking care of us, we were anxious to check out some appetizers and decided on their grilled artichoke dusted with sea salt, truffle, Parmesan cheese and a to die for lemon aioli sauce, Mike and I made quick work of this starter dish. Grilled to perfection, we even attempted to recreate this at home shortly after our date night. Verdict? Just head to North Italia 😉

As we moved onto entrees–we truly struggled with this one. From the traditional offerings like spaghetti and meatballs to unique plates like their bacon and eggs pizza, we came to the conclusion that we would each get a dish to split and get the best of both worlds with their gluten-free dishes. While I was quite interested to try out their Squid Ink Mafaldine (with white shrimp, calamari, acqua pizza, mint, fennel pollen and calabrian chili), this dish cannot be prepared gluten-free unless you omit the squid ink. Seeing no purpose in that without getting the main ingredient, I ordered their Funghi pizza (with roasted mushroom, cipollini onion and smoked mozzarella) while Mike got the gluten-free Strozzapreti pasta (with chicken, roasted mushroom, spinach, toasted pine nut and Parmesan cream sauce).

Like most eateries, their gluten-free pasta and dough is not made in-house. Nonetheless, I loved my pizza despite that it was the thin crust common to Northern Italy. The smoked mozzarella was everything–full of flavor and it was my first time having a smoked cheese on a pizza. When our meals were delivered to us, I knew that it was a good sign that the busser said that’s his favorite pizza, despite he doesn’t like mushrooms!

Funghi PIzza
Strozzapreti Pasta
Salted Caramel Budino

Much like the cheese, the Parmesan cream sauce was fantastic on the Strozzapreti. I love pine nuts, and this tasted like a very traditional Italian plate. When Morgan inquired as to which was my favorite–I originally said the pasta. By the time she returned, I’d switched to the pizza. Who can choose with so much gluten-free and cheese goodness in front of me?!

While taking in all of this goodness, we each enjoyed a glass of Eos Estate’s (Central Coast) Cabernet Sauvignon. Keep in mind, Mike is not usually a red wine person. It was that good and went down smooth with our dishes.

As usual, we were stuffed when Morgan asked us those 3 common, deadly words: Room for dessert? Since Morgan and Eric had been so incredibly hospitable, they insisted on us trying at-least 1 gluten-free dessert item. We decided on Eric’s recommendation of their Salted Caramel Budino. A traditional Italian pudding treat, I would make it a point to go frequently to North Italia just to have a bowl of this sweet treat with a cup of coffee or espresso. Rich, creamy, decadent–any caramel lover will go wild for this.

I cannot thank North Italia enough for their generosity and hospitality. If you are in the mood for some Italian cuisine along with impeccable service, North Italia is your new favorite place. Head on out to The Point this season to do some shopping, and treat yourself to a bowl of pasta or a pizza pie and some dessert!

(*Disclosure: I was a media guest for North Italia. All opinions are my own.
Photography: Michael Farah.)