“There’s nothing more romantic than Italian food.”—Elisha Cuthbert
It was my turn to pick a restaurant. My husband, John, and I were visiting Charlottesville, VA, celebrating the 28th anniversary of our wedding. We had walked nearly five miles along a section of the Rihanna River on the Rivanna Trail near the Woolen Mills Village Historic District that morning. Later in the afternoon, we ambled around and along Charlottesville Historic Pedestrian Downtown Mall, which also happens to be one of the longest pedestrian malls in the United States. All told that day, we walked over 11 miles! Plus, earlier in the morning, I had completed a 30 minutes yoga practice. I say all of that to say, I WAS HUNGRY!
While I had taken in plenty of water that day, as it was super-humid and hot, and had noshed three protein/vitamin rich fuelings, I was certainly ready for a healthy meal. However, eating out for me is often tricky, at least around home, because I have celiac disease; and thus, I should not consume wheat, barely, or rye products, aka gluten. No worries in Charlottesville, VA though! John hopped on Trip Advisor, and within seconds, we had an array of choices—all offering gluten-free selections! From burger joints to pizza spots; from Chinese to Thai; from Mexican to Italian; truly, my choices were nearly limitless. Ultimately, I chose Travinia, an Italian Kitchen.
In addition to searching for gluten-free choices, John has further become a sleuthhound for restaurants with happy hour specials, and Travinia was no exception. In fact, their happy hour was held for a rather long period when compared to other dining venues as it is from 4:00-7:00, Monday through Friday. Therefore, we made sure to arrive around 5:30 or so.
Many diners mistakenly think that happy hour only means alcoholic drink specials; however, our travel experience has taught us this is, in fact, not true. Most well established restaurants, especially in a competitive market, offer various drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and food specials during happy hour! That said, these eateries might require the diner to sit in the bar or patio area, but you are not obligated to drink. Travinia, did in fact offer discounted drink specials, including 25% off wine bottles, but the restaurant also had numerous $5.00 food choices, including mussels, fondue, flatbread, crab sliders, and a weekly chef special.
Walking into the restaurant, we were immediately drawn to its simplicity, beauty, and spaciousness. Stone and caramel colored wood adorned most of the walls, interior and exterior, as well as the patio. Expansive windows also lined the walls while the bar was a long, curved crescent. The ambiance was warm, inviting, and fragrant. Our attentive, friendly servers on this particular evening were Katie and Sarah.
Scanning the menu, it was clear John and I had a challenge ahead of us as there were so many tasty offerings, and that included copious gluten-free choices. While we perused the menu, we were served freshly made bread with a side of seasoned olive oil. Sadly, it was not gluten free, but John enjoyed it immensely!
Ultimately, we began our meal with two abundant sized, vibrantly colored (and these were supposedly the small portion) salads piled with local, fresh mixed greens, tomatoes, shredded carrots, and cucumber. All dressings were made fresh in the house. I tried their balsamic vinaigrette, while John tried a warm pancetta dressing—both were outstanding! Next, for dinner, I enjoyed a rustic gluten-free, tomato-based pasta dish in which the pasta didn’t taste pasty, or powdery, as gluten-free pastas often do. Meanwhile, John chose a BBQ chicken flatbread with a side of made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese—one of his all times favorites. While I could only eat half of my serving, John did just fine with the amount he was served, as the flatbreads were not oversized, but just right!
We did not walk away from Travinia hungry on that night. What’s more, I often have digestive issues when dining out due to something called, cross-contamination. This is when gluten is accidentally slipped into my food due to an unclean kitchen, chefs not changing gloves when switching from preparing a dish with gluten to a dish without gluten, or gluten particles, such as flour, floating in the air and landing on my gluten free dish. However, I had absolutely no issues later that night, or the next morning! What’s more, we were fueled, but not over-full, and ready for our following day of adventure!
John and I send much appreciation and gratitude to Katie, Sarah, the chefs, and staff at Travinia on June 13, 2017 for an outstanding, gluten-free, and scrumptious dinner experience. We hope to return one day! In the meantime, if you are ever in Charlottesville, VA, and enjoy dining on sumptuous Italian food, I encourage you to try Travinia.