New Feature: Gluten Free Gourmand – A Visit To Barracks Row’s Lavagna
by Larry Janezich
As diners increasingly request gluten-free options by necessity or choice, more and more restaurants are accommodating the demand by offering dishes free of the protein contained in wheat, barley and rye.
Lavagna, which opened in 2011 in the space formerly occupied by the Starfish Café on Barracks Row, is a step ahead of the 8th Street competition in this regard, providing numerous gluten-free options on its menu.
The house-made pastas at Lavagna include gluten-free options which are handmade from scratch on a daily basis, the whim of the chef deciding whether the day’s offering will be penne or rigatoni. The dishes which would accommodate the gluten-free pasta include the meatball and marinara sauce; Bolognese house meat sauce; and the pesto with basil, pine nuts and house Italian sausage.
A non-pasta gluten-free option is the risotto with crimini and hen of the wood mushrooms and mascarpone. The restaurant also serves the northern Italy staple, polenta, in the form of a parmesan polenta cake that can be ordered in place of the pasta. In addition to gluten-free salads, the starters include a free-range grass fed short rib served with horseradish cheese polenta. There is also an impressive list of house cured meats and cheeses for the charcuterie board served with house preserves, olives and pickled vegetables – hold the crostini, though. The crème brulee dessert is gluten-free. The menu changes frequently with new offerings or modifications of dishes already on the menu, “depending on how it’s working” according to our server.
Ingredients are sourced from local farms which are listed on chalkboards (lavagna, meaning chalkboard, but also the name of a fishing village on the Italian Riviera) on the walls of the restaurant.
The bar offers $9 craft cocktails many featuring in house made infusions such as raspberry vodka, lemoncello, orangecello, basil tequila, and pineapple rum. Local craft beer is $6. Wines by the glass are $7-$11, by the bottle $26-$94.
Owner Steve Cheung’s family also owns Fusion, just down Barracks Row.
Lunch, Tuesday – Friday 11:30 – 2:30
Dinner, Tuesday – Sunday 4:30 – 10:00
Brunch Saturday – Sunday 11:30 – 2:30
539 8th Street, SE
202 546 5006