The Place So Nice We Went There Twice - Cinquecento (Boston)
It's a relief to find a restaurant that's both cool and truly allergy-friendly, especially when you're not on your own turf. Many a time I've been turned away from the hottest place because their kitchen is too small, they don't want to take the risk, or the menu is too nut or dairy-based. And all of these reasons are completely understandable. That's why I often end up eating in chain restaurants that have standard processes in place to deal with allergies. BUT it does make it all the more refreshing when the cool local spot can serve me safely. Karrie and I visited Cinquencento not once but twice because we were instantly smitten. And not just with the food but the decor too.
We first ate there for dinner where I had a plate of seared fish and greens. Initially I had ordered a pasta but they were worried about cross-contact with the tomato sauce. When the server mentions cross-contamination without my having to ask, it makes me extremely happy because it means they really get it and that they care. And I don't have to prod into all the details of whether something may have touched this or that, or whether the kitchen thinks I'm lactose intolerant instead of anaphylactic. I'd actually like to start a rewards system and any time I say "serious allergy" and the other person doesn't say, "oh, lactose intolerance", they'll get a frigging ginormous star. So dinner was delicious and we stayed there long into the night drinking wine and sharing memories. The lighting was a little dim for me but only due to my anxiety as I couldn't see well enough to dissect my food before eating it as I usually do. But... maybe that was for the best. I really shouldn't need to perform an autopsy at the start of every meal.
We heard that they were known for serving a mean brunch so the next day off we went to the south end of Boston, back to this lofty restaurant for another Roman meal. It was a fair distance from our hotel which was located in the financial district, so by the time we arrived we were both starving.
This time we sat outside on the private patio overlooking the outdoor artisan market which we visited afterwards. I was seriously surprised and delighted to see that they served one of my FAVORITE things - linguine with a fried egg on top. What's that you say? Fried egg on pasta? Yes my friends, it is glorious. The pasta was tossed with garlic, good olive oil, and some greens, then topped with a runny fried egg. Poke the yolk and let it coat the noodles for a rich and filling breakfast. Serve it with bold coffee and a mimosa and your day is off to the perfect start. Once again they were very diligent about my allergies and were sure to clarify that there was no butter or cheese used in the dish.
I highly recommend you check out Cinquecento the next time you're in Boston. For tasty Roman food, a hip environment, and great customer service.