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Italian without Garlic?

I know it sounds odd, but I'm looking for an Italian restaurant to take guests in October. Since they moved to Florida they haven't had good Italian in awhile and requested it. However I am running into some problems. I need place that can prepare dishes without garlic, takes reservations, and preferrably in Cambridge (but willing to go to North End). Entrees <$20. Is this possible? Would Gran Gusto work?

Thanks in advance

And going along with the no garlic, do you think that Oleana or the Helmand would work?

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  1. When I go to any Italian restaurant, I always ask if they can prepare the dish with no garlic or go very light on the garlic, and they can usually accomodate. I can't stand the stuff- traumatized tastebuds long ago, a story for another time. But my point is that the special request re: no garlic should not be a major problem if you are making reservations in advance. I would think most places, especially non-chains, would be able to make a pot of sauce sans garlic for your group if they want your business. Ditto, on the request that the bread not be "garlic bread." Keep it simple, but give them ample notice on the need. BTW, I have no complaints about the Italian restaurants I have sampled around Florida...
    And good luck!

      1. re: Taralli

        Looks good. I'll have to add to my list of possibilities. I have two sets of parents to entertain in Oct, both wanting Italian. Luckily only one with limitations.

      2. Mrs. Alcachofa is not a huge fan of garlic, and she loves Gran Gusto and Grotto.

        I think as long as you stay away from the cliche-ridden spots in the North End, you'll be fine.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Alcachofa

          Thanks. I was leaning towards Gran Gusto. I have had a pleasant meal there. Just worried that since I'm dealing with a garlic allergy and not a dislike, that it might be difficult.

          1. re: viperlush

            i like Gran Gusto and would add La Morra as they seem flexible to me and likely to be attentive to an allergy, as would Erbaluce.

            1. re: teezeetoo

              Flexible is what I'm looking for. I really need to stop looking at these menus, I'm getting hungry.

        2. Americans do overdo the garlic. Marcella Hazan, the queen of Italian cooking, was interviewed on a visit to Boston a few years ago. Here's an excerpt:

          Q: What is the biggest mistake we [Americans] still make in cooking Italian food?
          A. Too much garlic! Too much ruins everything. We say in Italy that what you keep out is as important as what you put in.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BobB

            I would have thought the answer was overcooking pasta ...

          2. I wildly guess that Oleana will be tougher, since many purees and whatnot are made ahead of time. With good Italian, they'll have several dishes with ready-yet-unassembled core ingredients. On the other hand, I'd also imagine that Oleana would enthusiastically, accurately report about garlic in dishes.

            How about Olivio, in Arlington?

            1. As for any restaurant ,just call a few days in advance and inform the of the (garlic )allergy. A" heads up" will most likely broaden the / increase the possibilities of dishes offered .Last minute allergy ( esp garlic/ onion, gluten, etc) can be dealt with when the prep is done earlier in the day.
              As for no,garlic at The Helmand, or Oleana. I think only if you call in advance.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kewpie

                Yeah, we let the restaurant know when making the reservation so it is not last minute. As someone mentioned above, what I am looking for are restaurants that are flexible.

              2. I would narrow your list of choices and then call them directly. A mom of one of my son's classmates is allergic to garlic, anaphylactic (sp?) allergic, and she has never had an issue at any place in Boston. Some places will tell her they can't prepare specific dishes without 48 hours notices] but that is an exception, not a rule.

                1 Reply
                1. Update: Took them to Gran Gusto Friday night. It was a success. Only weak dish was our grilled calamari appetizer. All four of us thought that it was pretty salty. Didn't stop us from clearing the plate though. Seafood risotto special was made without garlic and with. I'm assuming that they enjoyed it. Despite claiming it was too hot to eat, no tastes were offered and both bowls were scraped clean. We two who ordered fish also enjoyed our dishes. Although I did think that if I'm spending $27 on fish, there are other places I'd rather go. Thanks again for the suggestions.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: viperlush

                    So glad you all had a good meal and a good time! And thanks for the follow up! Many Chowhounds seek opinions, suggestions, and advice, and then drop the ball about letting the rest of us know how it all turned out- so I really appreciate your post. BTW, Any time my wife sees Calamari on a menu, she makes her traditional "fried rubber bands" joke and we continue studying the menu for other items to order.

                    1. re: Florida Hound

                      Could not agree more with your comments about follow-up posts. But as to the "rubber bands" joke, that just means she's never had fresh calamari cooked properly. It should be anything but rubbery if it's fresh and cooked by a skilled chef!

                      1. re: CapeCodGuy

                        Amen, it is always great to hear back and enjoyable to hear how things worked out.

                        As far as calimari - my only requirement for consideration is are there tenticles with the rings? If not, I'll pass.

                          1. re: Bellachefa

                            Exactly, how an you tell that it's calamari without the tentacles? Both the calamari Friday at GG and tonight at Rendezvous were soft and not all all chewy. Good amount of tentacles as well.

                    2. I'm really glad to see this post. My sweetheart lives near the North End, but he can't have garlic. Every time I come to visit, all I can think about is Italian food! I would love to know if there were any places near the North End that could accommodate. Thanks, Alcachofa & Mrs. for the Gran Gusto and Grotto recommendations. I'm glad to find options for us to both enjoy!!