I recently talked to David Snyder about his new restaurant on the San Antonio River Walk named Bella on the River. He has friends in the gluten-free community and was eager to figure out which of his menu items would be safe for those who require a strict gluten-free diet.
Bella on the River features southern European, mostly Mediterranean food with a well-paired wine list.
We went over the menu and after reading many labels and lists of ingredients, we found there are quite a few items to choose from. Although they have two fryers, one is dedicated to seafood and the other is for non-seafood. Unfortunately, both fryers are used with battered items, so anything that involves the fryer is not safe for us. Here are my suggestions.
Marcona Almonds and Greek Olives is one choice, and two others that can be ordered without the toast are Bruschetta with Wild Mushroom Cream and Whipped Gorgonzola and Vine-Ripe Diced Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil.
One of the featured appetizers is Eggplant Josephine. A gluten-free version can be ordered, and the chef will grill the slab of eggplant rather than fry it. It is topped with Sautéed Texas Gulf Shrimp, Sauce Diablo, Mozzarella Cheese, and a last layer of Hollandaise Sauce. Each of these layers are gluten free, and they make a very tasty combination. I sampled the gluten-free version, and I assure you I will order it again the next time I am there.
There is a Bella Duo with Warm Hummus and Cool Tzatziki which can be served with cut vegetables instead of grilled flatbread.
The House Salad with Mixed Greens, Greek Feta, and Raspberry Vinaigrette can be ordered without the candied walnuts, which are not gluten free. Caesar Salad is another choice; remind your waitperson to leave off the croutons. Spinach Salad with sliced mushrooms, chopped egg, pancetta, and red onions is served with a bacon vinaigrette.
Main courses that are gluten free include:
With each of the above main courses you can add one side dish. Your best bet will be Seasonal Fresh Vegetables. Flour is added to the Rosemary n Garlic Roasted Red Potatoes so don’t order that item. Sometimes there will be a Starch Du Jour that will be gluten free so ask what is available when you are there.
There are five desserts on the menu, and two of them involve chocolate and are gluten free. These are the Turron de Chocolate y Almendras and the Chocolate Fondant Cake with Orange Raspberry Sauce. The cake is more like a mousse; it has no flour at all.
There is a wine list by the glass or bottle, and they also offer red or white fresh made Sangria. Port and Sherry, along with coffee, tea, soft drinks, and San Pellegrino are available.
On the day I went to talk to owner David Snyder and Chef Sean Fletcher, I got halfway downtown before I realized I didn’t know where I was going! We all know how to get to the River Walk, but I was not sure where to park. Of course, if you were staying at a downtown hotel you could find the address, 106 River Walk, easily. But for those of us driving a car and wanting to park as close as possible to the restaurant, it is good to know where you are going before you start out. There is a helpful map on the website, and it is good to know that the city street parking is free after 6 pm if you are lucky enough to find a parking meter. Otherwise, David recommends the Market Street Garage at 421 W Market Street.
David and his staff are eager to please the gluten-free community, so don’t hesitate to ask for him or the Dining Room Manager, Angela Toscano. (AB September 2011)
Bella on the River