It's important to note that a big run in Media was also taking place last night, the Media 5-miler. Roads were closed, traffic was snarled and parking was scarce. Big kudos to Cathy and Karen who ventured far from their home territories to join the group and who then got met with big Friday evening travel headaches! Matt had given me the heads up that reservations were definitely needed because the place gets packed. I'd also heard that it gets loud. When I saw all of the happenings in town, I worried about my group mates and I was afraid that even though I had made a reservation that we'd have a wait for a table for 8. As the organizer of the meetup I don't want anyone to have a lousy experience, so I had a little anxiety. I give that as context to note that the restaurant was lovely, we were seated right away at a big table on the 3rd floor (wouldn't have been very good if we'd had anybody with mobility issues, since it's up a spiral staircase), we had no trouble having our typical lively conversation, and our food came out fast! The only downside was that our server was not very up on the gluten-free status of foods and drinks, and when the wrong drink with suspect ingredients was delivered and tasted by one of our group, the server glibly replied, "Well, you only took a sip," with the implication being, "How sick could you get from that?" NOT the thing to say to a group of people who have congregated at a place specifically because we believe that we can eat there and NOT get sick.
At any rate, the food arrived. My pizza pictured below was not quite so red as it looks -- night had fallen, ambiance had risen, and it was served on a red plate. the crust was thin as gluten-free crusts tend to be, and it did have a little crust-burn, also not unusual for gluten-free pizza. It had an interesting flavor and was a little on the sweet side -- whether it was the sauce, cabbage or crust I'm not sure -- but it was very good. I'm usually not a big fan of sweet pizza, but this was light and delicate and nice. The crust was bendy, which I like, the flavors blended well, it wasn't heavy cheesy. The flavor a cabbage wasn't detectable specifically, so if that would freak you out, have no fear. the gluten-free pizzas were 12-inches (and cost $1 more), and because this was thin and light, I had no trouble eating the whole thing, with the exception of a small slice I shared with Karen (she and I were both at the Tomato Bistro meetup, so she wanted to compare.) For me, I think I liked the flavor of the Ariano pizza better, but the Tomato Bistro crust is more substantial and more like pizza I'm used to from my pre-celiac-diagnosis days.
Many of us, me included, had the gelato. At $2.50 for a single scoop, it was almost a no-brainer. A few folks were waxing poetic about and ordered the lemon basil, which sounded nice, but I have to admit that I have a little bias against basil or other green foods in my ice cream. I went with the hazelnut, which was a perfect end to the meal. Maybe next time I'll venture out into lemon basil land.
I will definitely eat at Ariano again for a date night, but not for family dining. The options were a bit too "too" for my "give me more bread sticks and salad and soup at Olive Garden" skinny boys, who eat by volume and weight and not by interesting flavor combinations. The restaurant is nice, the cost for dinner for two is reasonable, and Media is a fun town to walk about and see what's going on. I recommend it!