Several Forest Park and Oak Park restaurants are taking the extra step and becoming savvy and responsible business owners by choosing to include both vegetarian and gluten-free options on their menus.

Many diners who are affected by Celiac Disease are constantly seeking restaurants that provide both healthy and safe meal options. Celiac Disease is an allergy to foods that contain gluten, which is found in barley, wheat and rye.

There are many Italian restaurants in the area, but Italian cuisine is generally steeped in gluten-rich ingredients. That said, Italian eateries that offer gluten-free options are a treat for those with food allergies.

“I was going to some block parties in the Oak Park area and we got some feedback from some people who were not coming to our restaurant anymore because one of their children or someone in their family…were on a gluten-free diet. And they felt it was kind of a negative to come to an Italian restaurant where everyone’s eating pizza and things like that, where the person in their family was unable to participate,” said Bill Quick, the owner of Trattoria 225.

Trattoria 225, at 225 Harrison St. in Oak Park, offers several gluten-free options on its menu at no extra cost. Quick feels there shouldn’t be a price difference because he’s providing a service for his customers and it doesn’t cost that much more to render. The popular vegetarian dishes, pasta primavera and eggplant lasagna, are part of Trattoria’s gluten-free menu. 

“We started looking at the rest of the menu, and we decided that since we make all of our sauces, and we make everything in house, that we could easily convert everything on our menu to gluten-free,” Quick added.

In Forest Park, Francesca’s Fiore, at 7407 Madison St., has a special gluten-free menu that includes spaghetti with asparagus, risotto with mushrooms, lava cake, beer, and coming soon, a list of liquor. In addition to their gluten-free options, Francesca’s provides vegetarians with a flexible menu with fresh tastes.

Bua Hana at 7330 Madison St., offers vegetarian fare such as fried tofu, vegetable Thai fried rice, vegetable egg roll, hot and spicy basil tofu and various vegetable sushi rolls. 

Francesca’s changes their menu biweekly; and at Trattoria, twenty-five percent of the menu is vegetarian.

“If you are vegetarian, you can design any kind of dish that you want. If we have it in house, we have the ingredients, we’ll make it,” said Kimberly Kamka, General Manager of Francesca’s, in regards to satisfying vegetarian clientele.