How a bread-loving vegetarian and her meat-eating, gluten-avoiding friend dined peacefully at one restaurant

How a bread-loving vegetarian and her meat-eating, gluten-avoiding friend dined peacefully at one restaurant
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This entire meal was comped (thanks, Vivace) but I actually do feel this strongly about brussels sprouts even when I buy them myself. No one asked me to write anything. I’m writing because I liked it.

Jen is my ride or die adventurous friend who will eat pretty much anything but gluten. As long as it’s not bread, she’s down.

Jen and Katie

One time she went dead silent for like 10 minutes while eating a dessert so she could appreciate it. In Vegas she ate a taco full of duck tongues. She buys weird sacks of frozen water creatures at the Super G. One time she snatched a crab off the beach with her bare hand like a ninja. She didn’t eat that particular crab but I’ve seen her eat lots of other ones.

I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years. I haven’t willingly eaten a thing with a face or claws or a tongue since before I could drive. I don’t go anywhere near sea creatures. I still sometimes gag at the thought of the duck tongue taco. Bread is my favorite food. Basically Jen and I are culinary polar opposites but last week both of us with our high-maintenance diets somehow managed to eat really well at the same place.

Vivace Charlotte

Vivace may be known for its homemade pasta, pizza and cured meats, but the contemporary Italian trattoria is surprisingly accommodating of specialty diets, so much so that they actually have separate gluten-free and vegetarian menus. Didn’t see that one coming. Jackpot.

Vivace Charlotte

We started with cocktails and a cheese plate. I had the Blueberry Caipirinha and we both tried the Immigrato. The cocktails were perfect but the cheese was too funky for me so Jen ate that and I ate the bread and that’s why we’re friends. Teamwork.

Vivace cocktail

Vivace cheese and cocktails

For dinner I went with the Tuscan kale salad with fig balsamic vinaigrette and the brussels sprouts with black pepper cream, grilled peaches and ricotta salata.

I’m actually really glad my photo of the kale salad looks like actual crap so that you won’t order it and there will be more for me. I almost went back the next day to get it again. Seriously. It’s hearty and satisfying in a way kale is rarely delivered. Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians don’t just eat plain leaves.

kale salad Vivace

Brussels sprouts are a perfect food and I eat them at home at least three times a week. But where I can only seem to oil oil, salt and roast them in the oven, Vivace dresses them up fancy-pants style with an explosion of sweet, salty, creamy flavors that were, in a word, perfect.

Make sure you ask for it without pancetta. I had to send mine back for a pancetta-free remake, but that’s the story of my life. There’s bacon in everything.

brussels sprouts Vivace

Jen had the caprese salad and and grilled octopus. Here we got with the sea creatures…

Vivace caprese salad

Vivace grilled octopus

As a vegetarian, I’d expect to walk into an Italian place and be offered a hideous bowl of sticky alfredo pasta or some kind of thing made out of mushrooms so I was really impressed with what was available to me at Vivace. Even more impressive was the fact that my friend who doesn’t eat pizza or pasta also had plenty to choose from.

High fives all around.

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