For a Brit, visiting our 'cousins across the pond' would on the face of it seem one of the easier trips to make if looking for gluten free food. However, in a strange place it is often hard to find somewhere but rest assured, someone will have been there before.
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Manhattan, New York City (NYC) View On Map
I learned about Pappardella on twitter a few weeks ago and have been excited to try it ever since (see, twitter can serve a purpose). I've been meaning to eat healthier recently, but tonight I accidentally ate gluten free garlic bread, gluten free bruschetta with a fava bean spread, gluten free pasta bolognese, and flourless chocolate cake with hazelnut gelato and caramel sauce. Oh, and my brother had the gluten free salmon dish and I tried some of that too. Oops! Don't worry, we shared it all but the pasta.
But here's the thing, with all their gluten free options, I had a hard time deciding. The gluten free menu was huge and covered everything from appetizers and salads, to pizza and pasta, to meat and fish, to dessert. They use Schar for their pasta, and I'm pretty sure their bread as well. The gluten free substitutes were pretty good, but next time I would be interested in trying one of their naturally gluten free dishes such as their grilled rack of grass fed Austrailian lamb with caramelized cipollini onions, and creamy parmesan polenta, or the grilled NY strip steak served with a port wine reduction and garlic mashed potatoes. And after that I'd like to try their pizza.
The Wild Tomato
The Wild Tomato is a small family owned and operated restaurant that does take out, delivery, and catering. They specialize in pizza, grinders, and pastas. 97% of their menu can be made gluten free. I tried the Little Italy gluten free pizza. It was great. What I especially liked about it was the tomato sauce. I'd also be interested in trying the Sausage and Peppers pasta and one of the sandwiches.
For those of you that only like to eat at certified gluten free restaurants, this place is certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) and seems to really understand and care about food allergies. Between the good food, friendly staff, and gluten free assurances of this place, I would definitely come back. I suggest you try it too.
Being Valentine's Day, we started off with drinks. The champagne was poured in a glass with ice. They also have New Planet GF beer in case that sounds like a better beverage to wash down a gyro or plate of pizza. While we deliberated over the menu (which doesn't have GF items marked but, as the server explained, most of their items can be made gluten free) we relaxed and soaked up the intimate atmosphere. The server was cheerful and attentive in a motherly way, making sure that all her customers were happy. The live accordion music was unexpected but amazing (they have regular live music on the weekends).
Once we finally made up our minds and ordered, it wasn't long before the large portions of thoughtfully seasoned and delicious food arrived. The Greek salad was crisp, fresh, and flavorful. The pizza (with locally made Fusion Flour crust) was by far the best gluten-free pizza I've had in Spokane outside my own kitchen. And the gyro, a Fusion Flour gluten-free pita stuffed with rich strips of lamb and fist-drippingly drenched in delicious tasiziki, was reminiscent of the gyro stands we ate at in Greece back before I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. The opportunity to try so many different, flavorful dishes that you can't find anywhere else in gluten free form in the Spokane area makes Opa! a must try for anyone on a gluten restricted diet. Our meal at Opa! made for a memorable Valentine's Day date that we continued to enjoy via leftovers the following day. The food and the experience were nothing short of fantastic.
We decided to start with the Arancini, a plate of fried risotto balls filled with spinach and mozzarella cheese and made it in a dedicated gluten free fryer. It's rare that I stumble across a gluten free fryer so I knew I had to order up something that was fried to take full advantage of the opportunity. For our entrees we ordered a smorgasbord of food. For pasta we ordered the Tonnarelli, prepared with fusilli pasta, porcini mushrooms, parmigiano cheese, parsley and rosemary. For our pizza selection we ordered a Bufala Cruda, made with buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato sauce; a Fungata, prepared with porcini, portebello and shitake mushrooms, and assorted cheeses; and finally a Spinaci topped with spinach, ricotta, cherry tomato sauce, mozzarella, and garlic.
Not too shabby of an order, eh? Needless to say, we did quite a number on the pizzas and pasta leaving barely any to take home. I think the best part of my meal was hearing each of the girls say that they couldn't differentiate the gluten free pizza from gluten-filled pizzas they had eaten in the past. The crust was delicious, flavorful, and unlike many of the overly crunchy and thin gluten free pizzas that I often encounter.
I loved everything about Pala, from the superb waitstaff, delicious food, and unique options available to gluten free eaters; perhaps best of all was the wonderful company. I can't wait to go back to Pala and explore the enormous gluten free menu... I already have my eye on a few options for my next visit!
Do you love it or do you love it?
Scottadito Osteria Toscana
The verdict? Well, I was starving after all that dragging kids up the snowy hill, so I thought it was great. But I also had a lovely little lady snow sport-ing with us try it, to make sure it tasted like pasta for the norms. Sam said it totally did. So there you have it, Celiacs. If you're heading to the slopes in Mt. Baldy, feel free to stop into Eddie's. It's around the corner from Patty's.
Le Pain Quotidien
Last weekend I was meeting a friend for a quick lunch before a movie and we decided to go to Le Pain Quotidien near the movie theater. I hadn't been in years, and I wasn't expecting anything other than a salad, but lo and behold they have a few options for us gluten free folks after all. I tried the chicken curry salad tartine served on gluten free crackers instead of bread. It was pretty good. They also have a six-vegetable quiche served on a gluten free buckwheat crust that I would be interested in trying. Their salads are also safe without the bread and I bet if you asked really nice they'd give you some of those gluten free crackers with it. Maybe. With several locations in New York City, and in other places around the county and globe, Le Pain Quotidien provides another good light lunch option.
Wild Sage Bistro
The appetizer selection was also tempting with items like a Poblano-Artichoke Dip, Tapas Sampler and White Cheese Fondue. We picked the sampler, and for my veggie friend, they adjusted the plate. We were melting in our chairs with goat cheese, olives and artichokes, pears poached in wine and cloves, house made crackers, and sweet chili shrimp. Each bite was amazing. The kitchen is also willing to modify other items on the regular menu whenever possible and in our case the server suggested a gluten-free and vegetarian dish, lentil cakes with roasted vegetables, that wasn't even on their menu. That sounded perfect. Our meal arrived with two generous cakes that held their shape on the plate beautifully. The flavors were delicate enough to pick out specific ingredients. The lentil cakes were served with a warm, savory tomato sauce and a side of roasted root veggies.
Although we really didn't have room for more food, the coconut cake sounded too good to pass up. The white cake came sitting in liliquoi sauce. The tart flavor of the sauce paired perfectly with the sweet cake, and the toasted coconut flakes added a nice delicate crunch. An amazing finale to a perfect gluten-free dinner.
Firefly Studio City
Now they have, courtesy of a local gluten free Seattle pasta maker. Cafe Piccolo is now serving gluten free lasagna, spaghetti, ravioli, fettucines, bread, and various other gluten free meat dishes. They do gluten free so well, you'd never know it was gluten free! I was supremely full by the time I left and even as I write this I'm excited to visit them again and taste their delicious food.
Romano's Macaroni Grill
I am very impressed with their gluten free options. They offer gluten free chicken tenders made with a tempura type batter. The French fries are also gluten free, fried, upon request, in clean fresh oil uncontaminated with gluten. Sammy let me try one and I have to admit, they were very good. They serve Udi's bread for a gluten free sandwich option. All their salad dressings are gluten free and they have gluten free breadcrumbs and soy sauce. For breakfast, they also make gluten free pancakes and waffles. They even serve Red Bridge gluten free beer.
However over my winter break this changed! Rocco's is now serving Gluten-free meals and pizza. This is something fairly new for the restaurant, and they are in the process of developing a menu. The exciting part of it all is they are doing gluten-free the right way. They are taking measures to avoid cross contamination, have separate cooking equipment, and prepare GF meals in a separate part of the kitchen!
The people that work at Rocco's are so personal (they know my family by name). They were so accommodating to me, and willingly answered any questions I had. They are able to make many of the items on their regular menu GF, and use Still Riding Pizza Crust. For dinner, I had one of my favorites, pasta with broccoli and roasted red peppers. Not only was the meal delicious, but it was so nice to be able to once again sit down and enjoy a meal at my favorite restaurant with my family. While this may not seem like a big deal to some, it brought a smile to my face and is something that meant a lot to me.
Fresh Side Eatery & Teas
I've been to Risotteria numerous times and have tried a little bit of everything off the menu. I've never had anything I didn't like. This is a great place to order a few different dishes and share with your companions. If you can, leave room for their gluten free éclairs! With a no reservation policy and only 20 seats in the restaurant, I suggest arriving early and with only a few friends.
From their gluten free breadsticks, to their risotto, to their many desserts, Risotteria shouldn't be missed by anyone in, or visiting, New York City.