Friday, July 17, 2015

Gluten Free in New York City - Part 2

Day two of our trip to New York City started with us walking to The Little Beet for breakfast.   All of the food at The Little Beet is gluten free, and they promote it as being 100% guiltin' free too, because they use local, seasonal, and natural ingredients that are non-GMO and unprocessed.  You can read about our lunch at The Little Beet here, in my post about our first day in New York City.  

I ordered a bacon, cheese and egg sandwich on a whole grain english muffin.  This was my first breakfast sandwich in seven years, since my celiac diagnosis.  The english muffin tasted more like a bun than an english muffin, but the sandwich was very good.  The egg was cooked well, and the bacon was nice and thick.  

I also bought a small cold pressed juice.  The Wake Up Call contains spinach, pineapple, mango, avocado and lemon, the perfect palate cleanser after my breakfast sandwich.  

After breakfast, we walked over to Central Park for our pedicab tour, which was recommended to us by some of our friends.  It's a great way to see large areas of Central Park in an hour, and learn the history of the park.  TripAdvisor has some recommendations for companies to use if you are interested in booking a pedicab tour.  

After we left Central Park, we met my aunt and uncle, who had just arrived in New York City.  For lunch, we had reservations at Del Posto, an Italian restaurant opened by Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich, and Mark Ladner in 2005.  For lunch, Del Posto offers a three-course prix fixe meal for $49.  This was definitely the priciest meal of our trip, but I really wanted to dine at a Mario Batali restaurant, and try the gluten free pasta created by Chef Ladner, using Cup4Cup flour.  The entire pasta menu at Del Posto is available gluten free, using housemade pasta.

Our waiter started us off with a complimentary tasting plate with three small individual dishes.  I wish I could remember what any of them were, but I found them all to be a little odd and unappetizing.  

I had read that Del Posto makes gluten free focaccia on request, so I made sure to call the restaurant a couple of days before we dined there, and they noted that I would be dining gluten free in our reservation.  Our waiter told us that the focaccia is made with a combination of Cup4Cup and Bob's Red Mill flour.  It was delicious, and I am sure it could fool any gluten eater into thinking it was gluten-filled bread.

For my antipasti course, I chose a salad with seasonal vegetables that I thought was a little bland and unexciting.   

For my second course, I ordered cappellacci with brown butter, and a sweet potato filling.  It looked exactly like my husband's gluten-filled pasta, so much so, that the serving team didn't seem to know which one was which, and what appeared to be a manager had to be called over to distinguish between the two, which made me a little bit nervous.  I really enjoyed my pasta and being able to order any pasta dish I wanted, but it seemed to be missing something.  Once I asked for some grated Parmesan to be sprinkled on top, I thought the dish tasted more complete.  

The highlight of meal was actually the pea panna cotta I had for dessert.  The marcona almonds and strawberries it was served with perfectly complemented this slightly sweet panna cotta.  

After we finished our desserts, we all received a complimentary box of sweet treats that were tailored to our dietary needs. Everything was delicious, and it was a nice way to end a meal that was plagued by service issues.  

I thought our server was a bit of a snob from the start, then out of the blue, early in our meal, he came over and told me that Del Posto can't guarantee that anything is 100% gluten free, because they serve food with gluten.  I told him that I was aware of this fact, and that I know I am taking a chance every time I eat out at a restaurant that isn't 100% gluten free.  He went on to say that at least with gluten, it isn't like other food allergies with the severity of the reaction.  I told him that some people with celiac can be sick for a week after being glutened.  He then told me that he didn't think they could serve me if that was the case!  I told him that I was talking about other people I have heard about, not myself, so that finally calmed him down.  The whole conversation was a little shocking to me in light of the fact that I never questioned our server about precautions Del Posto takes to avoid cross contamination like I do at other restaurants, because I know they do everything the right way.  Our waiter was also a little odd when I ordered my dessert, warning me that the panna cotta was made with peas, which I could clearly read on the menu.  Thankfully, I didn't let him discourage me from ordering a dish that was the best part of my meal.  Many of my blog readers have told me that they have great experiences with food and service at Del Posto, but I found the service to be extremely disappointing, and some of the food did not live up to my expectations for a $49 meal in a fine dining establishment.  

After lunch, we walked the High Line to Eataly, which is an Italian food lover's paradise.  I bought some of my favorite Caffarel chocolates from Italy, and some orange amaretti cookies, which were both marked gluten free.  If we lived in New York City, I would be there buying Italian meats and cheeses all the time.  The amaretti cookies were very good, and the chocolate was divine.  The next time I am at Epcot, I will have to stop at the Italy Pavilion to see what kind of Caffarel chocolates they sell.  

Before heading to see Aladdin, which we all loved, we had dinner at Nizza, which is the perfect place to dine if you are seeing a Broadway show, because of its close proximity and great food.  My meal started off with gluten free focaccia dipped in olive oil and a soft Italian cheese.  Wow, the chefs in New York City sure know how to make gluten free bread that tastes just like the gluten-filled bread I remember.  

From Nizza's extensive gluten free menu, I chose pasta pesto made with Le Veneziane fettuccine, a touch of cream, crescenza cheese, and pesto.  This might be the best pasta pesto I have ever had at a restaurant, even better than anything I had in my gluten eating days.  The noodles were perfectly al dente, and the dish was so flavorful, I ended up eating the whole thing, even though I wasn't that hungry.  

The only reason I ordered dessert was because I wanted a sweet palate cleanser after my pasta course.  I ordered fresh berries with zabaglione, in an attempt to keep it light and fresh.  The zabaglione was a little thicker than I expected, but overall, I enjoyed my dessert, and my whole dining experience at Nizza, which is one of my aunt and uncle's favorite restaurants in New York City.

Days two, three and four of our trip to New York City will be featured in posts on my blog next week.

What are your favorite restaurants for gluten free dining in New York City?  


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