Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gluten Free NYC! Part 4: Risotteria

Welcome to my Gluten Free NYC Travel Series!  Stay tuned for fantastic suggestions for GF and Allergic travelers :)

As I look through my photos documenting my meal at Risotteria, I am inclined to tell you it was the best GF and allergic dining experience I've ever had.  So much so I even had a dream that I had returned to NYC to partake in it again.  When restaurants that you've eaten in and meals that you have start to creep into your REM cycle, you know they're just that good.

Risotteria opens daily at 12p, and I had to be somewhere in the early afternoon, so my dining companion and I decided to arrive a little early and be the first ones in.  We arrived in the West Village a little too early (11:30a) and walked around a bit until opening.  When we returned at the restaurant's doorstep at 11:50a, we were third in line to enter.  I guess I wasn't the only one eager to eat there that day!  It was a good thing we had shown up early too; Risotteria is a small eatery and seats go fast in this GF oasis.

Once the family and couple in front of us sat, the restaurant was half full!  We took up the other 25%.  Now seated, I was eager to get underway in asking one of my millions of questions when I eat out:  I see that you offer GF pizza.  I'm allergic to some GF flours; what's in your pizza crust?...  Without batting an eye the waitress put me at ease right away.  She explained that the restaurant was fully aware of preparation issues and allergy concerns.  She made sure that I knew she was going to take care of me, and I trusted her immediately.  She knew her stuff and was so warm as she recounted the minimal ingredients in their pizza flour, and I was able to partake.  This was good news as I had just planned on eating one of the many risottos the menu offered up.

My companion and I decided to do what we do best and ordered a lot of food.  After much deliberation, we ordered the Gruyere & Green Onion risotto and the Parma Ham & Mozzarella pizza, both GF.  She chomped away on breadsticks while we were waiting; only after the meal arrived did the waitress comment that all the sticks were GF and I should try them too, but by then I was too distracted by the beauty in front of me.

Isn't it pretty?

The risotto was perfect, creamy and very mild do to the qualities of the Gruyere.  It was a good companion to the pizza we chose.  The crispy, thin crust was perfectly NY style AND GF.  I took a bite and *sigh* le happy tongue.

The flag denotes it's a GF pizza.

The risotto would have perhaps been a better match for a spicier pizza since it was rather mild, but no matter.  I swear we had stopped talking once the food arrived and both of us began chowing down.  Sitting in silence, I was so happy.  This was the first time I had eaten pizza out in 3 years.  And it was perfect.  I missed pizza, and with each bite, I knew it was going to be harder and harder to leave Risotteria.

I stopped mid-scarf to look around the small yet buzzing hub.  The small family with GF children had a one-stop shop to feed everyone so easily and in such a friendly environment.  The couple next to us could both be happy: one GF pizza, one non-GF pizza.  It was the perfect haven for GF patrons and their loved ones of all kinds.  It was peaceful and easy.  I wished more than anything we had a restaurant this understanding and helpful near me.

With our bellies full and my heart singing, the waitress returned to gather our spotless plates.  Would we like dessert?  Ah, dessert.  I don't know why, but I had somehow assumed that I would have been allergic to dessert.  I think that's because many commercially produced GF desserts include, nut, soy and legume flours.  As my friend patiently waited to see if we could split something, I began to ask many questions, pointing to items and asking for ingredients.  One second, the waitress left and came back with laminated sheets.  Ingredient lists for everything on the dessert menu.  Full disclosure!  I don't know why, but it's sometimes very difficult to get full ingredient disclosure (which always makes me worry that there's something they're hiding.)  I think that traditional restaurants/bakeries are worried that you're somehow going to take the ingredient list and magically duplicate the product they're selling.  Real restaurants/bakeries that understand concerned eaters understand that full disclosure only makes us feel safer and happier about them.

Well with that list, I found I was spoiled with options!  We finally choose the Tiramisu.

And yes, it tasted as good as it looked.  Blissfully, we went up to pay the check and that's when I saw take-out bakery items.  I admittedly went a little hog-wild and took away another small dessert, The Little Fudgie.


Aside from it's regrettable name, the mini chocolate chip cookies sandwiching the chocolate cream was decadent, delightful and the perfect size!
After begging everyone at Risotteria to relocate to Southern California, I left with only the memory of how eating out should always be for the GF and allergic individual- normal.  If you're in NYC and don't make your way to the West Village for some Risotteria, you're just plain nuts!

Did you miss Parts 1, 2, or 3?

Risotteria (Open 7 days / Noon - 11pm, 270 Bleecker Street, between 6th / 7th aves, 212-924-6664.  No reservations, and only parties of 6 or smaller.)

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