Eating Gluten Free at City Grit Culinary Salon

Gluten Free City Grit Tuna Jamon Paul Qui

City Grit is the brainchild of Sarah Simmons from Food & Wine. She calls it a Culinary Salon because she cooks there but also has guest chefs – some quite famous, some emerging – that come for a week to cook a new menu they are working on or feature selections from their book or TV Show. This salon is located in an elementary school…..bringing back memories when you take a trip to the bathroom.

Friday night Paul Qui cooked up a flavor feast for me and 69 other people. For $90 we enjoyed a 7 course pre-fixe meal. Only one of the courses required alteration for this feast because he used beer and miso in a sauce. Otherwise it was completely gluten free.

The first course was Tuna Jamon a play on melon wrapped in prosciutto. The smoked tuna wrapped in lardo was excellent!

Gluten Free City Grit Tomato WaterSecond course was tomato water with mussel, celery and basil.  The broth tasted like smoked bacon combined with tomato. I wanted more.

City Grit Sunchoke Dashi Paul QuiThe third course was Sunchoke Dashi which had dehydrated uni, squash, and creme fraiche. I liked the mix of crunchy with the creamy sauce this came with.

Our dinner was rounded out by the rest of the courses including smoked trout, quail, pork jowl and a delicious desert featuring rice milk pudding with coconut and peaches.

Sarah Simmons City Grit Gluten Free

I loved basking in the energy of a creative way to introduce chefs and their work to New Yorkers. To me its a great testament to the food culture in New York City. What Simmons has created is a serious place to have culinary fun.

My advice: check it out in the fall. Its HOT in there. They haven’t figured out how to cool the place down to a reasonable level. I am not someone who likes the AC blaring but it was too hot for me. The chairs are not so comfortable. You do feel the “grit” of the experience…but its worth it.

I didn’t talk much about Paul Qui because, well, that’s not really the point of city grit. The point is an opportunity for you to enjoy your favorite author or chef. For more about Qui, did an awesome video located here:

I hope you do.


Neighborhood: Nolita

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Eating Gluten Free at Blue Hill and Blue Hill Stone Barns

Blue Hill Stone Barns Gluten FreeLast night I had my birthday dinner (a day early) at Blue Hill in New York City. It was fantastic but so poorly lit because the air conditioning was not working I am using pictures from flickr to talk about the experience. Thank you to all the photographers who use a creative common license!

Blue Hill Stone Barns is outside of the city – about 45 minutes. Blue Hill New York City is in the West Village. The difference between the two restaurants is quite striking but both are very good.

Blue Hill Stone Barns feels like a Michelin Star experience. Large but extremely educated wait staff, extensive and at times mind blowing presentation, and exceptional food. I ate at Blue Hill Stone Barns in March, not a time you would think “great time to head to a farm focused restaurant” but it was still fabulous. The Chef is focused on creative vegetable dishes and almost every course was to die for. We did the four course pre-fixe. I recommend going to this place if you can! They even have gluten free home made bread.

Last night, in my own neighborhood, I went to Blue Hill’s New York City location. The experience at this location is different. Not as many people on staff and an al la carte menu option. The gluten free bread was exceptional as it was last time! But I believe the better dining experience is to head to the source – to the Barns outside of the city.

We started our dinner with a taste of salami from the Barns. It was perfect. I really enjoyed my Summer Bean and Pea Salad with Peaches. I opted for a vegetarian dish for my main course because I was so impressed with the food at the Barns in March. This was not the best choice – Stuffed Zucchini. My husband’s entree was much better. He ordered the Stone Barns Berkshire Pig. Everything on his place was amazing.

If you live in NYC the better option is to head to the Barns if you want to enjoy this chef’s preparations at Michelin Star level. You can take the train out there and they handle cab service for you. This location shines a light on the phenomenal things this chef can do with vegetables, even in the middle of the winter. I suggest going on there in the middle of the day so you can walk around the grounds and see what is happening on the farm and then eating an early dinner.

Address: 75 Washington Place

Address for Stone Barns:  630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, NY


Thank you for the picture:

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Risotteria: A NYC Gluten Free Mecca

Risotteria Gluten Free SandwichThe first time I ate at Risotteria was in 2004 or 2005 during a business trip when it was much harder to eat gluten free

I cried. It was emotional to be surrounded by all of the food I couldn’t have other places. The beer. The pizza. The sandwiches. The cookies. It went on and on. I desperately wished something like it existed in Washington, DC where I lived at the time.

Today, I go to Risotteria for certain things – specifically a panini sandwich, gluten free twinkies, or a chocolate chip cookie if I am walking past. Their pizza is ok. If you are looking for great gluten free pizza, eat across the street at Kesté (review here). Its the best in NYC.

But for a sandwich, Risotteria is great. They have a dedicated gluten free panini maker! And a hefty amount of choices to choose from including chicken breast, turkey, vegetarian options, parma ham, soppressata, copa, italian sausage…and more.

Risotteria Gluten free SandwichI had the chicken breast during my last visit. The sandwich was good – olive tapenade was excellent and I enjoyed the pickled onions that accompanied it. It was too dry though. I asked for mayonnaise and the waiter claimed that they normally didn’t hand it out to customers? but that he would make an exception. Not sure what that all means but be persistent if you need something else on your sandwich.

And its time for desert. Get up and take a look at the selection. Some of the stuff is not on the menu but sitting right out in the open next to the cash register. Its fun! It makes you feel like you are at your own special bakery full of junk food. This place is not about being the “best” bakery….its more about the selection.

And what they have is pretty enormous.

Risotteria Gluten Free Desert Eclairs

Carrot cake, several types of cookies and brownies and cup cakes. Cheese cake. Linzer cookies. Pies. Tres Leche Cake. Gluten Free Eclairs.
I love to look through the platter that is always out near the cash register. Here is where the Winkies are hiding – the gluten free twinkies. Along with pound cake, small pies, black and white cookies…

Risotteria Gluten Free Desert junk food

Everything is good but if you are wanting to get the best chocolate chip cookie in the city, this is not the place. Review the “Best Cookies” page to get more advice on finding some of the most delicious gluten free cookies in the city.

Address: 270 Bleecker Street

Neighborhood: West Village


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Best Gluten Free Pizza in Manhattan: Kesté

Keste Gluten Free comparedThere are several places to get gluten free pizza in Manhattan but Kesté is by far the BEST. The pizza Kesté serves is the closest thing I have had to real pizza since I gave up gluten 10 years ago with one exception: a pizza I ate in Italy outside of Otranto. Kesté is run by a chef with simliar training. I am grateful he set up shop in NYC!

Here is a picture of my gluten free pizza (close-up) with my husband’s gluten pizza (background). As you can see they look very simliar to each other. According to my favorite taste tester (husband!!) they also taste very simliar to each other.

Kesté has a few important rules about their gluten free pizza.

1. It is only served on Monday and Tuesday.

2. It is ONLY served three ways. No substitution is allowed. NONE. I have asked many, many times to have something added to mine and the answer is no. If you want something like Arugula on your pizza you can order a side salad and then put it on the pizza when it comes out. This is the only work around I have discovered so far!

“We want it to be safe for you” in Italian accented English is the response to any additions. I am ok with the rules because they are designed to keep me and YOU from getting sick.  I can’t argue with that.

Keste Gluten Free

If you are lucky enough to make it to Kesté here are your three choices:

Margherita (tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil)

Marinara (tomatoes, oregano, garlic, extra virgin olive oil) or

Mast Nicola (lardo, Pecorrino romano, basil)

The pizza is made in Neapolitan style so it has a thin, crispy crust that is a bit chewy. The chewy part is what is so hard to find in gluten free pizza. Its also light. Many times after eating a gluten free pizza I feel like I have a brick in my stomach. No so with Kesté.

Kesté offers wine and Italian beer. After tasting many different reds on the menu I suggest the house red. This is not a place you go for wine and the house red is fine. The pizza is the main attraction.

When you arrive at this restaurant it may seem like a nightmare long line out front but I have never waited more than 30 minutes. The guys that run the door are really good at shuffling people in and out of there. Just remember to return the favor when you are done eating.

The tables are NYC close in this restaurant so get ready to sit right next to your neighbor. Part of this is fun – its highly likely your neighbor is also in gluten free heaven!!

Neighborhood: West Village

Address: 271 Bleeker Street


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