Gluten Free NYC Restaurant: Pala Pizza

IMG_0369I haven’t been to Pala for a while… and that was a mistake.

Things have dramatically improved since my last visit with new things like MEATBALLS and ARANCINI being added to the menu. These pair beautifully with the Roman style pizza.

Pala’s is a great place on a warm afternoon. Its a wide open door - literally a garage door that opens onto Allen street where you feel the fringes of the Lower East Side in a good way. I recommend this place for a spring or fall afternoon/evening.

And yet, here I am writing about this on February so its perfect any time really.

I indulged last night ordering meatballs, arancini (which needed some salt) and a roman pizza with Bresaola, arugula, and pecorino. Yum.

Neighborhood: Lower East Side

Address: 198 Allen St


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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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