Category Archives: Restuarant Reviews

Michigan gluten free finds: Biga Pizza and Commonwealth

I wouldn’t have expected this in a million years, but I had possibly the best gluten free pizza I’ve tried in Michigan a couple weeks ago. In an unassuming restaurant called Biga Pizza I ordered a wood-grilled pizza. I had pretty low expectations, considering some of my other experiences with gluten free pizza in Michigan, but I was truly blown away.

I got the farmer’s egg pizza with zucchini and ricotta. The thin crust and wood-grilled crispness made this pizza something special. My friend tried a slice and said that she really couldn’t tell the difference between the gluten free crust and the regular one. Next time I’ll make sure to stay for the Lemon-Raspberry Parfait (gluten free sponge cake, layered with lemon curd, raspberries and rum marscapone mousse). Mmm.

Another find in Michigan was Commonwealth in Birmingham. I got a ratatouille omelet and sweet potato hash for breakfast. I have to figure out how to make that hash at home – it has roasted peppers, green onions, and red onions, all caramelized and a great savory/sweet mixture.

Commonwealth also has a quinoa tabouli, which you don’t see every day. The hunt for good gluten free food in Michigan continues, but this trip really impressed me!

Best grits in DC

Going out to breakfast or brunch can be a challenge for celiacs. French toast, pancakes, English muffins – gluten seems to be the star of the show in most dishes. Nine times out of 10 I end up eating an omelette or some kind of eggs, which is mostly okay with me. Except for the fact that they usually come with hash browns or home fries, and I’m always skeptical of how they are made (they could be fried, put on a griddle next to the toast, come from a mix that has them coated in flour, etc.)

So when a restaurant has grits on the menu, they are always my go-to substitute. They’re creamy, cheesy, buttery, and good ole’ Southern cookin’.

These are my top three restaurants for grits that I’ve found in DC yet.

1. Ted’s Bulletin

Seriously amazing cheese grits. They’re like a finer, condensed macaroni and cheese.This isn’t the most colorful plate in the world, but so delicious.

2. Vinoteca

Nice and cheesy, just how I like ’em. These come with big pieces of cheddar on top. Try them with the smoked salmon omelette.

3. Art and Soul

I only had a taste of my friend’s grits here as a part of their shrimp and grits dish at dinner, but they serve them as a side dish at brunch as well. If Art Smith can’t make a good pot of grits, then I don’t know who can.

Any places I’m missing for good grits? Or anything else you substitute for toast while eating breakfast out? 

Eating Rice in Brooklyn

Last month I attended a social media workshop in Brooklyn, which was great because even when I lived in NYC I didn’t go over the bridge very often. It doesn’t hurt that this was the view from the office the workshop was in in Dumbo.

For lunch, the restaurant Rice happened to be just a few blocks away, and I’d been wanting to try it after seeing it pop up on a few blogs.

I started with a bowl of butternut squash soup, but it was really nothing to write home about. What is something to write home about were their veggie meatballs.

It takes a lot to make tofu taste indulgent, and not like health food. But this did it. I really don’t know how they make these things. I’m guessing they put the tofu and some kind of spices in the food processor, then reform them into balls, fry them, and coat them in this delicious sweet and sour type sauce.

If I would have known better I would have gotten something other than boring brown rice. Having black rice or sticky rice would have made it all the more delicious.

Rice
Locations in Nolita and Dumbo
www.riceny.com

Ardeo Bardeo brunch

Brunch in DC is a sacred event. Without fail, every Saturday and Sunday between 11 and 4, everyone and their mom is at brunch. Restaurants cater to the brunch crowd with unlimited mimosas, multiple course and all-you-can-eat deals.

I’ve had some great brunches in DC. But I’m declaring right here and now that Ardeo Bardeo in Cleveland Park is the best brunch in the city. It just is. Don’t even try to argue.

Why?

  1. Two courses and unlimited mimosas for $25 – most places in DC are $15 entrees without unlimited mimosas, or they’re $25-$30 for unlimited mimosas, but they only give you one (usually kind of crummy) entree. Ardeo Bardeo gives you two delicious courses, plus they keep the champagne flowing!
  2. They are knowledgeable and friendly about making their dishes gluten free – I have had the nicest servers at Ardeo Bardeo, and they are always really accommodating. They check with the kitchen if they have questions, and know exactly what to do if you tell them you need your meal to be gluten free.
  3. I don’t have to eat eggs – About 90% of the time when I got to brunch I end up getting an omelette. While that’s all well and good, Ardeo Bardeo has a ton of other gluten free options. From salads and soups to salmon and risotto.

For my first course I always get this salad because it’s freakin’ amazing. Spinach salad with braised fennel and mushrooms with truffle vinaigrette.

Second course:

I’ve gotten the Scottish salmon a few times because it’s also just perfect. Crispy skin, perfectly cooked, with brussel sprouts, fennel puree, golden raisins, and lemon yogurt.

And last time I switched it up and got the rock shrimp and grits with arugula, lemon, and lobster emulsion. Yeah, lobster emulsion…that just happened.

I don’t know why more people don’t know about this brunch spot. People line up for an hour outside of Open City, but there are always tables open here.

Go! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Ardeo Bardeo
Cleveland Park
3311 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
http://ardeobardeo.com

Shake Shack fries and Captain Chris’ Crab Shack

I can’t think of two things more addicting than french fries and crabs. Both salty, fun to eat, and great in a “bad for you” kind of way.

Since the line at Shake Shack in New York City was always about a mile long, I actually never went to it, even though it was right around the corner from my office in the Flatiron District. Luckily, like everything in DC, the Shake Shack in Dupont here doesn’t have a fraction of the customers as the NYC version.

Shake Shack provides a great gluten free menu on their website, and explains thoroughly how each food is prepared. They notify customers that they use separate friers for their fries, but that their oil is filtered through the same equipment at night. I’m guessing that this is the case with most restaurants, but nice to see that they come clean about it.

Loved every last one of these greasy little suckers. And yes, I dipped them in mayonnaise and ketchup. Don’t judge.

Next time I’m for sure getting one of their frozen custards with sprinkles!

Another totally addicting food? Fresh crab boil drenched in Old Bay Seasoning, plus corn on the cob.

And, if you were wondering, yes – Old Bay is naturally gluten free.

When in Maryland, you must eat crabs. A lot of crabs. All you can eat crabs from Captain Chris’ Crab Shack in North East, MD.

Other things you should eat in Maryland – Herr’s Old Bay potato chips. Along with most of the chips from Herr’s, they are gluten free. Although I just saw that they have MSG in them, which is yucky.

Looking for other places to get gluten free fries in DC? Try Science Club in Dupont, Ripple in Cleveland Park, or the National Zoo!

And go eat some crabs, they’ll make you happy.

Eataly Gluten Free Part 2

Every time I’m in New York I make it a point to go to Eataly. It’s right around the corner from my office in the Flatiron district, and it’s a great place to go get a cup of coffee and do some food gawking. I can imaging a lot of people who are gluten free wouldn’t think that Eataly would have much to offer, since it’s centered around pasta, pizza, and other traditional Italian foods. However, it’s also all about fresh ingredients, cheeses, fish, meat, produce, and specialty products.

This time I went with my heart set on gelato. Since the gelato stand is right in the front of the market, I picked up a cup of white mint chip to take with me as I walked around.

But then, as I was walking by the dessert stand, I realized that Eataly had totally stepped up its game when it comes to gluten free dessert. There were easily 15 different mini desserts that were gluten free. I think last time I went last month there were two. The other ones may just not have been labeled gluten free, but my jaw dropped when I saw all of the options.

There was an almond cookie, a torte with chocolate ganache, and a flourless chocolate cake.

There was panna cotta and a three-tiered chocolate mousse cake.

There was sponge cake with almond mousse and fruit.

And there were three different kinds of gluten free tiramisu.

I went with the peanut caramel tiramisu on the recommendation of the nice Italian man working behind the counter.

Best of all, the people who work at Eataly are very knowledgeable about food allergies, and they even have these signs all over encouraging patrons to let them know if you have a food allergy so they can  be sure to accommodate.

They also have a dedicated stand with Schar products like pasta, cookies, and rolls.

If you visit New York City, going to Eataly is a must. It’s always at the top of my list of places I tell people to go while they’re there, and now there are even more gluten free  options!

Homemade Pizza Co.

Let me show you what a good use of $20 looks like:

Pizza from Homemade Pizza Co.!

I know, I know. It’s cheaper to make it yourself. BUT this pizza is good. Like really good. If my cooking ego wasn’t so big I’d probably admit that the crust is the best I’ve ever tried.

Plus you just stick it in the oven and it’s finished! No dishes and no risk of spilling sauce all over yourself when you open the jar. Not like I’ve done that or anything…

Another perk of Homemade Pizza Co. is that they have unique ingredients like blue cheese, poblano peppers, and caramelized onions on their menu. Plus since there are so few places that you can get ready-made non-frozen gluten free pizza, it’s a great novelty to be able to go to a store, grab one and go!

For more gluten free pizza pics/reviews see:

Rubirosa NYC
Pala Pizza NYC
Open City DC
Ella’s Pizza DC
Namaste Foods Pizza Crust Mix

NYC gluten free recap

Seeing as I ate my way through New York City the last time I was there – I still had a hodge podge of photos left on my iPhone expensive state-of-the-art special blog camera. So, besides my reviews of Rubirosa, Rice to Riches, and Gramercy Tavern, below are some of the other gluten free yummies I found when I was there.

“Orios” and eclairs at Risotteria in the East Village. Yes. I said gluten free eclairs. I also picked up a “Winkie” for my friend – which I tried a bite of and tastes nearly identical to what I remember a Twinkie to taste like.

The ultimate bar snack – roasted peanuts and garlic with rosemary at the John Dory Oyster Bar

Gluten free cupcakes at Terri

Macaroons at some place I can’t remember. But was happy to see them marked definitively gluten free.

Banana bread with chocolate chips from Babycakes

It always hurts my heart when Celiacs tell me they haven’t been to NYC. It’s a bonafide gluten free playground and every time I go things seem to get more and more delicious.

For more of my favorite places to eat in NYC – check out my NYC GFREE EATS page. All restaurants have the highly-coveted Anna stamp of approval 😉

Gramercy Tavern: peanut butter semifreddo

Gramercy Tavern. Sure it’s the sixth highest rated restaurant in the Zagat ratings – but do they have chops when it comes to gluten free dishes?

Absofreakinlutely.

Any restaurant who’s chef if nominated for  a James Beard award had better be able to whip up some pretty tasty dishes. But the real winner here was dessert. Yes, I’m going out of narrative order here just so I can bring you the dessert first. After *suffering through* six other courses, I was presented with the best dessert ever. Period.

Nancy Olsen, I bow down to your pastry goddessness and I kiss the ground you walk on.

Peanut butter semifreddo, sandwiched between two chocolate macaroons (like a thin chewy brownie), a giant glob of thick caramel sauce, all on top of a pool of fudge and these amazing roasted peanuts.

It was everything a dessert should be – a total mixture of textures, sweet but not too sweet, a bit of saltiness, fun to play with, doesn’t melt. It was perfection.

I ate some other things too… like:

Squash salad with pumpkin seeds

Warm broccoli soup (Actually one of my favorite dishes. I loved the vibrant color and the intense broccoli flavor).

Shrimp and white beans with brussel sprout leaves. (best cooked shrimp I’ve ever had. I kept going “how did they DO this?”)

I also got a second dessert compliments of the chef (probably because I made a loud “mmm” noise when the waiter told me that one of my options was butterscotch and pumpkin pudding). It had that same caramel sauce that was on the semifreddo – and I would take a bath in it if I could.

So, there ya have it. If you have some cash to blow I highly recommend going for dinner. Or do the smart thing and just go for dessert and order three semifreddos with a side of the caramel sauce. Like a boss.

One last note: I loved Gramercy Tavern because it wasn’t stuffy or formal, even though it’s one of the best restaurants in the city. It feels really homey, warm, and inviting. The waitstaff was great and really went out of their way to make the meal spectacular (and gluten free, of course).

Gramercy Tavern
42 East 20th Street
New York, NY

Rubirosa NYC: Second best gluten free pizza in the city

I’ve had my share of gluten free pizza. And I still honestly think that I make the best crust right in my own kitchen using Namaste Foods mix! And I do think that Pala Pizza’s crust is the best in the city.

But, I have to admit that Rubirosa in SoHo has Pala and me beat on the sauce. Their vodka sauce is so delicious it basically makes you forget that the crust and cheese exist and want to get a straw and put it directly into a vat of sauce for your meal. That said – the crust and cheese were workin’ for me too.

See that saucy goodness?

Let’s back up for a second here though – Rubirosa has more than just gluten free pizza on their menu. They also have gluten free calamari, mozzarella sticks, and rice balls. Which I consider to be gfree delicacies – rare finds that kind of make you stare in shock at any menu that has them. They also have gluten free meatballs for you carnivores.


We tried to not go overboard though, so we started with a simple salad. (This was the same afternoon as Rice to Riches, so I was trying not to be a complete gluten free glutton).

Perfect salad – with fennel, radishes, and big slices of pecorino romano.

But let’s be real – it’s just a way to reduce the guilt before you inhale half of a pizza.


Gee, New York City really does know how to do pizza.

And just be awesome in general.


Any other favorite pizza places in NYC? I’ve heard that Keste is a favorite.

Rubirosa
235 Mulberry Street
New York, NY