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Jul 6, 2009 02:53 AM

RE: gluten free pizza?

Good morning chowhounders- I have a friend coming to town who loves pizza, but the only problem is that she wants gluten free pizza. Is there a restaurant in NYC that serves this?

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  1. Yes! Rissotteria on Bleecker St. They also serve gluten-free pasta, beer and breadsticks. It was a godsend for us when we thought my husband had celiac disease. Bon appetit.

    8 Replies
    1. re: rteplow

      thank you, thank you, thank you.

      1. re: rteplow

        I had two meals at Risotteria a few weeks ago. The first was very good, with great service. the second was service with an attitude (no reason for it -- I had left a 30% tip on my first visit -- and the server I'd enjoyed wasn't there on the second visit) and a crash and burn food disaster. For some odd reason on this second visit what appeared to be a manager of sorts spent an inordinate amount of time telling us how "Will Smith loves this place". I still haven't figured out why I'd care.

        I had the meatball pizza. The slices of meatball were so bland that I finally just picked them off of the pizza. My dining companion had a mushroom risotto -- she ate half of it and stirred the rest around -- she proclaimed it mediocre at its best. I have no memory now of the appetizer -- it wasn't anything special. The breadsticks are dreamy.

        The recommended dessert of carrot cake was so dry as to be inedible. I've eaten gluten-free for over 10 years, and there's no excuse for anyone to be served food with the moisture content of cardboard. When I was asked about the dessert I told them that it was horribly dry and truly inedible -- the fact that it was intact with two small bites taken from it served as a testimony to its permabrick status. I received a response of "well, other people like it".

        We asked for the check. The cake ($7 for the slice) was on the bill. I politely asked for them to either remove the cake from the check (keeping in mind that we were paying for 2 entrees, 2 appetizers, and a bottle of wine, plus the other dessert) and I was told "NO". So, I said "if you're going to charge me for it, I'd like you to bring me a piece that's edible". Again. NO. They told me if I wanted to do anything about it I'd have to come back another day and speak to the owner. So I replied, "I think I will spend my $7 worth of time posting an accurate online review of tonight's experience". They then warned me that If I posted a negative review anywhere that they would dispute it and show that I "was wrong".

        We deducted the $7 from the tip with a note indicating why we'd done so and indicating that they should take up the $7 with the owner. Good luck on that.

        Needless to say I will NOT eat there again, breadsticks or no breadsticks.

        Meanwhile, Lili 57 (at 57th and 7th Avenue) was a completely divine GF dinner experience -- the manager spent a substantial amount of time talking about food with me -- explaining why they had their GF menu -- how they segregated out the GF food preparation, etc... and made recommendations.... the GF shrimp tempura were heavenly -- they are served with a spicy mayo -- I think I'd do a lighter sauce for a change next time -- albeit I loved the spicy sauce. The menu is a thai/chinese menu -- there's a GF menu and regular menu.

        All in all I had an excellent and friendly meal there -- that I'd heartily recommend.

        1. re: karmalaw

          I've eaten at Risotteria at least once a month (minus my 5 month stint abroad) for the last four years, and I've never ever had an experience like the one you've mentioned. Granted, I've never had the carrot cake, or complained about my food, but I've always found them to be gracious and accommodating, and FWIW, I've had both the mushroom risotto and the meatball pizza on multiple occasions and have enjoyed them both.

          1. re: whitneybee

            I suspect, based on my first experience, that it was just a very off night. Had the carrot cake been replaced or deducted, I'd just have chalked it up to the chef having a bad day. But, the overall attitude and the absoluteness of their stance on the carrot cake was fatal to any future I might have with them (and to my recommendations to others). I was told that they had no ability to substitute or deduct it from the check -- that only the owner could do that for us. IMO, a very silly policy (if it actually exists).

            I also suspect that because I frequently cook and bake at home and generally eat very well despite the gluten-free diet, that I'm not willing to accept decidedly inferior baked goods.

            Babycakes, btw, served up some delicious goodies with nary the trace of the sahara that risotteria incorporated into their cake.

            1. re: karmalaw

              I'm pretty sure it was just an off night, but, then again, I've never tried to have anything deducted from my bill.

              While I've never tried the carrot cake (it wasn't a favorite of mine even before I was diagnosed) I've enjoyed their other baked goods. The chocolate chip cookies aren't dry at all, and their take on an Oreo Cakester is my current favorite. I'm definitely with you about not accepting inferior GF products, especially if I can bake something better at home, but given my experience with pretty much every other baked good at Risotteria, maybe that batch of carrot cake was part of the off night as a whole? I don't mean to be defending them if it was, in fact, that bad, but I've tried pretty much everything else on that dessert menu, and nothing has ever been dry and tasteless.

              1. re: whitneybee

                That's why I was so surprised when they wouldn't switch it out or deduct it. I should add that we hadn't been rude in any way or demanding.. we walked in happy to be there -- so it wasn't like we were singled out for doom.

                I judge a restaurant more harshly from the inability to deal with a problem than for having the problem in the first place. Apparently this is a place where as long as you have no problems, all is well. But, if you have a problem, they aren't going to do anything about it... they consider their work to be done after they've put the food on the table.

                Had they even tasted the carrot cake, they'd have known there was a problem (unless that's how they always make it and the poor souls with no other choice for carrot cake have learned to accept it). This wasn't a case of "I didn't like it" (I like carrot cake), it was a case of ill-preparation or a cake that had over-stayed its welcome on the planet and had dried out. I should have brought the piece home for a "baketopsy".

                1. re: karmalaw

                  I went tonight and purposely tried the carrot cake. I have to say that it was not nearly as good as it used to be, but not at all as described above. I probably would have preferred something else. The service was great- so great that I tipped extra. And my dining companion who ordered the risotto ( even though I told her that I was not a fan) proclaimed it one of the best that she had eaten.

                  1. re: carfreeinla

                    sounds more like my first visit than my second. Maybe you got the fresher version of the carrot cake... or maybe the dryness has been sufficiently noted for them to have taken better care not to recreate it.

                    My unresolved issue with them is about how they handled the problem than having the problem in the first place. Even the best of places can have an off night or send you a meal that's been destroyed by a chef who just got the news that his wife left him and took the big screen tv while he was cooking. It's how they handle the problem that separates the winners from the losers.

      2. There are actually a few places that serve it. I haven't tried all of them, and I'm probably forgetting a few, but here's some to start: Risotteria, in the West Village: Thin crust pizza, really good. I have a friend who thinks their gluten-free pizza is just as good or better than their regular version. They also serve addictive gluten-free breadsticks, GF beer, and great desserts. Mozzarelli's: More of a takeout joint, with zero ambiance, but they always have at least 2 or 3 GF varieties to choose from and pizza is really good. Be warned that they usually aren't open on weekends. I know that Pala on the LES and Opus on the UES both serve GF pizza, but I haven't tried either yet. The pastas at Opus, however, are delicious. Hopefully someone will be able to chime in and let me know if I've missed any.

        3 Replies
        1. re: whitneybee

          Pala Pizza is the most pizza-y gluten free pizza I've had in NYC. Their entire normal pizza menu is available with gluten free crust. Make sure your friend is very clear that she wants the gluten free as I've had orders screwed up there. If they are gf, another fun spot is Lili and Loo's chinese food on the UES - gf dumplings and everything.

          1. re: waddie

            I second bringing your friend to Lilli and Loo's if they're gluten free. Their steamed dumplings are one of my favorite things on the menu, and I'm pretty sure that's the only (and if not the only, then one of a very few) places where you can get those in Manhattan.

          2. re: whitneybee

            I had a delicious dinner at Pala with a large group of friends. One member of the group is gluten free and we were all very happy to find such a lovely place to accommodate everyone's nneds. Everything - both gluten free and otherwise- was delicious.

          3. I think Nizza may also have GF pizza.

            2 Replies
            1. re: eameyer

              Nizza has a GF pizza made with chickpea flour. I have not tried it yet, but I have seen mixed reviews.
              Re the Risotteria experience- I have been many times and while I have never had such a bad experience, I was once served pizza that was completely cold in the middle- obvious because the cheese was not the least bit melted. They took it back and returned it heated- sans the slice that I had tasted. Given how dear the pizza was ( and I was not able to eat a full pie properly prepared), I would have expected them to give me some consideration ( or a full pie).
              I think that they make mediocre risotto- GF or not!
              I have never had anything but wonderful desserts. You have to assume that they could never make just one bad slice of carrot cake, so they must have been getting complaints all night- shame that you had to be the first...

              1. re: carfreeinla

                the "pizza" at Nizza isn't actually pizza, it's socca. they serve it on their gluten-free menu with pizza toppings, but if you expect it to be pizza, you'll be very disappointed! If you go in expecting it to be a large chickpea flour pancake with toppings, you'll be fine.

            2. I just returned from another trip to NYC.. this time I ate at Pala (many thanks for the recommendations here for it)... it was EXCEPTIONAL.

              The pizza was so good that I had to ask twice to make sure it was the gluten-free version. I had the Gricia: pancetta, mozzarella, rosemary and aged pecorino cheese... The crust was sublime: not a wafer thin crust, but a chewy crust with the proper aount of crispness.. not soggy in any way -- not even in the middle.. with great flavor and texture.

              My appetizer of fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and 25 year old balsamic served with arugula was superb. The gluten-free chocolate cake was luscious, moist, rich and divine in every way.

              Service was attentive and friendly -- even the water glass kept full and plates were removed quickly (as is proper, each time I was asked before anything was whisked away).

              Most of the diners around me were not GF eaters -- this is a restaurant where the GF and non-GF can both happily eat. It's now my "go-to" when I want pizza (or pasta) in NYC.


              1 Reply
              1. re: karmalaw

                I'm a bit late, but happy to hear you enjoyed it!