I was shocked last night. Simply shocked.
A good friend of mine (the amazing Bob Schwartz of NetApp NYC) invited me to dinner at Bistango after work, and informed me that there was, supposedly, some pretty good gluten-free options on the Italian menu. I accepted, due to the amazing company and, fingers crossed, amazing GF food.
We were seated by the host, and approached by the waitress a few minutes later. This is where the shock comes in: instead of asking, “Would you like sparkling or still water?” or “Can I get you anything to drink?”, the first thing that popped out of the tiny gal’s mouth was, “Any food allergies I should be aware of?”
I immediately turned to my friend and called him out for planting the question. He completely denied it, and was very clearly equally as stunned as I was. He had legitimately said nothing, and upon further inspection, we realized that this was routine protocol at the restaurant. Thus, I proceeded to inform her that, yes, I was allergic to many things, and she smiled, said, “Thank you,” and that she would return with gluten-free bread very shortly.
The meal only escalated from there, as we started by sipping on Green’s Gluten-Free Blonde Ale, followed up with a gluten-free (and really garlic-y) Caesar salad. The main course included (wait for iitttttttttttt) one dish of MANICOTTI and another of RAVIOLI. Both gluten-free. Never in my life have I had gluten-free manicotti or ravioli in a restaurant!! I polished it down with a good ole’ flourless chocolate cake, which I think I could eat all day long, and an enormous smile on my face.
Aside from the phenomenal food, service, and feeling in my stomach, the experience was only that much more special due to the attention they pay to those with food allergies. While they did have “Regular” items all over the menu, they had a separate gluten-free kitchen, and understood the demands and wants of those with gluten, nut, and dairy allergies. Their philosophy is one that I abide by every day: allergy-free food should not be “weird” or taste bad at all; all it takes is a little bit of creativity and passion for food to create delicious, safe eating.
I have never felt so welcome at a restaurant, and hope that more of these can pop up everywhere.
415 3rd Ave. (29th St.)
New York, NY 10016