The joy of dining at a gluten-free restaurant

Worry-free eating out: what a treat!

Dining out is something my son loves and something I love to do with him. It has become our “thing” whenever we get some extra one-on-one time. He loves the entire experience and he loves trying new foods and different versions of old favorites. However, his having celiac disease makes dining out a little less of a spontaneous experience for all of us as it requires some planning. Whenever we travel, even day trips, I research restaurants offering gluten-free fare and call ahead to ask about menus and preparation to help me decide if the food is safe enough for our son.

In some restaurants, our expectations are exceeded. We are offered many safe menu options and the staff and kitchen are very attentive to our needs. Other times, the experience has been far from perfect.  Having celiac does not mean that dining out is impossible, but it can mean that sometimes it is exhausting. And it’s when we lower our guard and don’t do due diligence that he risks gluten contamination, or being “gluten-ed” as we call it.

A few years ago, we learned of a 100% gluten-free Italian restaurant opening in Greenwich Village, NYC. We counted the days till they opened— we had to see it for ourselves!  Over the years, we had found many gluten-free bakeries which were awesome but the reality is that my son does not have a huge sweet tooth (unlike his mom!). He loves the idea of sweets and he loves walking into a bakery where he can choose anything he wants, but what he really wants is REAL food.

So you can only imagine how excited he was two years ago when we first went to Senza Gluten. Senza Gluten is a neighborhood restaurant in the heart of Greenwich Village and it bears repeating… EVERYTHING is gluten-free! After 5 years of living with celiac disease, we were used to getting geared up to dine out and asking all our questions. In fact we were so used to it, we didn’t realize the underlying stress from worrying if the food is safe… until we didn’t have to.  The best part of dining at Senza Gluten (aside from the fact that the food is delicious!) is that it was really relaxing to just enjoy the meal and the conversation and not worry about gluten-contamination.

To be able to order and eat ANYTHING in the restaurant; to not have to question if the dishes served are gluten-free, or worry about crumbs; to be offered bread while we perused the menu (such a simple pleasure); to be able to order a plethora of appetizers, main courses and desserts; to be able to order his favorite pasta and not ask if the pasta is cooked in separate water…. was SUCH A JOY!

We have been back for lunches and dinners many times. Last weekend we visited again, this time to try their brunch menu.  What a treat!  It is an all-encompassing menu with gluten-free baked goods, pancakes and french toast, eggs and omelettes, salads, sandwiches and of course pasta! With pure joy, we ordered and devoured a wide range of brunch items, each one better than the next.

So to Senza Gluten and all the other 100% gluten-free restaurants out there, thank you!  You are giving a true gift to someone who must eat gluten-free, and to their friends and family as well!



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