If you are gluten free and making a trip to NYC anytime soon, you must visit Risotteria. For those of you in NYC, gluten free or not, you know.
Risotteria is a cozy, casual dining spot in the heart of Greenwich Village that started as a risotto-centric establishment in 1999 and has since become the place to go for a gluten-free meal complete with breadsticks, pizzas, panini and desserts. To sum it up, for those of us who have to eat gluten-free, it is heaven. To boot, it gets a healthy thumbs up (minus the desserts, of course) from me.
Being relatively new to the gluten-free scene, I heard about Risotteria for the first time just recently. So I grabbed my ever-accommodating boyfriend, Darren, and twin brother and sister-in-law, Jared and Erika, to be my partners in gluten-free crime.
Every Risotteria meal starts with their gluten-free breadsticks, whether or not there is a gluten-free diner at the table. I was surprised by the lack of choice, but soon realized why. These are breadsticks anyone can enjoy. Just the slightest hint of what I believe was rice flour, but otherwise a genuine breadstick.
Next came the salads. Here is where as a dietitian I delighted. In addition to the roasted beet and walnut salad appetizer, there are 16 variations of salads to choose from, each with a unique assortment of fresh, simple ingredients and light, gluten-free dressings.
With 35 risotto dishes (not counting the daily special), 14 regular and gluten-free pizzas and 13 regular and gluten-free panini to choose from, we settled on one gluten-free pizza, one gluten-free panini and two risotto dishes. Kudos to my twin brother for ordering a gluten-free pizza so we could share.
This pizza is the best I’ve had since going gluten-free, hands down. A thin, crispy crust and I liked the Mediterranean flavor of the olive-puree sauce (in lieu of tomato). The panini—what can I say? I am a bread and sandwich lover. The crisp, flaky, thin-pressed bread was delightful…it really didn’t matter what was inside. In case you are interested, though, it was a (almost) vegan sandwich with arugula, sun-dried tomato and pesto (prepared with butter).
The risottos are that perfect balance between al dente and rich, creamy rice and Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli rice selections were offered. The Arborio and Vialone Nano risottos were served with vegetarian and seafood ingredients, while the Carnaroli came paired with poultry and meats
And when I just couldn’t eat one more bit, our server came around with the dessert menu (actually, an old water bottle with the selections pasted to the bottle). The New Yorkers that we are, we went for the black and white cookie and, since this was “my meal out,” a piece of my all-time favorite, carrot cake. The icing on both are authentic, creamy and just the right amount of sweetness. The black and white cookie had more of a cake-like consistency, which I prefer, and the carrot cake was prepared in the pound-cake style with a layer of icing on top, in lieu of the layer cake style.
While most don’t go to Risotteria worrying about whether their meal will be healthy, the dietitian in me (and the purpose of this blog) has to comment. I was impressed with the comprehensive variety of fresh salads, vegetarian and dairy free options. While plenty of meat options are available for the pizzas, panini and risotto dishes, just as many vegetarian options are, too. It is quite easy to eat gluten-free at Risotteria, both healthfully and happily.
Now I’m off to unfreeze and enjoy a piece of their banana bread that I took home. I’m allowed…I’ve eaten healthfully all day long (just in case you’re wondering).
For those of you who want to relive the experience at home, Risotteria offers a selection of gluten-free dry mixes, fresh-baked and frozen goods for purchase at the restaurant. For mail orders visit their online catalog.
Risotteria is located at 270 Bleecker Street, New York, NY, 212-924-6664, and open from 12noon – 11pm, 7 days a week.