Gluten Free Dining

We're a decade into the growth of the gluten free "marketplace," thanks to increased awareness of Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity -- and improving rates of diagnosis. Not only has "gluten free" become a household term, in many cases it's become a dietary "trend." For those of us personally affected by Celiac or gluten sensitivity, this is a mixed blessing -- as many have discussed in recent years. While demand for gluten free meals in restaurants eventually gives us more choice, the situation does come with pitfalls. First and foremost is the need to ensure that any restaurant with a gluten free menu knows not just what ingredients are used in their recipes...but how to safely prepare the meal without putting you at risk from gluten cross contamination. Another less serious -- but still frustrating -- challenge is being able to separate those restaurants that make the most basic (and often less-than-appetizing) substitutions or omissions to claim that a menu item is gluten free from restaurants that work hard to surprise and delight their gluten free diners with well-thought-out, flavorful offerings. (Check out the creative layered Beet Salad, with goat cheese, candied walnuts, and caramelized onions from Burtons Grill, below.)... Read more →


Last week we had the good fortune to dine at Rasika, a popular restaurant in the "Penn Quarter" area of Washington, DC...just blocks from the Verizon Center, where we were going to see an NHL hockey game with our hockey-playing sons. We'd heard a lot about the restaurant -- and the buzz was that it was very gluten-free friendly. Not surprising, since most Indian restaurants don't use many gluten-containing ingredients in their preparations. It's hard to get a table here...most people have to make reservations well in advance. However, when I called (rather last minute) to inquire about getting a table, I was told that they keep the tables across from the bar open for walk-ins. How nice...I wish more places would do this. Otherwise, it can take weeks to get reservations at popular spots like Rasika. Although they don't have any information about gluten free options on their website, they assured me when I called that almost every item on the menu is gluten free, with a few exceptions. When we arrived (early) and secured a table, our server was most helpful and friendly. He pointed out the few items that would be off-limits due to gluten. This really... Read more →


You probably remember my Blog post detailing my family's trip to Italy this past summer. It was so fantastic, from a gluten free dining perspective, that I wrote a book about it (Gluten-Free in ITALY : Your Worry-Free and Gluten-Free Travel Guide to Italy), available on Amazon. But I'm often asked...of all the places we dined in Rome, Florence, and Venice, which was our favorite spot? Who had the best (and safest) gluten free offerings? In Rome, at least, I'd have to say it was a small chain of restaurants known as Mama Eat and Mama Frites. It was pure serendipity that we ended up eating at these two restaurants while in Rome. I'd heard about both restaurants and had included them on our list of places to potentially try while in Rome. However, I wasn't sure if it would work out, based on where we planned to be sightseeing each day. As luck would have it, after touring the Vatican for several hours one morning, a nearby gluten-free friendly restaurant where we'd planned to have lunch closed for renovation. We were starving, but we decided to continue with our day's plans and head south to Trastevere, an ancient and... Read more →


You probably recall me mentioning Burtons Grill many times. It's a regional chain with 11 restaurants in the following five states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Virginia, and South Carolina. They have another Virginia location slated to open this summer, along with locations coming soon to North Carolina and Florida. It's one of our favorite restaurants, so were were thrilled when their Alexandria, VA restaurant opened not too far from us. (Prior to that, we made it a priority to visit a Burtons Grill whenever we happened to be traveling or visiting family in one of their areas!). They have an amazing selection of gluten free menu items, including the best fried calamari ever (and yes, it's gluten free!). They also are extremely knowledgeable about how to safely prepare gluten free meals, as Kevin Harron, the co-founder and president of Burton's Grill, has Celiac disease himself. It's not surprising, then, that they would carry on this mission to serve the gluten free community with their second restaurant concept, launched in 2014. It's called Red Heat Tavern, and the casual dining restaurants, inspired by the food and ambiance of backyard barbecues, are located in both Bedford, MA and Wilmington, MA. The food... Read more →


In this post, we welcome Katherine Tolley, a Celiac currently living in Barcelona, Spain... In the fall of 2013, after a year of reoccurring mononucleosis, an aggressive case of pneumonia, and a constant, unexplained fever and feeling of vertigo, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. I was somewhere between my junior and senior year of college, living at home, and doing everything possible to help heal my body – especially my digestive system. A semester abroad studying the arts was a requirement for my design degree, and I was terrified after my diagnosis to even leave the house for fear of cross-contaminated food and more illnesses. I had been planning on studying in Barcelona, Spain, but as the time drew nearer and I read more about their cuisine (Tapas! Fried calamari! Churros! Toasted bread rubbed with fresh tomatoes and olive oil!), I become increasingly nervous. After months of research and printing gluten-free dining cards in various foreign languages, I packed my suitcase full of gluten-free oatmeal packets and set off for the unknown. And to my never-ending delight, what I found across the Atlantic was a country that understood my needs far better than almost every place I had been... Read more →


Pittsburgh sometimes gets a bad rap. Our family, however, loves visiting this city (which says a lot, given that our trips there are always for hockey tournaments in the dead of winter!). We like visiting because there are a lot of fun things to do between hockey games (the Carnegie Science Center and adjacent Highmark SportsWorks complex are always a hit with kids and adults!), and there are some really great places for gluten free meals (and gluten free baked goods!). Each time we're in Pittsburgh, Gluuteny is HIGH on our priority list (just don't make the mistake of planning your visit for a Monday...we did that last year, only to find out that's the one day they're closed!). Gluuteny is a completely gluten free, dairy free bakery. While our Celiac son does not need to be dairy free (and sometimes we're not crazy about the taste of dairy free baked goods), this place nails it in terms of flavor and texture. All their baked goods -- and there are many -- are fantastic. Even the "buttercream" on their cupcakes (made with dairy free margarine) is wonderfully creamy and tasty. I had an almond cupcake with vanilla buttercream icing, while... Read more →


We're always adding helpful content, updating resources, and improving the functionality of GlutenFreeTravelSite and our free companion mobile app, Dine Gluten Free. But for those of you who haven't visited for a while -- or may not be aware of all the ways these valuable resources can help you DINE & TRAVEL gluten free more easily, we thought it might be time for a reminder... First Stop (if you need it): An Overview Under the RESOURCES tab within the navigation bar on our website, there's a section of the site called About Celiac & Gluten Sensitivity that contains 12 "chapters" of information that are helpful to both new and veteran gluten free folks. And if you have friends or family members that need to understand your diet better, send them a link to this page for answers to the questions they may have (sometimes it's easier when it comes from an impartial source!). Also, if you have a friend that suspects gluten may be adversely affecting their health, by all means, pass along this information to them. It could provide the spark that leads them to get tested. We've tried to make the explanations about Celiac, gluten sensitivity, and a... Read more →


Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen and its founder Rick Freedman have always been trailblazers in the dining world. Picazzo's was one of the first to offer a large choice of gluten free options on their menu -- even many years ago -- and with each passing year, their menu has become more gluten-free friendly. In fact, their entire menu is now gluten free, save for the option to order pizza with either their organic "original" crust or organic whole-grain crust (of course, they do have gluten-free pizza, too...more about that in a moment). Whereas most gluten-free-savvy restaurants have a separate area of the kitchen for preparing their gluten free orders, Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen is the opposite. Their main kitchen is all gluten free, and they have a separate prep area and separate oven for their "regular" pizzas, which are the only gluten-containing items on the menu! There's not even a need to have "GF" notations on the menu, since everything is GF, save those two types of pizza. Imagine going into a restaurant and being able to order literally anything on the menu. And we're not talking about a small restaurant with just a few items. Picazzo's has a huge... Read more →


I wanted to share this infographic from Goodness Direct, a website based in the U.K. It provides tips for dining gluten free in many countries. You'll learn key phrases that have been translated into the native language (print the infographic and cut out the phrases to keep in your wallet), top gluten free brands in each country, and the best markets for finding a wide assortment of gluten free foods. Embedded from GoodnessDirect Blog Read more →


With Celiac Awareness Month coming to a close, we have one final gift card giveaway. This time it's a $25 Gift Card to Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano, with 22 locations spread out over 10 states. It's one restaurant our family looks forward to tracking down when traveling (unfortunately, there isn't a location near us yet -- we keep hoping!). With delectable Italian specialties including gluten free pasta and homemade gluten free pizza, you'll be tempted by many of the choices on their large Gluten Free Menu. They're always adding new gluten free items and seasonal specials, and we mentioned them in a recent Blog post where we showcased our favorite gluten-free friendly chains. DETAILS OF THE $25 GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY Have you already tried any of the gluten free offerings at Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano? If so, Submit a Review of the location you've dined to GlutenFreeTravelSite (or submit a quick review right on our DINE GLUTEN FREE app), and you'll be entered into our random drawing for a $25 Biaggi's Gift Card. If you haven't yet tried Biaggi's gluten free menu items, you can still enter the contest...just choose another favorite GF-friendly restaurant to review on our website. If you prefer... Read more →


In honor of Celiac Awareness Month, we have a couple restaurant gift card giveaways in the coming week. Our first is for a $25 Gift Card to Burtons Grill. Burtons was mentioned in my last post in which I shared some of our favorite gluten-free friendly restaurant chains and the new gluten free items on their menus. If you'd like to learn more about what Burtons Grill offers, link directly to their amazing Gluten Free Menu, and find out if they have a location near you, visit their page on our website. DETAILS OF THE $25 GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY Have you already tried any of the gluten free offerings at Burtons Grill? If so, Submit a Review of the location you've dined to GlutenFreeTravelSite, and you'll be entered into our random drawing for a $25 Burtons Grill Gift Card. If you haven't yet tried Burtons Grill's gluten free menu items, you can still enter the contest...just choose another favorite GF-friendly restaurant to review on our website. Any gluten free dining or travel review submitted to GlutenFreeTravelSite between now and Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at 11:59 pm Eastern time counts as one entry in our random drawing for the $25 Gift... Read more →


Just in time for Celiac Awareness Month, many of our favorite "gluten-free friendly" restaurant chains have added even more gluten free items to their already impressive Gluten Free Menus. There's bound to be a location of one of these chains near you…and keep the others on your radar when you travel. Our family finds that's part of the fun of traveling…getting to try some of the best GF-friendly restaurants that don't happen to have a location near us. Burtons Grill -- A chain with locations along the East Coast, Burtons is one of our personal favorites. We dined at their Charlottesville, VA location over our kids' Spring Break when we visited Monticello and Montpelier. Favorite items ordered included the Spicy Fried Calamari, Beet Salad, Mediterranean Chicken Risotto, and gluten free Fish & Chips (really…how often do you find gluten free calamari and fish and chips?!) Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano -- This chain, with locations in 10 states, is another favorite we look forward to visiting when we travel. They have many gluten free pastas on the menu, in addition to gluten free pizza (including two new ones). I'm looking forward to trying the Wild Mushroom Truffle pizza at some point. Another... Read more →