At GlutenFreeTravelSite, we've received several reviews of Sambuca Restaurant on the West Side of New York City, so I thought it was only fitting we give it a try while in town for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year. As those of you who live in or travel to New York City know, there's a large and growing number of independent neighborhood restaurants (as well as large chains) that offer gluten-free menu options. (You can Search our Reviews of New York establishments or our list of national and regional chains with gluten-free menus at GlutenFreeTravelSite.)
When I called to make a reservation at Sambuca, which was fortunately open on Thanksgiving, they confirmed that they did indeed have an extensive gluten-free menu and asked me if we'd be ordering a traditional Thanksgiving meal, which they'd be serving that day, or if we'd like to order from the Italian (regular or gluten-free) menus. Our family decided that we'd might as well try their Italian fare...after all, turkey is turkey, but only really good restaurants can pull off gluten-free Italian! So we decided to have our traditional Thanksgiving meal the next day at home.
Our reservation at Sambuca was at 2 pm, when the restaurant opened, and by that time, we were all starving! The restaurant was moderately crowded and continued to fill up during our time there. The gluten-free Italian menu was extensive, with probably 50% of the items from the regular menu appearing on it. Sambuca is "family style" Italian, so we ordered our dishes to share. We chose the Chopped Salad with arugula, romaine, cannelini beans, gorgonzola cheese, roasted red peppers, black olives, basil and tomatoes to start with. It was delicious. Apparently, they typically have gluten-free bread but were out of it that day. Too bad...but we were not at a loss for food! For our main courses we chose the Chicken Paillard, Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Broccoli, and Mixed Seafood Pasta with Marinara Sauce (with calamari, shrimp, clams, and mussels). All were excellent...each of us had a "favorite"...mine was the veal, although the two pasta dishes were excellent as well. They use the elbow-shaped Tinkyada pasta, which I occasionally make at home, but without as much success as they seem to have at Sambuca. (We like Schar gluten-free pasta the best.) There's something about the gluten-free pastas we have at restaurants...ironically, they are always better than they turn out at home. I think the key is not overcooking it and perhaps running cold water over the pasta when it's done to prevent further cooking even after it's drained. Regardless, Sambuca did it perfectly.
Needless to say, we were too full for dessert but look forward to visiting Sambuca again next time we're in "The City." (As a side note, New York was the winner of our first annual contest last year to find the "World's Most Celiac-Friendly Destination." We are hosting the contest again RIGHT NOW and will be choosing the geographic location with the most review submissions by December 31 as this year's winner. So PLEASE submit a review or two of YOUR favorite restaurants, resorts, cruise ships, or grocery stores to GlutenFreeTravelSite.com today!