If you ask any foodie in New York City what they think of L’Apicio, L’Artusi, Dell’anima, or Anfora, I’d be SHOCKED if you found someone who didn’t like these restaurants. I’d also be SHOCKED if you found someone whose jaw didn’t drop as he or she exclaimed “oh my god I love it there” and SHOCKED if you found someone who didn’t immediately start naming all of their favorite dishes at each restaurant. The brussels sprouts at L’Artusi! The pasta and gluten free pasta at L’Apicio! The wine at Anfora! The octopus at Dell’anima! There is no question that these Epicurean Group masterpieces are some of the most well known restaurants in New York City, and last week I was fortunate enough to sit with Executive Chef Gabe Thompson and discuss how he caters to people with gluten allergies and sensitivities, and what the gluten free options are on his menus.
On his gluten free pasta… If you haven’t tried the gluten free pasta at L’Artusi or L’Apicio, you need to stop reading this and go try it now. As Chef Gabe explained, his restaurants have had gluten free pasta for the last 3 years or so, and in the last 9 months they have started making their gluten free pasta in-house. The pasta is a blend of potato, rice, and tapioca flour and it is absolutely delicious. The Epicurean team introduced gluten free pasta into their restaurants after they saw Batali and other top restauranteurs offering the substitute and as gluten free dining was becoming a larger part of their restaurant.
On catering to diners with dietary restrictions… Menu items are meant to be allergy friendly. At Italian restaurants it can be tough to serve delicious allergen-free meals, as most dishes contain gluten and dairy in some form, as well as garlic and onion which are two allergens that are more common than people think! As Chef Gabe explained, “We don’t sneak gluten in.” If gluten is added to a dish it is because breadcrumbs are added; however, breadcrumbs are just added for texture and can easily be withheld.
On training his employees… Menus at the Epicurean restaurants change often. When a new menu item is added, it is posted so employees can see the addition and which ingredients are in the dish. Employees also go through regular trainings to familiarize them with the menu and the different offerings.
On his favorite dishes… Chef Gabe is inspired by vegetables and takes menu pairing very seriously. While at L’Apicio I witnessed the team decide which new fruit they would feature on their watercress salad; grilled blackberry with sliced almonds or grilled peaches with pistachios?? Chef Gabe commented that his favorite dishes are the salads, the mushrooms at L’Artusi and the chicken entrees at either location. I had the chicken at L’Apicio when I went to the restaurant the following night and I can vouch for how INCREDIBLE this chicken is. Another must try!
Thank you Chef Gabe and the Epicurean team for meeting with me, allowing me to partake in a food tasting, and for providing New York City with four unbelievable restaurants!