Mario Batali Goes Gluten-Free!
OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria
1 Fifth Ave.
How is that for an attention getting headline?! Well, Mario himself isn't necessarily gluten-free, but he evidently wants there to be gluten-free options for his sensitive diners. I had the pleasure of dining at OTTO with Sloane of Allergic Girl, and Jennifer of Jennifer Ate. Otto is one of those Italian restaurants you would normally walk by, look at the menu, and after seeing mostly pizza and pasta options decide to skip it. Well, Allergic Girl got the scoop that they had gluten-free pasta and will even carefully cook a pizza for you if you bring in your own gluten-free dough! After some trial and error, which is always the case due to the learning curve involved at the beginning of these gracious efforts of trying to accommodate the gluten-free, we all ended up enjoying a deliciously safe dinner!
Chris, the general manager, told us that, "Mario sent out the word to all of his establishments that they are to have gluten-free pasta on hand." I think I can speak for the entire gluten-free community when I say:
THANK YOU, MARIO!
I just want him to know that with his fame and this gesture he is setting a standard for the rest of the hospitality industry to follow and we really, really appreciate it. Of course, with an empire as big as the Batali Restaurant Empire, this will take time for everyone involved in your dining experience to completely grasp.* So, let's remember our good manners and the virtue of patience when we are guests at some of the most notable restaurants in NYC. We want them to welcome us with open arms instead of perceiving us as impossible critics. They don't have to accommodate us, but it's so very nice that they want to accommodate us.
*Fortunately, even if you find that some of the other restaurants don't yet have the gf pasta available, being that the nature of a lot of Spanish tapas and Italian dishes (such as risotto) are naturally gluten-free you will not be disappointed. Call ahead and ask questions (preferably with a manager) and the more they hear from us as customers requesting these options then the more they will be able to fine tune their system for delivering them.
My cucumber and fennel salad was excellent!
We all voted the Pasta alla Carbonara (foreground) with cream, bacon, egg and cheese along with, off the menu, La Capricciosa (background) which consists of proscuitto, pancetta, caramelized red onions in a tomato sauce as the best plates on the table. My nectarine sorbet (not pictured ) was delicious and the olive oil gelato was suprisingly tasty! It tasted like caramel.