Eataly is an amazing store in the heart of New York City. As soon as I walk in there, I am instantly transported back to my trip to Rome in 2009. The produce, the cheeses, the charcuterie, amazing coffee, and gelato, it is all instantly Italy. I love wandering (ok, pushing) my way through the overly crowded aisles and looking at all of the interesting products. Despite being heavy in the gluten, there are gluten-free products on the shelves at Eataly… you just have to look.
I recently met a friend for some wine at Eataly’s Birreria, the rooftop beer garden. With HUGE barrels of wine, who needs beer? Although we weren’t eating, I was curious about Eataly’s gluten-free dining options. Here is what Eataly had to say:
Although we do not have an exclusively gluten-free menu at any of our restaurants, we have several options that might work for you. At Le Pizza/Pasta, you can get your pasta replaced with gluten-free penne rigate. Il Pesce, Le Verdure, La Piazza, and La Birreria all have gluten free possibilities as well, but we cannot guarantee that they have not touched gluten. For desserts, Pasticceria counter offers several gluten and dairy free dessert options. I would recommend checking our website to see the full menu for each of these restaurants: http://eatalyny.com/eat. Please feel free to contact us with any more questions.
While this was somewhat reassuring, I want to warn you that Eataly is VERY crowded. I suggest going at an off-hours time to make sure I got the full attention of my server to explain my gluten-free needs. I am definitely going back soon to actually EAT at EATALY. This is one of my favorite places in NYC and I suggest you add it to your Big Apple gluten-free itinerary!
I was obsessively planning my April vacation to Prague down to the very last minute when I happened across an interesting Facebook posting on the wall of the Mladí Celiaci (Česká Republika) page (loosely translated to Young Celiac) the day I was leaving. I did a quick Google translation of this page and discovered a brand new 100% gluten-free restaurant in Prague. In my weeks of research and freaking out about where I would eat safely and gluten-free in the Czech Republic, this was the first time I read about Restaurace Na Zlaté křižovatce. I was really excited to find this posting and even more excited when the head chef emailed me back (in English) immediately. He confirmed that indeed they opened for business as of April 1, 2011 with a 100% gluten-free menu and open daily from 11.00 to 23.00. I knew this was a definite stop on my Prague itinerary.
On my second day in Prague, I decide to venture slightly away from the main touristy area to find Restaurace Na Zlaté křižovatce for a late lunch/early dinner. I was staying near Old Town Square and this was a 20-minute walk from my hotel. I was a bit nervous as as I wandered down an unassuming street behind the Florenc bus depot, but then I saw one of the best signs a Gluten-Free Globetrotter could see in any country: a big, crossed-out wheat symbol.
As if that sign on the front wasn’t enough, the first thing I saw when I entered this bright restaurant was a wall of Schär gluten-free products. I immediately let out a sigh of relief. In the 36 hours I had been in Prague, I was jet-lagged and my meals consisted of gluten-free rolls, cheese, and turkey sandwich that I brought with me from NYC. I was ready for a delicious traditional Czech meal and that was exactly what I got from Chef Martin Vozár and his staff.
I was pleasantly greeted by head waiter Jarda who immediately introduced me to Chef Martin. I was the only patron in the restaurant at the time so Chef Martin graciously agreed to let me look around the kitchen where I also met Chef Viktor. During this brief tour, Chef Martin explained that everything in the kitchen was gluten-free and that the restaurant worked closely with Sdružení celiaků České republiky, the Association of Celiac in the Czech Republic, to learn about gluten-free dietary needs.
Traditional Czech food is very heavy on flour and bread products, so Chef Martin told me the the goal of this restaurant was to provide delicious, gluten-free, and traditional Czech food at a reasonable price. Chef Martin felt the best way for me to experience traditional Czech foods was for him to prepare me a tasting menu. I was thrilled to oblige.
Throughout the next hour and a half, I was treated like a gluten-free princess. Chef Martin prepared five amazing gluten-free plates for me which he came out to discuss as I was enjoying the meal. I also had my very first gluten-free beer on draft! Celia, the gluten-free beer (translation: bezlepkove pivo) produced by Zatec, is the first gluten-free beer from the Czech Republic. If the Czechs know anything at all, they know their beer and this is really one of the best gluten-free beers I ever drank either from a bottle or on draft.
Here is the rundown of my tasting meal with the rough English translations:
Amuse Bouche: Homemade gluten-free toast with Italian cheese, onion chutney, and grilled tomatoes
Soup: Cabbage soup with slices of sausage
Main Course 1: Beef with horseradish sauce and gluten-free dumplings
Main Course 2: Chicken on the bone with red cream sauce and spatzle
Dessert: Strawberry and Star Anise gazpacho with chocolate mousse
Much to my surprise my favorite dishes were the beef with horseradish sauce, the gluten-free dumplings, and the dessert. Additionally, the gluten-free bread was a pleasant way to start off my meal. The flavor and attention paid to these gluten-free dishes did not go unnoticed. In a culture that is so dependent on gluten thickeners and bread products, it was simply amazing to enjoy a traditional meal that tasted so normal but was entirely gluten-free.
As an added bonus, all diners at Restaurace Na Zlaté křižovatce got 15% off all of the Schär products that were for sale in their restaurant. I loaded up on some of my Schär favorites including breadsticks, cookies, and hazlenut wafers. I was too full from the meal, but these treats were enjoyed back in my hotel room later. My grand total for the meal and the Schär goodies was only about $20 USD.
Chef Martin, Chef Viktor, Jarda, Lenka, and Kristyna all helped me to have a very memorable traditional Czech meal in a very safe environment. My only regret is that I did not make it back to Restaurace Na Zlaté křižovatce for a second meal. I would have loved to try their homemade gnocchi and some potato dumplings with apple marmalade for dessert.
Thank you Restaurace Na Zlaté křižovatce for such a wonderful gluten-free meal in the heart of Prague. I have already suggested your restaurant to two of my blog readers who I think have already visited your restaurant. I will highly recommend you to others traveling to the Czech Republic. You are worth the trip!
Restaurace Na Zlaté křižovatce
Za Poříčskou bránou 382/16
Praha – Florenc, 186 00
Telefon: +420 775 110 468