At Senza Gluten, the Gluten Isn’t Missed

Ever since the phrase “gluten-free” entered the vernacular, it has been deployed, in some circles, as a time period of gentle disparagement. In 2015, the American comic and life coach J. P. Sears went viral with a YouTube sketch titled “How to Become Gluten Intolerant,” by which he describes gluten-free bread as a “coagulation of mysterious flours that form a brick with a density of a black hole and the dryness of a desert.” It’s unlikely that Mr. Sears has dined at Senza Gluten, a reliably good and gluten-free Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village.

The substitution of wheat with various flours (rice, chickpea, tapioca) in these Italian classics doesn’t name consideration to itself.

Just a few years in the past, I took my gluten-free girlfriend there simply hours earlier than making her a proposal of marriage. The scheme labored. The {photograph} from that day by which my soon-to-be spouse appears happiest exhibits her inspecting the dessert menu. “The biscotti is gluten-free?” she requested the server. Yes. “And the tiramisu is gluten-free?” “Everything is gluten-free here,” he declared, like St. Peter at the gates of Heaven. Such scenes are frequent at Senza Gluten, which is Italian for “without gluten.” Not lengthy after the place opened, seven years in the past, an aged lady got here in alone and ordered a shrimp salad and lasagna, with layer upon layer of wealthy Bolognese sauce and melted Parmesan. After just a few bites of the lasagna, she began crying. She requested to see the chef. “For fifteen years, I haven’t tasted lasagna,” she instructed him, and kissed his palms.

Red-velvet cake, vanilla-custard éclairs, and bomboloni alla crema are amongst the choices at Senza Gluten’s café and bakery, a block south of the restaurant on Sullivan Street.

There are few surprises at Senza Gluten, and that’s largely the level. Someone who hasn’t had lasagna in fifteen years, and even satisfactory croutons of their salad, doesn’t crave novelty a lot as the acquainted, a conjuring of recognizable tastes and textures from the Before Time. Besides, making Italian meals with out wheat is daring sufficient; any additional deviation from protocol dangers courting controversy. Done proper, gluten-free cookery is an act of gastronomic legerdemain: the substitution of other flours (rice, chickpea, tapioca) shouldn’t name consideration to itself.

On a current night, the fried-and-baked cauliflower, coated in white-rice flour, in the Cavolfiore alla Parmigiana antipasto, was delectably crunchy—an ideal foil to the delicate, heat mozzarella by which it was entangled. The rigatoni, made with corn flour and wearing smoked prosciutto, three varieties of untamed mushroom, and white-truffle oil, was flawlessly al dente. The corn-based spaghetti alla pomodoro that accompanied the hen parm had a beautiful bounce, the type I’ve by no means pulled off utilizing substitutes at house. Most of the pasta is imported dry from Italy. The one exception is an off-menu particular: the handmade, silky-smooth potato-flour gnocchi, submerged in a prodigal sauce of mozzarella, Fontina, Parmesan, and Taleggio.

The kitchen at Senza Gluten not too long ago acquired a business pasta machine, however for now most of its pasta is imported dry from Italy.

For dessert, think about strolling all the way down to Senza Gluten’s café and bakery, a block south on Sullivan Street. I as soon as fell right into a deep nicely of research paralysis in entrance of its show case, caught between a vanilla-custard éclair, a pillowy bombolone alla crema, and a slice of chocolate cake topped with Grand Marnier ganache. The employees kindly guided me to the red-velvet cake, and to a glowing Italian wine that arrived in a champagne flute and tasted of candied fruit and flowers. The beautiful pairing is liable to spark a madeleine second, calling up involuntary reminiscences of an idyllic summer season day in the hills of Tuscany, even when you’ve by no means been there.

Curiously, the head chef at each institutions, Jemiko Solo, is neither gluten-free nor Italian. He’s a Georgian man whose intimacy with celiac illness is completely vicarious, and he discovered his craft by working at varied trattorias round city. In reality, a few of Solo’s recipes are near-verbatim translations of Italian classics he used to organize as a line prepare dinner, minus the gluten. The different day, one in every of his previous bosses, a six-foot-six chef from northern Italy, dropped by for some lasagna on the home. “That’s my dish,” he instructed Solo, with mock severity. “No, it’s not yours,” Solo fired again. “It used to be yours—not anymore.” (Dishes $14-$47.) ♦


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