Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Restaurant Review: Via Roma (Toms River, NJ)

People have been mentioning Via Roma (2360 Route 9, Toms River, NJ 08755) to me for a while now. Since it is over an hour away, I put it on the list of restaurants I'd like to try at some point. The reality was I should have rushed there right away!

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Philly Cheese Steak
at Via Roma in Toms River, NJ
Via Roma has a full published gluten free menu (it is a tri-fold menu with small print, just like their regular menu). After pondering over the menu for 10 minutes, I started to ask about specific items to see if they were/could be made dairy free too. The owner shook his head and said, “oh, you’ve got the wrong menu.” “You want our Gluten Free / Dairy Free menu.” Um, there’s a gluten free / dairy free menu? Well, at Via Roma, there is! Any items that are gluten free/vegan are also clearly labeled on this menu. Oh, but wait, they're not done – there are also a number of gluten free / vegan cakes from Papa Ganache Vegan Bakery (review: Papa Ganache Vegan Bakery) for dessert!

Overall the GF/DF options are amazing. There are plenty of appetizers, a whole list of GF/DF sub sandwiches (courtesy of Three Bakers’ rolls), entrees, pizza and more. I really couldn’t decide what to have but finally settled on a GF/DF Cheese steak with peppers and onions. The roll was light and fluffy and held together as well as a gluten containing roll would have being that overstuffed.

Gluten Free / Vegan Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Cake
from Papa Ganache at Via Roma in Toms River
After dinner I was truly stuffed but remembered that they offer four different gluten free / vegan cakes from Papa Ganache. It would have been a shame to go all that way and not have dessert! I ended up with a cake that Elvis Presley used to love: peanut butter, banana and chocolate. I had a couple of bites, then packed the rest up for a day I wasn’t about to burst!

Via Roma is quite a drive for me but one that is well worth it. I can’t wait to go back!
Via Roma on Urbanspoon

Other recent restaurant reviews:

Gluten Free at Pizza Fusion

Gluten Free at Europa South

Click here for more NJ Gluten Free Restaurants

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Product Review: Turkey Pork Roll (pork free, gluten free, dairy free)

While my two main food issues are gluten and dairy, I am also pork free and coffee free and have lesser issues with tomato, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit and eggs. I’ve been able to substitute Jennie-O turkey ham for ham and beef cervelat in place of salami. Oscar Meyer (formerly Louis Rich) makes a great turkey bacon. The one pork item I was still missing was Taylor ham (known to some unfortunate souls as pork roll). 
Godshall's Turk Roll (pork free pork roll)
on a Canyon Bakehouse Roll

On a recent trip to Shoprite, I discovered Godshall’s Turk Roll an obvious Taylor ham substitute. I had to wait until I confirmed their lactic acid starter culture wasn't sourced from dairy (it isn’t) and bought a package on my next trip (my next trip being as soon as I found out it was dairy free!).

The Turk Roll is sold in a small box with eight pre-cut slices. (For those familiar with Taylor ham, there is no outer cloth to cut and peel back.) I scored the edges and fried them up on my pancake pan.

Both the taste and texture were great. The flavor was slightly ‘spicier than mild’ which based on my recollection is spicier than Taylor ham was. I had the slices on a Canyon Bakehouse hamburger bun. Once I find a good scramble egg substitute I look forward to making a (pork free) Taylor ham, (egg free) egg and (dairy free) cheese all on a gluten free roll!
This is definitely a product I will purchase again!

Frying up some turkey pork roll!
Other product reviews:

Gluten Free Product Review: Udi's Sub Sandwich Rolls

Gluten Free Product Review: Kinnikinnick Donuts

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gluten Free Map of NJ and Latest Restaurant List updates (15 Restaurants, 2 casinos, 3 chains, and one quick serve)

I’ve made two big changes to my Gluten Free NJ Restaurant List. First up, the list has grown so big that I decided to split it into two pages. All of the independent restaurants stayed on the original page whereas the second page is for Gluten Free Fast Food, Quick Serve, and Chain Restaurants.

The second big change is at the bottom of the original restaurant list. I’ve created a map of all of the independent restaurants, small markets and gluten free bakeries! I did include a handful of chains/quick serve restaurants. Mostly those that have actual gluten free items (i.e. aren’t just gluten friendly) and are small enough that I wasn’t adding too many locations. The map is still a work in progress but hopefully you’ll find it useful.

So without further ado, here are the updates!

Independent Restaurants:

6 Brothers Diner (475 Route 46E, Little Falls, NJ 07424) – they have a gluten free menu but it is not online. I stopped in late on a Tuesday evening when they would be less busy and the waitstaff had very little GF knowledge and even less interest in being helpful. Most of my dairy free questions went unanswered.

Biddy O'Malleys (191 Paris Avenue, Northvale, NJ 07647) – flags GF on their menu. Has eight menu items that are naturally gluten free and many others that they can modify to be so.  Everyone I've spoken to who's eaten here raves about it. I just ate here tonight and it is great.  DF required a little extra work but well worth it.  Review coming soon.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa (One Borgata Way, Atlantic City, NJ 08401) – they've added gluten free menus to a number of their restaurants: izakaya, Fornelletto, The Metropolitan, Bobby Flay Steakhouse, Roma, and N.O.W. (Note: a hand-full of their other restaurants can accommodate but don't have specific gluten free menus.)

Castalia (997 McBride Avenue, Woodland Park, NJ 07424) – has gluten free pasta.

Crust and Crumble (658 Cookman Avenue (or 633 Lake Avenue), Asbury Park, NJ 07712) – has both gluten free pizza and dairy free cheese for said pizza!

Double S Diner (Rt23, Wantage area) - to re-open in summer of 2012.

Harrah’s Resort (777 Harrah’s Boulevard, Atlantic City, NJ 08401) 7 eateries at Harrah’s have been certified via the GREAT program. These are Bill's Bar & Burger, the Diamond Club, Dos Caminos, Luke Palladino, Sammy D's, The SteakHouse, and the Waterfront Buffet. Unfortunately, all this means is that their staff has been trained to deal with gluten free diners. As of yet, none of the seven have created a gluten free menu, nor have they posted the specifics of how they accommodate.

Jefferson Diner (5 Bowling Green Parkway, Lake Hopatcong, NJ 07849) - has very brief, combined gluten free / vegetarian menu and not all of the vegetarian items on it are gluten free.

Kind Burgers (coming soon) (1064 Ocean Avenue, Sea Bright, NJ 07760) – pre-opening articles promise gluten free fries and gf/df buns.

La Bottega (14 Oak Street, Ridgewood, NJ 07450) – offers gluten free soups, salads and panini’s (panini’s $2.50 more). Menu items have small gluten free symbol on them. WARNING: Panini’s made with bread that contains dairy.

Puzo’s Family Restaurant of Ridgewood (16 West Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ 07450) – has both gluten free pasta and pizza.

Red's Jersey Mex CafĂ© (11th Street and Haven Avenue, Ocean City, NJ 08226) – has an extensive gluten free Mexican menu. Dairy free may require some care. I haven’t been yet.

Rocca (203 Rock Road, Glen Rock, NJ 07452) Lists gluten free pasta.

Rudy’s Italian Restaurant (300 South Avenue, Garwood, NJ 07027) – Garwood location ONLY has gluten free menu. Menu offers pasta and many gluten friendly choices.

Salute Bistro (173 Glenridge Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042) – has gf pizza and gf pasta both for an additional $3.

Serpico's (307 Main Street, Allenhurst, NJ 07711) - has a gluten free menu with pizza and pasta. Dairy free is fairly tough, but they do offer a gf/df brownie and pasta with garlic and olive oil.

Washington Inn (801 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ 08204) GF flagged on menu, DF might be a bit of a challenge here.

Gluten Free Chains:

Bertucci’s – (10 Mid-Atlantic/New England States plus 7 in NJ) has a good sized GF menu which they recently expanded. Interestingly they don’t offer gluten free pasta or pizza. It’s hard to tell from the website how difficult or easy dairy free would be here. Now that their menu is a bit larger, I may just try them out.

Brio Tuscan Grille (19 states plus NJ: 901 Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002, 500 Rt. 73 South, Marlton, NJ 08053 and coming soon to 3710 Route 9, Freehold NJ 07728) - has separate gluten friendly menu on website; unknown other allergens.

Chevy’s - (AZ, FL, IL, MD, MN, MO, NV, NY, SD, VA + 3 in NJ:Clifton, Morris Plains, and Linden) - has added a gluten free menu. They have corn tortillas for soft tacos, enchiladas and fajitas. Sadly, their chips are not gluten free.

Ground Round (IA, ME, MI, MN, MO, ND, NY, OH, PA, SD, WI + NJ: Bradley Beach and East Windsor)- announced they are adding a gluten free menu soon.

Iron Hill Brewery - will open a location in Voorhees winter 2012/2013.

Miller’s Ale House will be opening a location in Paramus.

P.F. Chang’s - added 7 more menu items. (Review coming soon.)

Pei Wei - recently opened a third NJ location near Paramus (83 West Spring Valley Avenue, Maywood, NJ 07607)   Read my: Pei Wei Review from their Moorestown location.

Season 52 - will open a second NJ location in Edison in spring 2013.

Gluten Free Fast Food / Quick Serve:

Fins Tropicali (120 Main Street, Bradley Beach, NJ 07753; 1930 Route 88, Brick, NJ 08724; 2100 Route 35, Sea Girt, NJ 08750) - has a gluten free menu with soft corn tacos/tortillas. Sadly, their chips are fried in a shared frier.

Fresh City is now inside St. Barnabas Medical Center (94 Old Short Hills Road, Livingston, NJ 07039).

As always, if you see a restaurant in NJ that I'm missing and they have their gluten free menu online, please let me know via the Contact Me form on the left.  Thanks!