More Gluten Free in JC
It’s only been about a year since I did a round-up of the greatest gluten-free eats in the place I call home, Jersey City, New Jersey. But there’s been so much activity in the local GF scene since then, I felt compelled to write an update for the fellow gluten abstainers in my neighborhood.
Pizza & Italian:
There is no lack of GF pizza on the Jersey side of the Hudson, so take your pick. The most exciting arrival is that of Two Boots on Newark Avenue, right off the Grove Street PATH station. They make an individual GF pizza that can host any one of its signature, eclectic toppings–and yes, they deliver.
I’ve blogged previously about GF pizza (and pasta) at John’s Pizza in the Paulus Hook neighborhood, which is a super family-friendly option. If you’re looking for something a bit trendier, then GF pizza (as well as lasagna, stuffed shells and penne) can be found at the clubbier VB3 Pizzeria on Washington Blvd (Newport area).
While they’re still not making their awesome-looking signature pizzas in a GF version, Roman Nose (Newark Avenue, near Grove Street PATH) offers a variety of GF pastas as a consolation prize. And a bowl of their GF pasta with pesto, coupled with a side of spinach and bowl of homemade lentil soup, hardly feels like a compromise.
Cruising through the Hamilton Park Farmer’s Market on Monday or Thursday evenings, you’ll pass Paolo’s Kitchen– a NJ-based restaurant with a deep bench of prepared Italian classics on offer. Their gluten free selection is impressive–with GF versions of items most places ignore (meatballs, ravioli, gnocchi and more).
Stella’s Empanadas, a farmer’s market fixture based in nearby Kearny, has introduced an oversized gluten-free empanada ($4.50) that I recently sampled. Almost certainly baked rather than fried, the slightly dry dough tasted strongly of corn. The filling was spinach/mushroom that, while flavorful, would have benefited from a little cheese. I give them an A for effort, but suggest you doctor yours up with a brush of olive oil and sprinkle of mozzarella cheese before re-heating at home in order to improve its grade in t
Upscale Comfort Food
Rare is the occasion that I feel cool enough to set foot in LITM on Newark Avenue–what with its hipster bar crowd spilling out onto the streets each evening and staff of professional “mixologists” that makes me self conscious about my pedestrian drink orders. But each time I do–for brunch or for dinner– I remind myself that I need to get over it. This place has a serious chef and a ridiculously good handle on upscale comfort food basics– including an award-winning Macaroni & Cheese. The fact that they offer a gluten-free version of their supremely indulgent Mac & Cheese may or may not actually be a good thing; luckily for me, I managed to avoid it last time I dined there in favor of one of the many other GF menu options they offer. Next time, I fear I might succumb.
How does a giant, steaming bowl of noodles sound on a blustery Jersey City winter day? If you seek comfort at the bottom of a bowl, you’ll be delighted to check out Union Republic, the sleek new cafe and ramen joint at 340 3rd Street. All of their six ramen varieties can be made with rice noodles instead of ramen noodles, and several of their entrees are gluten-free friendly as well. (I opted for the Alpha & Omega– a bowl of shiitake broth with leeks, brussels sprouts, mushroom and hard boiled egg.) Bonus: they open at 7am on weekdays and 9am on weekends… far earlier than most any other place in town.
Gluten-free vegetarians seeking warmth and some heat will love my favorite Indian veg spot in Little India– Sapthagiri. All gluten free items on their extensive menu–of which there are plenty– are clearly labeled, taking the guesswork out of ordering.
Greene Chutney Grill is a South Asian themed fast casual joint that’s perfect for a fast lunch not too far from the Post Office and waterfront (but be prepared to wait.. the line gets long!). Pick your own veggies, proteins and sauces (all GF) and load them onto a salad base or quinoa bowl to customize a combo that speaks to you.
Sweets and treats:
While he no longer shows up at our local Farmer’s Markets, Tim from City Boy Bakes drops off yummy GF cookies and muffins at the Warehouse Cafe in the Powerhouse district. Stop by for a cookie, stay for the Intelligentsia coffee!
The long-awaited Cocoa Bakery on Grand Street is finally open, and offers a few different GF treats, including a dense chocolatey cake made from almond flour. They can also do custom GF special occasion cakes.
The famous Coolhaus truck graces JC’s farmer’s markets and street fairs every so often, so when it does, be sure not to miss your opportunity to sample one of their artisan ice creams sandwiched in between two gluten free coconut almond cookies. Check out the NY truck schedule for notice of their next local appearance!