Gluten Free in JC
May is Celiac Disease Awareness month, so I figured what better way to celebrate than to draw attention to all of the gluten-free goodies available in the town I call home, Jersey City?
While my blog is quite NYC-centric, the truth is that I’ve been B&T (that stands for “Bridge & Tunnel” for those of you who don’t know enough to look derisively at us unfashionable commuters) for 4 years now since we moved across the mighty Hudson River to trade our exclusive zip code for more square footage. And while its true that most JC folks commute into New York for work, the fact remains that our bedroom community here has quite a bit to offer on its own. Why, even Snooki and JWoww found ample entertainment when living here for 6 weeks to film their Jersey Shore spinoff! How’s that for an endorsement?
And so, if you and your gluten intolerant intestines find yourselves in my neck of the woods for an afternoon–or longer– here’s my guide to all things gluten-free in New Jersey’s second-largest city. (We’ve got you in our crosshairs, Newark!)
Bars & Restaurants
For gluten-free thin-crust pizzas and pastas, stop by John’s Pizza in Paulus Hook. If you’re feeling a bit more exotic, head west on Newark Avenue to Little India, and look for vegetarian restaurant Sapthagiri, where their menu is clearly labeled with “G”s next to gluten-free items, of which there are many. Alas, their dosas are not gluten-free… but if the dosa urge strikes, head across the street to the Dosa Hut. What the Dosa Hut lacks in ambiance, it makes up for in tastiness. In addition to the namesake dosas, other GF Southern Indian specialities, such as iddly and vadai, are also available. Place your order to-go, and eat your dosa in a more inspired setting, which would be just about anywhere other than inside the Dosa Hut. While they don’t have a specific gluten-free menu, the Hard Grove Cafe offers a variety of safe options for the GF crowd–particularly at weekend brunch. Pick an omelet from their extensive menu and pair it with rice n’ black beans, yuca fries or sweet plantains instead of toast and you will be happily full until dinnertime. The staff is super nice and kid-friendly as well. Further down Grove Street is the Taqueria Downtown, where a large selection of naturally GF tacos and Mexican platters are on offer. Once upon a time when I had hangovers to nurse, this is where it would happen.
If you’re looking to get your drink on, the expansive indoor/outdoor Biergarten, Zeppelin Hall, offers Gluten-free Redbridge beer on its menu. And Jersey Wines & Spirits sells gluten-free Bard’s sorghum beer as well.
Sophie Sophia, the stylish cake boutique and cupcake bar on Hamilton Square, just launched their first gluten-free mini cupcake: a moist little mouthful of chocolate cake topped with the perfect crown of vanilla bean frosting. (Thank you, Felicia!) It’s available every Friday and Saturday. If you’re on Grove Street and have a hankering for a little som’n som’n, pop into Beechwood Cafe for a coffee and gluten-free peanut butter cookie. And for gluten-free Whoopie Pies, stalk Jennie at Sassy Sweet Treats at one of her farmer’s market locations from May through December; see details below. If you’re in the market for a gluten-free special occasion cake, you can custom order one from local baker Stephanie Avitable at Avitably Delicious. While technically she’s located in Hoboken, not Jersey City, we won’t hold it against her. The birthday cake she made me this past year was fantastic! For packaged sweetness, Tendershoot Farms, a small market on 138 Newark Avenue just off the Grove Street PATH station, sells Tate’s Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies and Udi’s GF muffins.
On Monday and Thursday afternoons from May through November, the Farmer’s Market at the Grove Street PATH station has a few gluten free goodies on offer. Start by scoring some homemade gluten free pasta, gnocchi or ravioli, made locally in Totowa, NJ, by Fontanarosa’s. I recently tried the goat cheese crimini portabello ravioli, and thought the texture was spot on. Next, swing by the pink and white checkered stand of Sassy Sweet Treats , where owner Jennie Broderick (bless her soul) not only makes three flavors of gluten-free Whoopie Pies, and doesn’t even charge more for them than the regular variety. A veritable whoopie pie democracy! Her chocolate whoopie pie with marshmallow filling is as close to a Devil Dog as you’re likely to find on the GF diet. (Other flavors are chocolate filling or peanut butter filling. I suspect my twice-weekly habit during pregnancy played a major role in that 53 pound weight gain…) If you miss Sassy Sweet at Grove Street, look for her on Wednesday afternoons at the Hamilton Park farmer’s market or on Saturday mornings at the Van Vorst Park farmer’s market.
You can assemble quite a respectable GF pantry by visiting a few of JC’s smaller, local businesses. On 138 Newark Avenue just off the Grove Street PATH, Tendershoot Farms offers a great variety of GF pantry staples: frozen Sunshine Burgers and Alexa’s Sweet Potato Fries; Wheat Free Tamari sauce by San-J; Glutenfreeda’s GF Instant Oatmeal packets; Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour; Tinkyada brown rice pastas; Udi’s GF bagels and breads; and Mary’s Gone Crackers, in addition to a variety of GF crackers by Glutino, Crunchmaster and assorted Asian brands.
On Hamilton Square, the Downtown Co Op carries some GF packaged goods as well, and the owners happily take requests for specific items you are interested in having them stock. Multigrain Puffins, GF Cookies by Lucy’s and frozen Udi’s breads are always available, along with a variety of GF grains and pastas. While you’re there, you can also snag hard-to-find Grass-fed Milk from Natural by Nature… it’s the rare organic milk that’s not Ultra-High Temperature Pasteurized. Just leave some for my kids, please.
Among the large supermarkets, which I very rarely frequent, ShopRite does have a respectable partial aisle dedicated to gluten-free goods. You can also pick up mainstream GF products here, like Chex cereals, GF Bisquick, Betty Crocker’s GF Baking Mixes, KIND bars and other gluten-free snacks.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.