Whenever my college roommate Alexis comes to town, she puts all culinary decisions in my hands. I love that she trusts me, but it also becomes a great responsibility. I feel personally culpable if the experience is less than stellar. But more than that, I like to surprise and delight with choices she might not have found as a tourist navigating the city on her own.
Porchetta is a restaurant that is known for its pork sandwich served on a crusty (gluten-filled) baguette. So it may come as some surprise that this little nook in the East Village has delicious fare for the gluten-free and even vegetarians. The menu is simple, only 10 items including drinks and dessert. But I picked this restaurant for a recent Sunday dinner outing for a group of carnivores, vegetarians and gluten-free diners.
The omnivores by definition have access to the entire menu, but for the vegetarians, there was a fresh mozzarella sandwich, gazpacho, chicory salad, cooking greens and white beans. Both have one dessert option – Italian biscotti.
While the crusty baguette was tempting, I certainly didn’t leave hungry or feeling deprived. The gluten-free main is the porchetta plate – a large serving of the eponymous dish with a side of the white beans and cooking greens. My omnivorous friend Alexis and I also shared the chicory salad and the crispy potatoes with burnt ends.
While the porchetta plate is yummy, the crispy potatoes with burnt ends provide a culinary experience so delightful, it could tempt a vegetarian to cross over to ‘the dark side.’ Burnt ends are the charred pieces of porchetta deemed unfit for the porchetta plate or sandwich. But the crispy, salty pieces of meat combined with the little pieces of potatoes take a side dish to a level that surpasses the main. My mouth waters as I remember that Sunday dinner.
Because the biscotti were the only sweets (and because I love a ‘progressive dinner), we elected to change locations for dessert. We went to Lula’s Sweet Apothecary, a vegan sweets shop with gluten-free ice cream cones! We smuggled in some bacon chocolate contraband (don’t think the vegans would approve) and the evening was almost complete. Despite my efforts to keep Alexis on her toes with new choices every visit, we also went to Terroir, which is now ‘our spot.’ A balance of new and familiar is the perfect way to pass an evening with an old friend.
Address: 110 East 7th Street, between 1st Ave and Ave A, NY, NY 10013
Is there a restaurant or bakery you want me to check-out? A product you want me to review? Any other questions or feedback?
glutenguide at gmail [dot] com