I was in Ithaca, NY, recently for a conference and had the chance to try out gluten-free dining at several restaurants. I was pretty nervous going in, since there weren’t any of my old favorite chain restaurants nearby. But I’m happy to report that I was pleased at the options available. Everyone I talked to seemed to understand gluten-free and there were already systems in place. There wasn’t a single place where we caught them by surprise and had to go into a lengthy explanation. Bravo, Ithaca!
Here is a rundown of the places we ate:
Ciao Pizza – Wood-fired, gluten-free pizza. They use a screen to protect the dough from contamination in the oven, and get their dough from a local bakery. (And they protect their source. They wouldn’t tell me who it was, no matter how nicely I asked). Very tasty, good price, and close to the airport.
Waffle Frolic – Gluten-free waffles and assorted fried items (they have a dedicated iron and gluten-free fryer). Located in the downtown, this quirky little restaurant is a hit with the locals. I was a little underwhelmed, though. I thought the waffles had a weird aftertaste. And if I pay almost $20.00 for two waffles, I expect a real plate and not a paper one. But that’s just me.
Boatyard Grill – In Ithaca on the southern tip of Cayuga Lake, this is an excellent restaurant for dinner. Nice selection of entrees, no specific gluten-free menu, but the waiter and the kitchen cheerfully worked with me to create exactly what I wanted to eat. The next time I’m in Ithaca, I’ll definitely go back.
Just a Taste Wine and Tapas Bar – This is a tapas restaurant in the downtown, close to campus. The menu has dozens of small dishes, most of which can be ordered gluten-free. Order several to share. Their menu changes often, but when I was there they had a flourless chocolate cake that was divine!
The Courtyard Marriott – Well, they just do breakfast, but they were more than happy to cook eggs to order for me. Plus they had bacon, fresh fruit, and yogurt. Works for me.
Cornell University – The conference I attended was hosted by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, and included several meals. I contacted them before I went, and met up with a representative at the beginning of the conference. From then on, every time there was food, there was a representative and a chef waiting to guide me through what I could and couldn’t eat. I felt safe and well cared for, and greatly appreciate Cornell University’s care.
Red Newt Bistro – Located on the west side of Cayuga Lake, about 40 minutes outside of Ithaca. It has a small menu that changes frequently, but much of it can be made gluten-free. And it all sounds fabulous! My server was able to answer almost all of my questions, and happily checked with the kitchen on a couple of small details. Plus, you can order wines made from grapes that were grown just a few feet from where you’re sitting.
If you need to eat gluten-free in Ithaca, NY, no problem. The only worry you’ll have is which of the fabulous local wines to order with your meal. (Tip: drink what you like, it’s all good!)