I've been gluten-free for a number of years now. I miss donuts the most. I have been working to make my own, but I don't have the recipe quite right yet. So I miss donuts and pastries. But, I am pretty brave when I go out to eat. I trust that the server will actually go and ask whether or not something is prepared with flour or has wheat. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have been fatally allergic to tree nuts all my life. You have to learn to trust your server.
So, it is with this in mind that I share with you the best experiences I have had in dining gluten-free. Not all of these restaurants have gluten-free kitchens. Some just simply have gluten-free offerings. I know for the most sensitive, that can be a problem. Here are my top five picks.
1. The Department, Joliet
I had already liked The Department. I had been there for lunch a number of times and had even bought a Groupon for them at a time. They have $5 martini nights and they throw a great birthday party. It was by surprise, though that I had the most recent, wonderful, gluten-free experience. I went there for lunch one day, fully prepared to order a salad. I glanced at the build-your-own-burger and was ecstatic to see that one of the options was a gluten-free bun. Already thrilled, I was kind of expecting this to be a typical gluten-free bun - you start eating it as a sandwich and as the cardboard-like texture overwhelms you, you give up and pick up a knife and fork to finish your sandwich. But, no, this was a GOOD gluten-free bun. I ordered steak the first time. I am going back for a burger. Soon.
Maria's added gluten-free pizza and pasta a time ago and I went running to the restaurant. I ordered gluten-free pasta with meat sauce and my dining companion ordered gluten-free pizza just so we could enjoy both. We both enjoyed both. The bonus at Maria's is that it has a salad bar, which, if you have read any of my reviews at restaurants with salad bars, you know I am a fan.
3. Biaggi's Italian Restaurant, Naperville
I gave only a brief review of this restaurant some time ago. It's past our village boundaries and requires a little drive to get there. But I think this might be my favorite gluten-free restaurant. In addition to the fact that they have an entire gluten-free menu, they will bring you gluten-free bread to dip into your olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
Finding a place with gluten-free pizza brings joy to those of us who are gluten-free. Finding one that also delivers, even more joy. But one that delivers, and has a gluten-free dedicated cooking area, complete with a specially-designed air system that keeps regular flour away from gluten-free? Well that might bring celiacs to culinary ecstasy. This is the situation at Fat Boyz. Add to that detail that this is a locally-owned restaurant, with friendly staff.
I visited this restaurant when it existed in Plainfield. It closed in March. According to its Web site, the new site for this restaurant will be in Fox Valley, but in a yet undisclosed location. I hope that what made it great for me dining gluten-free will transfer to the new location. The server at this restaurant not only asked the chef to make my chicken Vesuvio without flour, but also came out to tell me that the fryer could have cross-contamination. Being that aware of what was being prepared in the kitchen made me trust them to not make me ill.
We did review what we thought of area gluten-free options once before. We wonder if we have missed some place that you love? If so, Local Editor Dawn Aulet would love to dine with you. And, she will pick up the tab. Email her and tell her where you want to dine and when you are available.