Monday, May 17, 2010

Not Intolerant to Special Diets

Many restaurants are adding gluten-free options to menus

By Julie Balise, Globe Correspondent | May 15, 2010

About two years ago, Carla Pallotta’s best friend discovered that he had celiac disease.

The diagnosis, which meant that he would no longer be able to eat foods containing gluten, presented an opportunity for Pallotta, a chef and co-owner of the North End’s Nebo Restaurant, to stretch her culinary skills.

“He was so disappointed, and I said, ‘You know something, I’m going to make something gluten-free for you,’ ’’ said Pallotta, who used trial and error to adjust her own recipes for chicken Milanese, eggplant timballo, and a fried seafood platter for her friend, before deciding to roll out a gluten-free menu at her restaurant.

Last July, Nebo unveiled a new gluten-free menu complete with six pastas, chicken, seafood, and more than 20 varieties of pizza, joining the slew of restaurants across the country that are adapting their menus with gluten-free options, including big chains such as Uno Chicago Grill and PF Chang’s China Bistro.

These eateries cater not only to the 1 percent of the nation’s population who suffer from celiac disease — an inherited autoimmune disease that requires a lifelong diet free of gluten from wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt — but also those who have other gluten sensitivities and people who want to go gluten-free for other reasons.

“Restaurateurs are very much in touch with their guests,’’ said Peter Christie, president and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. “As more and more people are becoming aware that they have gluten intolerance, restaurants are responding with gluten-free items in order to accommodate their guests.’’

Read the rest of the story here.

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