The Dish: 22 Gluten-Free-Friendly Places
Whether you eat gluten-free due to an allergy or for lifestyle reasons, there are plenty of local restaurants and businesses that can cater to your needs.
This post was updated on January 18, 2018 from an earlier version.
Dining out is easier than it used to be for those with restrictive diets. Whether you eat gluten-free due to an allergy or for lifestyle reasons, there are plenty of local restaurants and businesses that can cater to your needs. But you don’t need to stick to strict nutrition in order to enjoy these gluten-free foods or restaurants; the recipes and dishes are delicious no matter what type of diet you follow.
Editor’s Note: No matter where you go, it’s very important to alert your server or the manager about an allergy. Even if something is listed as gluten-free, you want to make sure cross-contamination is avoided. They can only do this if you tell them in advance.
Here are some of our favorite gluten-free-friendly businesses:
A 1977 Volkswagen Bus serves up some great New England fare with an entirely gluten-free twist, including fish and chips, fried oysters, clam cakes and fried shrimp made using a chia seed, panko and corn batter. The business was founded by Christina Scotti after she discovered she had celiac disease and didn’t want to miss out on eating her favorite foods. “My whole father’s side of the family is from Rhode Island, and the idea of never being able to have traditional New England food in the summers again was sad to me, until I thought about creating a new option,” Scotti says. The former reporter covered entrepreneurship and was inspired by the various budding business owners she interviewed around the country. In turn, she decided to launch a small business of her own. Scotti adapted a ’70s VW bus because she loves the music from that era and the sense of freedom and adventure the bus connotes, and she named it after her dog, Lola. Find the bus at its main spot at the seawall in Narragansett on Saturdays starting July 1, and at this summer’s Newport folk and jazz festivals. It is the first gluten-free truck to be at these events! facebook.com/lolasbluefarm
This little bakery pops up at the Hope Street, Armory and Goddard Park farmers markets selling gluten-free and vegan baked goods. Baker Jessica Sullivan’s line of snacks, treats and breads rivals the texture and flavors of traditional versions. Sullivan, who is gluten-intolerant, decided to launch the business after being unable to find good bread to meet her dietary needs. She creates a four-flour blend using ingredients from Bob’s Red Mill (made in a gluten-free facility), including organic brown rice flour, organic oats, tapioca flour and potato flour, and mixes them all together for her dough base. Bread varieties include bare bread, basil, country herb, dill, garlic rosemary, onion chive, molasses oat and sandwich rolls. There are various gluten-free snacks including cheesy crunchers and pizza crunchers, honey and maple grahams, bread crumbs and croutons. For those with a sweet tooth, try cinnamon rolls, apple muffins, double chocolate chunk cookies and much more. Sullivan is transitioning all goods to vegan. 401-339-6500, twolittlebuns.com
While working on the opening menu for Eli’s, chef-owner Eli Dunn wanted his restaurant to be as inclusive as possible without losing sight of his style of cooking. The restaurant caters to all sort of diets, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. At Eli’s, you can indulge in shrimp and grits, Thai yellow chicken curry and chicken jambalaya sans gluten. But don’t miss the gluten-free falafel or sweet chili cauliflower; there are so many options! Even the children’s menu has gluten-free, hand-breaded chicken nuggets that put Mickie D’s to shame. A vegan and gluten-free tasting customized to each guest’s dietary needs (called Pam’s dinner; it’s named after Eli’s wife) is also available. At the time when Eli’s opened, Pam was vegan and gluten-free, and Eli tested all his recipes on her discerning palate. “It’s also an opportunity for my cooks to be creative ‘a la minute,’ ” says Dunn. “I’ve had folks literally hand me a list of food allergies that we used to brainstorm and come up with something delicious in the middle of the rush. It’s a challenge, but worth it when folks who can’t eat at other restaurants tell me how much they appreciate my willingness to go above and beyond for them.” 40 Market St., Warren, 401-245-1809, eliskitchenwarren.com
Those following a gluten-free diet will love the Malted Barley’s gluten-free pretzels that come in varieties like asiago and parmesan, garlic and parsley, caraway and everything, with dipping sauces like chipotle aioli, bleu cheese, apricot butter and more (but take note the stuffed pretzels, beer cheese and honey mustard are not gluten-free and you should always alert your server if you are gluten intolerant or have Celiac Disease). You can order any of the sandwiches with a gluten-free pretzel bun, including a grilled cheese, a BLT, the cannellini pretzel sandwich and many more options. The restaurant specializes in craft beer, offering thirty-seven draft lines and sixty-plus bottles and cans. There’s a gluten-free cranberry cider on tap (Downeast Cranberry Blend) and there are eight gluten-free bottles and cans, including the Glutiny Pale Ale from New Belgium (please be aware that the Omission line of pale ale, lager and IPA is gluten-removed and may still contain traces of gluten). 334 Westminster St., Providence, 401-490-0300; 42 High St., Westerly, 401-315-2184, themaltedbarleyri.com
Pizza J will gladly substitute gluten-free crust for any pizza. We like the Tony Clifton with herbed ricotta, potato, olive oil, roasted red pepper, onion and elephant garlic and the King Tidal Wave with smoked Tasso ham, roasted pineapple, scallions, cheese and red sauce. Vegans can also sub in vegan ricotta for cheese. There are many gluten-free appetizers, too, including sweet corn polenta with summer vegetable succotash. Julians, also on the West Side, offers a more extensive menu with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, including Boomer’s Butternut Squash (root vegetable and tempeh hash with kale, apple-cranberry chutney and thyme creme fraiche), the corned beef/seitan plate, and the dashi bowl with ramen noodles, oyster mushrooms, bok choy, radish, sprouts, spicy miso and soft-boiled egg. For brunch, choose just about anything but be sure to skip the bread. Two poached eggs with the hash would make a satisfying meal. Pizza J, 967 Westminster St., Providence, 401-632-0555, pizzajprovidence.com; Julians, 318 Broadway, Providence, 401-861-1770, juliansprovidence.com
Blackie’s has an entirely gluten-free and paleo menu for those following a strict diet, and they are very mindful of all allergies by putting various stickers on plates so that the kitchen and servers are aware of allergies and guests can be assured they’ve been taken care of. “Many precautionary measures have been put into place, like designated fryolators, pans, knives, cooktops and cutting boards,” according to the menu. “We take great pride in providing our celiac community with a creative, extensive, safe and memorable dining experience.” Choices include the shrimp pad Thai salad, crispy squid and pulled pork nachos for apps, plus pizzas on Against the Grain crust. For pizzas, try the truffled wild mushroom or J.I.’s pie, or opt for a gluten-free burger or various entrees that range from seared scallops and grilled littlenecks to a cantina steak with a corn and bell pepper saute and whipped chorizo lime butter. 181 George Washington Hwy., Smithfield, 401-231-4777, blackiesbulldogtavern.com
Garden Grille specifies gluten-free items on its menu so you can feel confident that you will get what you expect. Options include gluten-free nachos and cauliflower herb risotto cakes, Reggie’s Raw Heaven, No Noodle Pad Thai, gluten-free macaroni and cheese, a stir-fry bowl and more. There are plenty of brunch options as well, including the Sunday Sammy on a gluten-free English muffin. For dessert, head next door to Wildflour Vegan Bakery where you can indulge in gluten-free cupcakes, cookies, bars and tarts, brownies, cheesecakes and breads. There are dozens of sweet treats to choose from for restrictive diets. 727 East Ave., Pawtucket, 401-726-2826, gardengrilleri.com; 727 East Ave, Pawtucket, 401-475-4718, wildflourbakerycafe.com
This Newport hotspot, in the heart of downtown, has a menu that can be altered to provide gluten-free-friendly options. Look for the gluten-free symbols on each item and simply let your server know. Some dishes that are already gluten-free, or can be prepared with gluten-friendly ingredients, include sticky glazed duck drumsticks with polenta; spinach and hummus dip; the Jo’s Burger and lobster salad roll; steak frites, a grilled pork chop or seafood fra diavolo. Even the french fries have their own fryer so no cross-contamination can occur. The restaurant uses meat and produce from local Rhode Island producers and whenever possible, chefs use natural meats with no hormones or antibiotics. 24 Memorial Blvd. W., Newport, 401-847-5506, josamericanbistro.com
Flatbread Company’s pizzas are wood-fired and spread with organic, wood-fired cauldron tomato sauce, free-range chicken and nitrate-free pepperoni and sausages. All varieties can be ordered on a small gluten-free flatbread, including the Providence Community Flatbread with caramelized onions, mushrooms, whole milk mozzarella and parmesan or the Punctuated Equilibrium with sweet red peppers, kalamata olives, red onions, Vermont Butter goat cheese and mozzarella. There is even a gluten-free brownie sundae for dessert featuring S.B. Winsor’s all-natural ice cream, warm homemade chocolate sauce and whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup. 161 Cushing St., Providence, 401-273-2737, flatbreadcompany.com/providence
At UMelt you can order any of the grilled cheese sandwiches on gluten-free bread for a small upcharge. Gourmet varieties include the tomato basil, the Vermonster with cheddar, maple glazed bacon and caramelized onions or the turkey brie with roasted turkey, brie and shallot fig jam. There are also gluten-free soups and potato chips. You can also order delivery online to make it even easier to get your gluten-free grilled cheese fix. 129 Weybosset St., Providence, 401-383-6732, umelt.fireandwatergroup.com
Recent additions thanks to suggestions from our community:
11. Durk’s Bar-B-Q
Durk’s is a great Texas-style barbecue spot on Thayer Street breathing new (locally-owned) life into the bustling student-centric thoroughfare. Gluten-free folks can order all of the meats, including slow-cooked ribs, pork belly, brisket, chicken and sausage and most of the sides, too. Gluten-free sides include potato salad, coleslaw, chili, collard greens and salad. The meats are smoked in an Ole Hickory Smoker nicknamed “Stella” over eight to fourteen hours, and the bar is well known for its extensive whiskey selection with more than 100 bottles, including rye and bourbon. The barbecue sauce is also gluten-free. Even though whiskey is made from barley, the distilled spirit is technically safe for gluten-free folks because distillation removes the harmful gluten proteins. However, since everyone reacts to gluten differently, drink it at your own risk. 275 Thayer St., Providence, 401-351-2807 durksbbq.com
Mmmm doughnuts. If you are Celiac or gluten-free, odds are it’s been awhile since you’ve had a good doughnut without the ahem, negative effects. Augusta Street Kitchen bakes doughnuts that are completely gluten-free, as well as gluten-free cakes, cookies and other treats that are available for pre-order in the soon-to-open bakery and cafe, and at the wintertime farmers market at Hope Artiste Village on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Pawtucket. Some of the varieties include organic blueberry doughnuts, chocolate birthday cake ganache doughnuts, cake bombs, mini banana breads and vegan and paleo cashew cacao pies. You must call ahead and pre-order for pick up at both the cafe location and the farmers market. The cafe is not yet open. 361 Academy Ave., Providence, 401-339-2027, augustastreetkitchen.com
You don’t have skip the pasta if you head to these two Italian restaurants, both located on Federal Hill, the Italian section of Providence. Each restaurant has a specific gluten-free menu that includes choices like penne all Bolognese, mushroom ravioli and risotto with shrimp, plus the veal or chicken Milanese, and dozens of other options at Pane e Vino and gnocchi al forno, carbonara and chicken Parmigiano at Massimo. Pane e Vino, 365 Atwells Ave., Providence, 401-223-2230, panevino.net; Massimo, 134 Atwells Ave., Providence, 401-273-0650, massimori.com
Any of the specialty pizzas at Federal Hill Pizza can be made with a special gluten-free crust at either of the two locations in Providence or Warren. Just add $2 to the cost of the twelve-inch. Some of our favorites include the Owner’s Favorite (fresh mozzarella, red sauce, prosciutto, mushrooms, goat cheese and basil) and Zorba the Greek (fresh mozzarella, garlic-infused olive oil, kalamata olives, hamburger, feta cheese and red onion finished with tzatziki sauce and basil). 495 Main St., Warren, 401-245-0045; 1039 Chalkstone Ave., Providence, 401-331-3310, federalhillpizza.com
You can sub Udi’s gluten-free bread on almost every sandwich. The options are endless with choices like barbecue pulled pork, a Cuban, and buffalo chicken served hot, and Apple Valley Turkey, the Ocean State Ultimate Grinder, a Greek wrap and curried turkey salad served cold. Check out the full menu here, and place a group order online. 155 Westminster St., Providence, 401-521-6772, website
Bayberry has a separate gluten-free menu for guests that includes choices like beer cheese with an assortment of veggies, deviled eggs, roasted carrot and celeriac salad, a Gastros hot dog, meat and cheese boards, a burger served on greens, Rhode Island steamed littlenecks and a kabocha squash and daikon radish rye bowl. The restaurant also serves various ciders that constantly rotate, including Shacksbury on draft, Bantam and Eden in cans and a Fable Farm large format bottle. There’s also a sparkling rose cider and wine on draft and in bottles. 381 W. Fountain St., Providence, 401-383-9487, bayberrybeerhall.com
17. A and J Bakery
This Cranston bakery is a dedicated nut- and gluten-free facility that makes prevention of cross-contamination a priority. Safety and customer satisfaction is the owners’ main concern, and they guarantee that all products are nut- and gluten-free. Some products can be produced in a combination of dairy-, egg- or soy-free as well. The bakery is known for its pies, cookies, breads, brownies, pie dough and other items, but they also have some prepared foods available to heat and eat, including eggplant parmesan and ready-to-bake pizzas. It’s a great bakery if you need a specialty cake made for a birthday or other occasion. 1458 Park Ave., Cranston, 401-228-8696, aandjbakery.net