Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Pizza and Vino at Zavino

Zavino offers a variety of gluten-free pizzas
By Sara Blank

Although Philly gets a bad rap for its Byzantine liquor laws, we do have many options that don't exist in other large cities. With an abundant number of BYOBs and generous happy hours in town, I've become quite spoiled with our options. Since moving here, I've been in the pursuit of the best gluten-free happy hour the city has to offer, and I would be remiss not to share the love for my favorite restaurant in town.

I've long said to friends that Zavino has the best gluten-free pizza I’ve enjoyed at a restaurant anywhere. With its authentic-tasting crusts, Zavino quickly has become a favorite Center City spot. At Zavino, I don’t feel the need to qualify to my non-gluten-free friends that we're eating gluten-free pizza; the fluffy, flavorful crusts need no justification. Though Zavino does use a shared oven for its gluten-free pizzas, the gluten-free dough is prepared separately and those crusts are baked atop a separate pan to ensure there's no contact with any oven surfaces that would create cross-contamination.

Zavino's baked ricotta gluten-free flatbread
Zavino’s chic yet casual vibe makes it an instant hit among those visiting Center City (112 S. 13th St., 215-732-2400) or University City (3200 Chestnut St., 215-823-6897) at any time, but during happy hour (4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.) the house wines and several specials (including full-sized pizzas) are only $5. With many of the dishes already gluten free, and nearly all of the pizzas able to be modified, I’ve adopted a few standbys.

Most recently, I enjoyed Zavino's margherita pizza and cheesy bread (a baked ricotta flatbread with olive oil for dipping) from the happy-hour menu. Bonus: there is no upcharge for ordering gluten free. Though not on the happy-hour menu, a favorite of mine is the spaghetti squash, mixed with carrots, zucchini, pine nuts and tomato sauce, and topped with shredded provolone cheese. For good measure, we added greens in the form of the chicken paillard salad (sans poultry for a slightly lighter fare), a refreshing arugula-based salad with watermelon radish and thyme vinaigrette.

Spaghetti squash at Zavino
Zavino impresses with its ample selection of gluten-free options, but I’m most enamored with the quality of the food. Between the flavorful food options and welcoming atmosphere, the Center City location has quickly become my undeniable go-to for a night out with friends. The cozy dining room and relaxed outdoor seating on warm-weather days makes Zavino the perfect place to start or end an evening.

While Zavino seems quiet about their breadth of its gluten-free offerings (I was tipped off by a fellow Center City Celiac), I look forward to trying other options during future visits. In the meantime, I will continue to do my part in spreading the word about Zavino's delicious gluten-free pizza and - just as important - its happy hour specials.

Friday, June 7, 2019

News & Notes: June 7, 2019

(PC: OwowCow)
The lousy spring weather has finally broken, hopefully for good. The beginning of summer calls for what else - ice cream! The award-winning OwowCow Creamery, which has Pennsylvania locations in Chalfont (101 N. Main St., 215-716-7703), Easton (1262 Simon Blvd., Unit B106, 610-438-5269), Ottsville (4105 Durham Rd., 610-847-7070) and Wrightstown (591 Durham Rd., 215-598-3248) as well as a New Jersey outpost in Lambertville (237 N. Union St., 609-397-2234), will scoop gluten-free flavors from the freezer and also offers gluten-free cones.

Speaking of dessert, there's a new gluten-free bakery in Philly's Fairmount section. Dessertcrazy (1925 Fairmount Ave., 267-764-1411) is keto friendly, using alternative sweeteners for its baked goods.


The all-gluten-free Bleu Bear Bakery, from the owners of Haddonfield Donut Company, opens tomorrow in Haddonfield (109 Kings Hwy. E., 856-429-3703).

Move over, escape rooms: axe throwing is the newest group bonding experience. Kick Axe Throwing in Old City (833-745-9293) has several gluten-free options like baked chicken nuggets, salads and sandwiches on gluten-free bread to nosh on as you channel your inner Paul Bunyan.


South Jersey isn't left out this week: Sprouts Farmers Market just opened its first Garden State store in Marlton (237 Rt. 73 S., 856-355-8228), while the all-gluten-free Heartbeet Kitchen is readying another area location, this one in Maple Shade (2442 Rt. 38 W.). The latter is scheduled to open this summer.

The newest Alumni Grill location in Glassboro (222 Rowan Blvd., 856-243-5519) has a gluten-free fryer for french fries and also offers salads, burgers and sandwiches.

In Medford, Cielito Lindo (185 Rt. 70, 609-257-3459) has a dedicated fryer for chips and can make many dishes gluten free.

There are some new gluten-free options at the Jersey Shore this year. Jack's Shack in Stone Harbor (261 96th St., 609-368-4565) has a dedicated fryer for gluten-free chicken tenders and fries as well as corn tacos and Udi's sandwich rolls. (Thanks to reader Meghan R.)

The Younger Brother in Cape May (314 Beach Ave., 609-898-2009) notes gluten-free selections on its dinner menu. Yes, you're reading that right: gluten-free mac & cheese poppers prepared in a dedicated fryer, crab cakes and more. Sister restaurant Shamone Bites + Wine (421 Washington St. Mall, 609-884-6088) can also accommodate gluten-free diners with advance notice.

Woodie's Drive-In in Ship Bottom, Long Beach Island has gluten-free burger buns. (Thanks Scott H.)

In Margate, Tomatoe's (9300 Amherst Ave., 609-822-7535) lists gluten-free options on its menu.

The dining room menu at Marie's Seafood in Sea Isle City (4304 Park Rd., 609-263-8812) notes gluten-free fare, but be aware that the hoisin sriracha sauce served with the shrimp rolls is no longer gluten free.

Guy's Sammich Joint, Guy Fieri's casual cafe at Harrah's in Atlantic City (777 Harrah's Blvd., 609-441-5000), has gluten-free buns.


Brazi Bites' Cinnamon Churro Brazilian Cheese Bread is now at select Target stores, with availability soon at Whole Foods, Safeway, Albertsons and other markets. A twist on the popular Latin American treat, the new Cinnamon Churro recipe was crafted in collaboration with well-known gluten-free pastry chef, and four-time Food Network Cupcake Wars Champion, Kyra Bussanich. Target will soon have the company's new Empanadas, which come in four flavors: Black Bean & Cheddar, Chickpea Veggie, Chicken & Cheese and Beef & Bean.

Target is also where you can find Feel Good Foods' new snack bites, made with cauliflower crust. They come in three varieties: Three Cheese Pomodoro, Chicken Sausage and Uncured Pepperoni.

So new it's not even on the website, General Mills just debuted another gluten-free Chex variety, Peanut Butter.


Kellogg's Kashi brand has introduced two new gluten-free waffles: Berry Bliss and Golden Goodness. Both are made with quinoa and other superfoods.


Katz Gluten Free's new mini muffin snacks are great for lunchboxes and on the go. Use promo code SNACK for 20% off and purchase through this affiliate link to support Gluten Free Philly. Thank you!


The Gluten Free Philly app is new and improved: Version 2.0, if you will! It's faster and packed with more than 1,700 listings in the tri-state area. Download it from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is hosting a Celiac support group meeting on Sunday, June 30 at its King of Prussia Specialty Care Center (550 S. Goddard Blvd.). The event runs from noon to 2 p.m. and children and their families are welcome. The theme is summertime fun (vacations, travel, camps, etc.). The kids will have a summer-themed craft to do together. RSVP via email by June 23 with the number of kids and adults attending. Please bring a gluten-free snack to share.

You can register for Sunday's Step Beyond Celiac 5K walk/run at the Philadelphia Zoo beginning at 7 a.m. The event begins at 8 a.m. Hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend!

- Michael

Friday, May 10, 2019

News & Notes: May 10, 2019


Spring has sprung lots of new gluten-free products upon us. Annie's has added to its gluten-free line with a white cheddar version of its popular Bunny Tails crackers.

Look for another variety of Mission Foods' gluten-free tortilla wraps, this one a spinach herb flavor.

Rather than break apart two sandwich creme cookies to make your own double-stuffed version, Glutino has saved you the trouble with its new Super Stuffed Chocolate Vanilla Creme cookies.

As part of Celiac Awareness Month, Aldi has brought back some annual favorites like gluten-free cheesecake, while adding new products such as chocolate frosted and glazed donuts.

Woodchuck Hard Cider has released its newest variety, Sangria. Inspired by the traditional Spanish drink, Sangria is a semi-sweet cider, showcasing balanced notes of red wine, bright acidity, and berry. Available now with a full national roll out by July, Sangria (5.5% ABV) will retail for $9.99/12oz. 6-pack can.

The Philadelphia area has several new all-gluten-free establishments. Sciascia Confections produces truffles, macarons, cookies and other sweets and sells them at New Hope's Ferry Market (32 S. Main St., 215-996-0606) and across the Delaware at the Stockton Market near Lambertville (19 Bridge St., 215-996-0606).

At the Trenton Farmers Market is 100%-gluten free and vegan Lady and the Shallot (960 Spruce St., 609-955-1120). The menu features tacos, salads, panini and other fare.

The Colony Meadery in Allentown (905 Harrison St., 855-632-3669) produces all-gluten-free meads available on draft and in bottles. Colony will be one of the dozens of vendors at next Saturday's Greater Philly Gluten Free Expo.

Lovebird's second location is now open in Bryn Mawr (484-222-6554). Both the new spot and the original location in Doylestown serve gluten-free fried chicken and mac & cheese.

Crepes and Crazes in Fenwick Island, Delaware (1204 Coastal Hwy., 302-537-1313) has a separate griddle for gluten-free crepes and also offers sandwiches on gluten-free bread.

Elsewhere in the First State, Newark's Olive Tree Cafe (13 Chestnut Hill Plaza, 302-266-4598) notes gluten-free options on its menu. The fries and falafel are prepared in a dedicated fryer.

In nearby Middletown, all of the grilled options at Empire Mongolian Grill (749 N. Broad St., 302-376-1089) are gluten free.

Eggspectation is "egg-spected" to make its Delaware debut in Stanton (501 Stanton Christiana Rd.) in July. Gluten-free options are noted throughout the menu.

In Easthampton, New Jersey, Russo's Pub (1302 Monmouth Rd., 609-261-3277) has a gluten-free menu that includes separately prepared pizza and pasta.

Down in Wildwood, Mud Hen Brewing Co. (127 W. Rio Grande Ave., 609-846-7918) offers a gluten-free menu featuring tacos, salads and entrees. Sister restaurant Dogtooth Bar (100 E. Taylor Ave., 609-522-8383) also has a gluten-free menu, though it does not have a designated fryer for potato skins and fries. The bar does stock several hard ciders and hard seltzers.

Ghostfish Brewing Company's award-winning gluten-free beers have finally arrived in southeastern Pennsylvania. Several varieties are available at Bella Vista Beverage in Philadelphia (755 S. 11th St.) as well as at some suburban outlets in Folsom, Media, Norristown, Swarthmore and Wayne. Ghostfish can also be found at several locations in the Lehigh Valley.

Join Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for a gluten-free cooking class on Tuesday, May 21st in collaboration with Vetri Community Partnership. The event runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the CHOP Teaching Kitchen in Philadelphia (3550 Market St.). Children (grades 4 and up) and caregivers will have the opportunity to make a gluten-free dinner to share. Dr. Singh from the CHOP Celiac Center will also be there to cook and chat with attendees. RSVP is required for this event. Email integrativehealth@email.chop.edu or call 215-590-5043.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael

With the always updated Gluten Free Philly app for iOS and Android devices, find more than 1,700 area gluten-free-friendly businesses on the go, search by cuisine or neighborhood, make reservations and more!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Greater Philly Gluten Free Expo Returns on Saturday, May 18


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for the Greater Philly Gluten Free Expo, which has provided me with compensation. [Disclosure policy]

With the tremendous increase of gluten-free products and restaurant options in the Delaware Valley, the Greater Philly Gluten Free Expo no doubt will be bigger and better than ever this year. The expo is scheduled for Saturday, May 18 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks (100 Station Ave.).

The event will once again include local and national exhibitors, educational presentations, door prizes and, of course, plenty of gluten-free samples and concessions. The expo will be open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Hall C. VIP tickets are sold out, but general-admission tickets are still available. General-admission tickets are $10.00 each in advance ($15 at the door), with kids 12 and under free, and can be purchased by phone at 717-248-6741, at any Wegmans service desk or online. Free parking is available at the Expo Center.

More than 70 exhibitors will be sampling, selling and promoting products there. Many companies participating have carved out a niche by producing products that are difficult to replicate or find in a gluten-free form, such as the soft pretzels made by Tonya's Gluten-Free Kitchen and bagels from The Greater Knead. Local restaurants at the event include Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar and The Melting Pot, and there'll be baked goods from The Happy Mixer and others.

Attendees over 21 can also try beverages from Aurochs Brewing Co.Faber Easy Drinking, Liquors,  Cardinal Hollow Winery and Boardroom Spirits. Gluten-free foods available for sample or purchase at the event will include breads, funnel cakes, corn dogs, pizza, pastries, vegan items, baking mixes and gluten-free beers. Last year, over 2,500 consumers attended the expo.

Speakers at the event include yours truly, who will be co-leading a session on gluten-free beers with Aurochs Brewing co-founder Doug Foster; Arunjot Singh, M.D., a gastroenterologist with CHOP’s Center for Celiac Disease; Claire Baker, Director of Communications at Beyond Celiac; and author Melinda Arcara.

The advocacy organization Beyond Celiac, with headquarters in Ambler, is an expo partner and will be promoting the need for Celiac Disease testing at their booth. I'll be at the Beyond Celiac booth in the morning prior to my talk, so be sure to stop by and say hello.

The event is social-media friendly; follow the expo on Twitter (@PhillyGFExpo), Facebook (/PhillyGlutenFreeExpo) and Instagram (@PhillyGlutenFreeExpo) and share your favorite photos and products from the event.

Greater Philly Gluten Free Expo Schedule:

10:30 a.m.: Vendor area open to general-admission ticket holders
11:30 a.m.: I’m Not a Party Pooper…You Are! A Lighthearted Look at the Hard Work of Living Gluten Free with Claire Baker, Beyond Celiac                                                                       
12:30 p.m.: Beer for Everyone: A Guide to Gluten-Free Beer with Doug Foster, Aurochs Brewing and Michael Savett, Gluten Free Philly                                             
1:45 p.m.: Three Steps to Gluten-Free Living with author Melinda Arcara 
2:45 p.m.: Celiac Disease session with Arunjot Singh, M.D., Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Fielder's Choice: 2019 Gluten-Free Guide to Major League Baseball Ballparks

The new 32-Ingredient Salad at Rogers Centre in Toronto
Another baseball season brings even more gluten-free options. Many Major League Baseball ballparks have dedicated gluten-free concession stands and carts, while others have expanded their offerings.

Here's where you can find gluten-free concessions at each of the 30 MLB ballparks for the 2019 season (bookmark this post and check back throughout the season for updates; you can email me with any additions/changes that you find).

Incidentally, the Seattle Mariners are hosting a gluten-free night at Safeco Field on Thursday, June 20th with a menu that includes hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and brownies.