I had the absolute pleasure of dining at Palà last night with a dear friend and colleague of mine who actually suggested do a gluten-friendly restaurant…nice. We cabbed it down to the Lower East Side and were there in about 15 mins. I actually had not been in that neighborhood in years so it is always fun to see how neighborhoods are changing.
When we arrived at the restaurant it appeared as though we would basically have it to ourselves. There was one other table of four but it was Monday evening after all and we were eating early for NYC. More people did come in as the evening progressed. I had made a reservation, just in case, but clearly it was not needed. I am a big planner so like to have set plans. The restaurant has a rustic feel to it with a large glass garage door that can be opened in nice weather to make an open air dining room – coupled with the sidewalk seating.
We were greeted by a friendly waitress (who would be with us the entire meal) and given our choice of tables. We were presented with the menus and specials and our cocktail orders taken. Overall the service was very good. It was efficient, our server knowledgeable, and service was non intrusive. So what did GFM eat?
Well, the menu is divided into two sides the regular with gluten-free options and a vegan side (which is nice for my vegan friends out there). The menu is cleverly coded with what options are available gluten-free or vegetarian or dairy free (so multiple sensitivities and allergies are addressed). Perhaps the most notable messaging on the menu is the fact that they use a dedicated fryer AND pizza oven. Unfortunately I could not sample any of the fried delicacies as their one shellfish item was also deep-fried. Oh, well…nothing lost.
I opted to start with the Rapa salad which was roasted yellow beets, ginger, red onions mixed greens and pecorino cheese dressed in a light vinaigrette. It was, in a word, delicious. Just the right amount of tart dressing paired with the earthiness of the yellows beets and the saltiness of the cheese made for a wonderfully simple salad that was full of complex flavors – all of which worked remarkably well together. For my main course I was torn between the pasta or the pizza. Their extensive pasta choices (GF diners get a choice of three types of pasta: penne, fusilli, or spaghetti) can be dressed in any of the seven sauces they offer. I make tons of pasta at home so decided to go for something I do not make regularly – pizza.
My pizza of choice was the Parma which contained prosciutto di Parma, cherry tomatoes, Parmigiano cheese emulsion, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. I think there was also peppercorns in there as well which I could have done without. The pizza was also sprinkled with fresh rosemary which was a nice touch. Funny enough, when I ordered this pizza our waitress asked me if I liked a lot of cheese because this variety is apparently their cheesiest – and they were not kidding. The pizza itself was absolutely, hands down, the best I have had to-date. The crust was light and airy and really tasted like the real thing. I was almost in disbelief asking my friend if her (gluten-filled crust) looked different. It of course did, and this restaurant takes food allergies very seriously.
The majority of their desserts are also gluten-free but after a few glasses of wine, my rather generously-sized salad and a large pizza, GFM was, gasp, too full for dessert. Not to worry though as I will most definitely be going back very soon – maybe I’ll make it a wine and dessert excursion. You can check out Palà’s menu online but next time you find yourself on the Lower East Side, do yourself a favor and give this place a try.
Palà is located at: 198 Allen Street, New York, New York 10002