Friday, May 8, 2009

Food Allergy Restaurant Roundup Part 2--Pizza and More

Before I get into the restaurant round-up, you can read a Q&A by The Nut-Free Mom on the site Food Allergy Assistant today. I really appreciated being featured on this site--it's a great resource written by a mom who has a lot of experience with food allergies so be sure to check it out!

And now, as promised, I've got some more restaurants recommended by blog readers. I thought I'd offer some pizza joints since lots of people with nut allergies rely on pizza (including my family) as a safe go-to food when dining out. The only thing you need to be careful of is "gourmet" pizza since it often contains pine nuts or things like pesto sauce. Keep it simple seems to be the best pizza policy for nut allergies.

I received several nut-free pizza recommendations from readers, so here are the top 4 mentioned: Pizzeria Uno, Papa John's, Aurelio's Pizza and Girodano's. Aurelio's and Giordano's and Pizzeria Uno also have gluten free menus available.

Coincidentally, I just received my latest issue of Living Without magazine and it had a feature story about dining out with food allergies with a sidebar list of restaurants with gluten-free menus. The magazine suggested that a place that offers gluten-free food usually will be able to accommodate other food allergies and sensitivities. Since nuts are often a big part of a gluten-free diet, I'm not sure I agree completely with that, but it's a good sign if a restaurant already anticipates customers with dietary restrictions.

With summer travel in the near future for many families, I also want to mention two kid-friendly restaurants that you will find in Chicago and other big cities as well. Weber Grill Restaurant offers a gluten-free menu and will accommodate nut allergies. Of course, please check each item when you get to the restaurant, but it looks like their menu does not contain a lot of nuts or peanuts. I've heard good things about this restaurant from other nut-allergic diners.

For those of you with young daughters, you won't want to miss American Girl Place Cafe. They go out of their way to accommodate food allergies. In fact, when you call for a reservation, they even ask if you have anyone in the party with allergies. Along the way they will point to each menu item and tell you what's safe and what isn't. We've been there several times and my daughter was in hog heaven. They really treat food-allergic diners well. I know the store can be a hit to the old wallet, but the Cafe is really a treat and the food is generally very good.

Please always ask about ingredients and carry your medications when you visit any restaurant and know that in dining out there are no guarantees. I feel like I have to say that because I don't want anyone letting their guard down! Still, it's very encouraging to see restaurants branching out and trying to satisfy all types of diners. I hope this continues.

Of course, please let us know your stories! Thanks.

6 comments:

Marketing Mama said...

Great to hear about the American Girl Cafe - we have one that opened nearby so I will keep that on our list. When my daughter is a bit older I'm sure she'll love it!

I thought of your restaurant stories last week when I visited a restaurant. It was the first time I used a "chef card" when talking with a waiter and manager. The waiter actually said, "Sometimes I'm suspicious when people say they have food allergies, like maybe they just don't LIKE mushrooms... but this card tells me you are REALLY serious."

Of course I was a annoyed with his skepticism, but glad the chef card gave me credibility with everyone. The manager and the chef both looked at it to create a special meal for us. (by the way, I had called ahead and checked their menu in advance to see if it was even worth visiting.) The food was for me, not my daughter, but since I'm breastfeeding I need to keep the same safe diet. I'm still too nervous to take her to a restaurant.

Jenny said...

Marketing Mama, I'm thrilled to hear about your positive "chef card" experience. Wow, that was an enlightening comment from the waiter. I don't blame him in a way--so many people claim dietary restrictions these days. Just goes to show you that politeness and a chef card go a long way toward making you seem like a serious consumer. And that's half the battle when dining out with FA. Anyone else have a "chef card" tale to share?

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Julie said...

My daughter loved American Girl cafe. She is dairy and peanut allergic and it was a great experience. I have had a lot of luck with a chef card. I think its more credible and helps make sure the chef gets the right info from the waiter.. Another amazing experience is Disney World .. Just amazing... the chef comes to you table and hand cooks and delivers your special meal. They had special desert and soy milk. So amazing my little one got jealous and wanted to have allergy.

Anonymous said...

PizzaSalad, The Organic Choice, is certified and well-trained to safely cater to common food allergies. In addition, we only use USDA certified organic ingredients (unlike the other pizzerias you mention) which means you're also getting the purest, truly highest quality ingredients. Visit pizzasalad.com for more.

Dina Smith said...

Thanks for the restaurant recommendations. We have found Outback Steakhouse to be very accomodating to nut allergies. We drive from Philadelphia to Florida often and we always eat dinner at Outback on the way up and back because we feel it's very safe. Of course we're making the drive to vacation in Disney, which is our safe vacation spot (they're phenomenal with allergies).

Katerine-Lune said...

To all of you parents, Montreal has the first restaurant featuring a completely hypoallergenic menu designed without the top eight allergens that affect most Canadian allergy-sufferers (Fish and seafood, Peanuts, Nuts, Sesame seeds, Milk, Soybeans, Eggs, Wheat or any grain containing gluten). Surprisingly, it’s not boring, bland, granola hippie food and the decor at Zero8 is also really stylish. The owners are really concerned and take the food seriously. Plus, it’s really good!

You can find more info here:
http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/Blogs/Epicurean-Life/Food-Allergies-No-problem-at-Zero8-restaurant