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Gluten-free dining

Photos by Dan Bishop

May 2014

Mia Famiglia's tiramisu

For celiacs and those who suffer gluten intolerance, dining out used to mean a plain chicken breast or burger ó no bun or bread ó and maybe some plain veggies.

But from 2009 until 2012, the mention of gluten-free on restaurant menus increased a whopping 275 percent, according to global marketing researcher Mintel. The National Restaurant Association listed gluten-free as No. 8 in its top 10 trends in 2013. Locally, a number of restaurants not only take gluten-free requests ó and know how to properly execute them in the kitchen to prevent contamination ó but some go over and beyond what sensitive diners expect.

Mia Famiglia

Five years ago, two of chef Tomas Maglio Whiteís customers asked him if he could make them some gluten-free pasta. "The pasta (these two doctors) brought with them turned out both raw and mushy; I didnít even know that I couldnít cook it in the same water I cooked regular pasta," White recalls.

But that initial request inspired White to do research on what Celiac Disease was and what gluten-free cooking entailed. For two years he perfected gluten-free recipes for pasta, bread and pizza dough until he was satisfied they tasted as good as his regular, all-from-scratch cooking.

Today, Mia Famiglia is the only certified celiac kitchen in Wisconsin, and White is one of only two chefs (chef Cat Cora of "Iron Chef America" is the other) who received an award from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. The entire menu, except for calzones, can be made gluten-free, and White keeps all of his gluten-free flours, pasta equipment and fryer separate from his regular kitchen. His employees also receive special training to prevent contamination. He makes ravioli, tiramisu and gnocchi from scratch ó and gluten-free. "Iím working on a gluten-free cannoli," White says.

1009 W. Forest Home Ave., Hales Corners (414) 425-0507

Cooperís Hawk

When Cooperís Hawk Winery and Restaurant opened its Brookfield location three years ago, it opened with an extensive gluten-free menu. The menu not only includes entrees like Chicken Parmesan, but it also includes bread thatís brought to the table and even a gluten-free brownie dessert.

"This is not a trend ó this is a lifestyle change that is really going to stick," says manager Russ Petrouske. "What we aim with our gluten-free menu is that all of our dishes are just phenomenal dishes that somebody who is not gluten-free can still enjoy."

The minute a server finds out someone is gluten-free, the server or the manager fills out a special form in the kitchen so that thereís no cross-contamination. "As a guest, people do not know this, but we do this internally to make sure itís going out of the kitchen perfect," Petrouske says.

15 S. Moreland Road, Brookfield, (262) 785-9493

Prodigal Gastropub

At Prodigal Gastropub you can get gluten-free Scottish trout for brunch, a gluten-free cheese plate with rice crackers and just about any menu item altered so that it doesnít have gluten or dairy or nuts or whatever a customer requires.

"The whole idea behind the menu is to be open to a lot of people," says executive chef Van Luu. "Itís designed for vegetarians, itís designed for guests who have a sensitivity or an allergy to a lot of different things. Itís the idea of not making anyone feel they canít be part of a dining experience like this."

About 95 percent of Luuís sauces are naturally gluten-free, and if the side that comes with a dish has gluten, it can be easily substituted. "The main thing is when it comes to taking something out, we try to add something back to it so it doesnít look like weíre just giving them a pork sandwich without the bread."

When a gluten-free order comes in, station chefs clean their entire station down before the dish is made. "The biggest thing is sanitation. We wash our hands constantly, especially when it comes to any kind of allergies that are out there."

240 E. Pittsburgh Ave., Milwaukee (414) 223-3030

Industri Cafe

Requests for gluten-free food kept coming in at Industri Cafe, so instead of accommodating his customers request by request, restaurateur Robert Klemm redesigned the menu to take their sensitivities into account.

Last fallís menu revamp includes more gluten-free and vegetarian options, including a meatloaf made with gluten-free bread crumbs, mac ín cheese and gluten-free buns for Industriís famed burgers. "The meatloafís not just for those who canít eat gluten," Klemm says. "Itís an awesome meatloaf that anyone can enjoy."

Klemm not only added the new dishes to his menu, he also hosted a gluten-free cocktail pairing dinner; heís got plans to host more such dinners in the future.

524 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee (414) 224-7777

Gluten-free delivery

If you want to prepare gluten-free meals at home but have been put off by the high cost of some of the ingredients, you can turn to a food service that delivers to your door all of the ingredients and recipes.

Pairdd, created by Casey Lanto and Ryan Konicek, takes recipes from Milwaukee-area gluten-free bloggers and chefs. Offerings have included Grilled Flank Steak and Zucchini with Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits and Buffalo Chicken Mac Ďní Cheese.

"We take the hassle out of gluten-free meal preparation by identifying taste-tested recipes, providing step-by-step instructions for how to prepare delicious gluten-free meals in your own kitchen, and making sure you have the right ingredients by doing the grocery shopping for you," Lanto says.

Each week, features four new meals. Each can be prepared in about 30 minutes Orders placed by midnight Sunday arrive at the customerís door on Tuesday. The service recently expanded statewide via overnight shipping.


This story ran in the April 2014 issue of: