One of my favorite events of the year is about to begin: ThrillerFest, a conference that has been described as “summer camp for thriller readers, fans, writers and industry professionals.” It brings some of my favorite writers to the Grand Hyatt in Midtown Manhattan for four days, starting this Wednesday, July 7th. (The first two days are for CraftFest and AgentFest, targeted at writers who are working on thrillers; Friday and Saturday are for readers and writers alike). Featured authors include Linda Fairstein, Harlan Coben, Tess Gerritsen, Gayle Lynds, Joseph Finder, Sophie Littlefield, Rebecca Cantrell… well, you get the idea. It’s quite a line-up. This year, I’ll be on a panel, too: “How Do You Pack for a Thriller?” â€” about using international settings in your fiction â€” will take place on Friday, July 9th at 11am. (If you weren’t aware of ThrillerFest but want to attend, you can still register for Friday and Saturday.)
One writer who is attending ThrillerFest asked me â€” via Twitter â€” about where to dine gluten-free in New York. This seemed like a perfect time to mention some of my favorite Manhattan spots. If you’re visiting New York this summer, you won’t want to miss these:
Bistango: Almost every item on the menu of this Italian restaurant in Murray Hill can be prepared in a gluten-free version.Â Thereâ€™s plenty of gluten-free pizza and pasta dishes, as well as meatier offerings likeÂ Â rack of lamb.Â What really makes a meal at Bistango stand out is the graciousness of its staff. The owner, Anthony, goes back and forth between the dining room and the kitchen, talking to everyone and making sure that diners are comfortable. This is a gem. [web] www.bistangonyc.com
Rosa Mexicano: My favorite Mexican restaurant in Manhattan now has a separate gluten-free menu. (The gluten-free menus are available at all three of Rosa Mexicanoâ€™s Manhattan locations, though the one at the original First Avenue spot is a little different from the others.) There’s a long list of options, but my favorite main dish is the BudÃn de Pollo, a decadent tortilla pie filled with layers of chicken, peppers, and cheese. There are also amazing â€” and rather strong â€” pomegranate margaritas. [web] www.rosamexicano.com
Risotteria: The bad news is that Risotteria doesnâ€™t do reservations. When the wait gets extremely long, sometimes the waitstaff comes outside with gluten-free breadsticks, guaranteeing that youâ€™ll hang around. The food is stellar, andÂ the many celiac-safe options run the gamut from Caesar salad to mushroom risotto, and from pizza to panini. All of the desserts are gluten-free, and they are divine. [web] www.risotteria.com
There are also two bakeries that I want to mention. Both of them deliver to addresses in the continental U.S., though not all of their products are available this way. If you can, check them out in person:
BabyCakes NYC: This Lower East Side bakery is famous for its organic, vegan, and gluten-free options, but keep in mind that the treats made with spelt are not safe for celiacs or the gluten-intolerant (though they’re a great option for wheat-allergic people). I’m wild about the cupcake tops, but other options include cookie sandwiches, crumb cakes, and banana bread. [web] www.babycakesnyc.com
Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery: Formerly known as Tully’s, this East Village bakery is entirely gluten-free. I’m hopelessly addicted to their brownies, which are the best I’ve had in a long time. There are also cupcakes and a variety of cookies, including oatmeal, cranberry, and classic chocolate chip. [web] www.tu-lusbakery.com
Have a great time. Gluten free folks at Thrillerfest..and elsewhere.. will love your recommendations!
Risotteria has recently (in the last 3 months or so) come out with a gluten free ciabatta roll that is amazingly delicious and airy, if a bit on the expensive side. I use it for grilled cheese sandwiches for my gf 6 year old daughter. They hold up pretty well in shipping and can be frozen. Their black and whites are also excellent.