By Jean Miersch
Had someone called the Stone Harbor Chamber of Commerce two years ago looking for restaurants serving gluten-free foods, I’d have done a quick Google search so as not to appear ill-informed. Not anymore. Today most people are aware that gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and malts that is used as a food additive for flavoring, or thickening foods, and an increasing number of people every day are being diagnosed with a sensitivity to it. Now, with a plethora of information available about Celiac Disease and other wheat-related ailments, almost everyone knows someone following a gluten-free diet. Fortunately, restaurants are listening to the frequent requests for these foods, and Avalon and Stone Harbor have eagerly jumped on board. Providing wheat-challenged 7 Mile Beach vacationers with a bountiful list of eateries offering gluten-free food options is now a piece of cake – and they can have that GF too!
Jay’s on Third (9836 Third Ave., Stone Harbor 609.368.1000 www.jaysonthird.com) is one of the first to hop on the GF bandwagon. Owner/Chef Jason Hippen, no stranger to GF food preparation offers a menu that is about 60% gluten free. The Beet Salad and the GF soy and Asian sauces in two of Jay’s favorite entrees, Pad Thai with Rice Noodles and the Local Scallops with Corn and Asparagus Risotto, are excellent choices. Additionally, while dessert is normally a challenge for the GF crowd, Jay’s Pannacotta, a flour-free creamy chilled custard, makes enjoying a complete delicious GF meal at Jay’s no problem at all.
Quahogs (206 97th St., Stone Harbor 609.368.6300 www.quahogsshack.com) has answered the call for gluten-free selections quite easily, as well. According to General Manager Federico Fusco, Quahogs has two or three requests daily for gluten-free meals and has responded with a GF marked menu. At least 30% of the entrees are labeled GF. In fact, two of Quahogs most popular dishes, Moqueca, a Brazilian fisherman’s stew featured last season on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and the Clam Bake are always GF. If, on the other hand, fish and seafood is not the evening’s dinner choice, Quahogs easily accommodates the meat eater with a GF Skirt Steak entrée selection as well.
Whitebrier Restaurant (269 20th St., Avalon 609.967.0208 www.whitebrierbar.com) is an excellent choice for diners looking for gluten-free choices in a fun seashore atmosphere. According to General Manager John Tracy, requests for GF foods are increasing, and the Whitebrier has complied by providing several menu choices. Begin with the tasty Shore-time Summer Salad, which includes grapes, mandarin orange slices, berries, candied walnuts, bleu cheese and a citrus vinaigrette. For an entrée, choose Bourbon Teriyaki Salmon, a frequent entrée special prepared gluten free or Seared Tuna topped with Lump Crabmeat with Bernaise Sauce (yes, GF). Of course, one of the most popular menu items at the Whitebrier, Sushimi from the Sushi Bar, is always gluten-free!
Fred’s Tavern (314 96th St. Stone Harbor 609.368.5591 www.fredstavernstoneharbor.com) and Fred’s Avalon Liquors (2258 Dune Drive, Avalon 609.967.4121) is now happily accommodating the gluten-free vacationer with food and beverage selections. Due to increasing requests for GF foods, Chef Joe Sparta has created menu selections that have become fan-favorites. The popular Asian Lettuce Wraps – Iceberg cups with Asian chicken and fixins - and the Strawberry Salad are both gluten-free. The GF crowd gets thirsty, too and Fred’s Tavern owners Tom and Jim Hand credit the increasing interest in GF beverages for the now plentiful selection of gluten-free beers. Redbridge, Green’s from Belgium, and many varieties of Bard’s beers are all GF and available in Fred’s Tavern in Stone Harbor. Redbridge and naturally GF Woodchuck Hard Cider are available in the Avalon liquor store with others coming soon – cheers!
Henny’s Seafood Takeout ( 82nd St. & Third Ave. 609.368.TOGO www.hennysstoneharbor.com) is a good choice for a delicious takeout gluten-free dinner. According to owner Gary Blum, requests for gluten-free foods is ever-increasing and several of Henny’s fresh fish menu choices can be gluten-free. The swordfish, salmon, or tuna paired with baked potato, cole slaw, and Henny’s famous stewed tomatoes – thickened with cornstarch rather than flour- can satisfy the hungriest GF diner.
Peace A Pizza (9709 Third Ave. Stone Harbor 609.368.3990 www.peaceapizza.com) Pizza is perhaps the most lamented forbidden food in the gluten-free diet and has long been considered totally off-limits – but no more! Stone Harbor Peace A Pizza manager Seth Milman proudly proclaims that, after months of trial and error with more than 20 different dough recipes, a truly delicious pizza crust has been developed, and the GF life has just become better! Milman explains that 5-10% of their pizza sold is now gluten-free, and according to shift supervisor Taylor Reck, about 1 in 5 large multi-pizza orders include a gluten-free pie. In fact, Reck said the crust on the 12” GF pizza is so popular that some customers without gluten intolerance are ordering it, too. The typical myriad of toppings, except for the breaded eggplant, can also be safely added to this long-awaited GF delight.
Sweet Nectar Cupcakery (9821 Third Ave., Stone Harbor 609.961.3159 www.sweetnectarcupcakery.com), a favorite new addition to 7 Mile Beach this year, makes GF snacking easy. Sweet Nectar offers a fruity, sweet gluten-free apple cupcake every day. This moist apple cake, flavored with real apple and topped with fluffy cream cheese icing can satisfy anyone, gluten-free or not.
Bonnie’s Toppings Self Surf Frozen Yogurt (9410 Second Ave., Stone Harbor and 2166 Dune Drive, Avalon www.bonniestoppings.com) in Avalon and Stone Harbor is the place to go for a healthy, delicious GF frozen dessert. Clearly indicated GF frozen yogurt flavors along with an array of GF toppings makes Bonnie’s Toppings a must-stop GF vacation destination.
So fear not; being gluten-free does not mean foregoing the many delights of dining, sipping and snacking while on 7 Mile Island. GF choices abound here, and the list is ever-expanding!