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Gluten Free in AC

Atlantic County Magazine – GACCA Article

Print Date 3.5.2021

By Judy Brenna

Let’s face it. We live in age where most of the populous is diet-centric with whatever is the most current diet trend. The instant an article is published stating a certain food or beverage will help prevent cancer or burn fat faster everyone jumps on the train. Plus, nowadays it’s more commonplace for individuals to live with food sensitivities and allergies. I won’t go into the why of it all ((because science)), we’d be here for hours, plus I’m not a real expert, I only play one on TV. From an anthropological standpoint diet “trends” have been around ever since man discovered the health benefits when he first oops pressed an olive. And since the study of nutrition through scientific research is ever changing and growing, it’s natural for new diets to emerge. Fun fact: a new study just came out last week discounting the theory behind the paleo diet. As it turns out the paleolithic man was likely more a vegetarian than anything else ((forehead smack)) but they’re still researching ancient excrements for more clues.

I’d like to think I am among the health-conscious now ((as those who know me start laughing)), adopting the new hot dietof 2021, the now-popularized version of “Keto,” which we like to call “Keto Lite”, but I will admit, I have “crash days” where all I can think about is eating a bowl of gooey melted cheese topped with a giant loaf of bread, washed down with an enormous chocolate fudge cake. Nonetheless, COVID continues to be one of the key influencers of every single trend, and dietary habits are no exception (the WHO had even posted dietary recommendations when the outbreak first started to help improve your immune system when battling Covid), so, I thought a list of venues was in order. I for one was excited to research this, because the one thing I always fear is the fact that I have to potentially break my diet ((oh darn)) whenever I go out to eat so I likely choose to not go out at all. Then again, I’m a hermit so it could be that and not the diet. One will never know.

While it’s a bit easier for those who are following the Keto diet, as you can adapt to pretty much any restaurant, and same goes for people who are following dairy-free protocols (because you can always say “hold the cheese”), it’s a bit harder for those afflicted with celiac disease or following gluten-free diets, because there is some kind of gluten derivative hidden in almost every spice rub or sauce. It’s extremely frustrating. It’s a very common frustration among Chefs as well when guests constantly send their servers back to the kitchen to ask if their dish can be made gluten free, but these are the times we’re living, so luckily a lot of places and chefs have adapted to the times.

Back Bay BBQ, located at 531 Longport Somers Point Blvd, in Somers Point., is definitely worth a mention. Established in 2009 as a pop up, roadside stand, Back Bay has since grown into the BBQ powerhouse they are today, open every Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am to 9 pm, serving up grill classics like ribs, pulled pork, brisket and jerk chicken, and countless sides like collard greens, slaw and German potato salad, and all of their BBQ sauces are gluten free. A great aspect of Back Bay is if you call in advance, they can customize your order according to your dietary needs. Plus, they’re dog-friendly so you can bring your pooch. How great is that? They also accept wholesale and catering orders. Definitely check them out at

Another option on the list is Carmine’s Italian Restaurant, located in the Tropicana. What I love about Carmine’s, aside from my childhood memories with my Dad, which I shared with all of you last year, is their uber user-friendly menu. They mark every item on their menu that is gluten or dairy free, which is great. I’m a huge visual person, so just like I’m drawn to the advantages of pop-up pictures and words in giant fonts, you can’t really make a mistake here, and if you’re following the Keto diet you would have a field day. Check out their online menu and see for yourself:

And while we’re on the Italian kick, another amazing option for glute-free-folk is Angelo’s Fairmont Tavern on Fairmont Avenue in Atlantic City, serving excellence for more than 80 years. You have a slew of possibilities here, specifically because they have gluten free pasta, and at least 50% of their menu is gluten free, and also… Italian food rocks. From appetizers like their Hot Peppers Marinara or Sauteed Mussels in your choice of Marinara, Fra Diavolo or White sauce to entrees like Sauteed Scallops or Chicken or Veal Pizzaiola (just ask for grilled not breaded) and their coup de grace, gluten free pasta with any sauce, this place is a 10.

Another great place is Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood. Harry’s is the perfect fusion of oyster bar, sports pub and seafood house serving up Atlantic Ocean’s freshest as well as some great land-locked dishes, in a fun and completely relaxed atmosphere, with a spectacular view of the famed Boardwalk. They have their own, separate gluten free menu, which is extensive, offering varying options for the raw seafood lover and ‘traditional eater’ alike. In addition to salads and cooked seafood and meat dishes they have a full raw bar where you can order by the item or as platters. This place is definitely worthy of a visit.

In my experience I have learned to always ask the server the ingredients in everything. For the most part servers are equipped with that knowledge. And if they’re unsure, have them ask the chef. Sure, the chefs may grumble, maybe even throw their hat, kick a garbage can, misdirect their anger at an employee ((loosely resembling a cartoon pressure cooker)), the last thing they’d want is a customer going through an allergic reaction, or worse, like, you know, death. So just ask. I’ve found, for the most part, chefs will gladly omit certain spice rubs or sauces to accommodate so don’t be afraid to sing out, Louise. Continue to support your local Atlantic County restaurants and stay within your diet parameters. It’s a win-win situation. I’m going to go now and day-dream about eating a 10” chocolate fudge cake. Until next week… #stayjerseystrong

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