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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Restaurant Review - Papa Razzi

As I was saying a few blogs back…

I’ve wanted to eat chicken parm for a while…I hadn’t had it since I went gluten free.  Cathy and I had to be in Burlington yesterday, so I checked the Gluten Free Registry and I found two places where I thought I could get some chicken parm.  After looking at Yelp, we decided on Papa Razzi.

Papa Razzi is a small chain that is mostly in Massachusetts, but has a location in Rhode Island, a couple in New Jersey, one in New York and one in DC.  I hadn’t been there for many years, and I remembered it to be good.  Not great…I mean, Mario Batali has nothing to worry about.  So after spending an hour or so at the ridiculously crowded mall, off we went to Papa Razzi.

I had made a reservation earlier in the day, and told them that there was a person who was gluten free.  When we walked in the door and gave them my name, the hostess said, “Oh, and there is a gluten free member of your party?  Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.”  Good start.

Unfortunately, they didn’t tell our waitress who brought over bread and put it in front of me.  I pushed the plate to Cathy and told our waitress I was gluten free.  She apologized and gave us the drink menu.

A few minutes later, the manager came over with a plate of gluten free bread.  Awesome!

We ordered drinks, and I ordered something called Blueberry Lemonade.  A few minutes later, our waitress came over and said I couldn’t have that, because the blueberry vodka they use was not gluten free.  That is something I tend to forget, so I thought that it was great they were so attentive.  They offered me some alternatives, but I chose to stick with water.

They do not have a gluten free menu, but they do have gluten free pasta, and can accommodate nearly everything on the menu.  I ordered the chicken parm.  Our waitress said no problem, the chicken just would not have breadcrumbs on it.  I suppose this is because if they put it in the deep fryer to cook, they don’t have a dedicated fryer.  Too bad, because the bread I was served was delicious, and they could have used that bread for the breadcrumbs.

Our waitress came back about 15 minutes later or so, with my wife’s meal.  The manager accompanied her and put my meal in front of me and announced, “Gluten free chicken parm.”

It was quite good.  I mean, Lidia Bastianich has nothing to worry about.  But the sauce was flavorful without being over bearing.  The cheese covering the chicken was just the right amount.  Not so much that it was gooey, not so little that it seemed like it wasn’t there.  I did miss the breadcrumbs though, because that gives some texture to the meal that I missed. 

As for the pasta, it was penne, and well cooked.  Perfectly Al Dente.  They give you a ton of pasta and I did notice that as it began to get cold, it kind of…crumbled.  I thought that was a little weird.

It was one of my few ventures with Italian food since I went gluten free and with more and more Italian restaurants in the North End now serving gluten free pasta, I expect there will be more Italian restaurant reviews.  That being said, I thought that overall, Papa Razzi did a pretty good job.  They certainly took care of me from a gluten free point of view, and we left a generous tip reflecting that.  So I would definitely go back.  But I don’t think Michael Chiarello has anything to worry about.

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