When avoiding gluten, it's generally easier to just ignore Italian restaurants altogether.
Now, believe me - it's not that I want to but generally I can't take the heartache of watching whoever's across the table from me tuck into a pizza or a hefty bowl of creamy pasta, as I pick at whatever meagre gluten free offerings they have.
In recent years however, Dublin has gotten a lot better in terms of gluten free dishes, with some restaurants even having separate menus. So we decided to give Manifesto, an Italian restaurant in Rathmines, a try.
Niall wrote about Manifesto a few months ago saying it was the best pizza he'd had in Dublin, so needless to say, expectations were high.
We were seated right beside the pizza oven in the front window so we had a great view of the pizza chef as he was flinging dough around.
At first glance the menu was a bit overwhelming, there were just so many options - but let's be honest, that's a pretty good complaint to have!
At the start of the menu there's a very precise allergen index, which explains the coding which then placed beside the majority of dishes on the menu. It was unbelievable that nearly everything on the menu was either gluten free, or could be modified to suit coeliacs.
Poring over the starters one in particular caught my eye, but I just assumed it havd gluten in it; a beetroot potato dumpling with a light provolone cheese cream, served in a crispy parmesan cheese basket, and topped with char-grilled cajun chicken and rocket oil. The lack of (G) after its name on the menu had me confused though, surely it couldn't be gluten free?
The staff were able to confirm that the dish was made entirely from potato flour and beetroot, so completely safe. Dumbfounded yet intrigued, we ordered that to share and a pizza each as our mains.
When the starter arrived, not only was it presented amazingly but it tasted delicious. There were small pillows of gnocchi-style dough, swimming in a sumptuously rich sauce, accompanied by really tender chicken and the sharp taste of the rocket oil really cut through the heaviness of the cream.
I ordered a glass of house red, and the sizeable bucket of Merlot served as the perfect companion to the beetroot potato dumplings.
When the pizza arrived we both started tucking in immediately, perhaps too quickly in that we didn't take photos of the works of art which lay before us but we obviously had our priorities straight. I had ordered the Cappricciosa which had mozzerella, ham, salami, black olives, mushrooms, artichokes, basil and olive oil on it. The first thing that struck me about it was the heat radiating from the plate, this was quite literally straight from the oven. I'd been a bit worried that my gluten free pizza (additional €2 charge) was going to come from the same oven the normal pizzas were cooked in, but my pizza came from the back kitchen, while others come straight from the oven in front of us - no fear of cross contamination here.
The Cappricciosa was quite simply the greatest gluten free pizza I have ever tasted, it had lashings of tomato sauce and a generous amount of all the toppings, particularly the artichokes. It had a thick enough crust without feeling super stodgy, the salami was massive chunks of juicy chorizo-style sausage - none of this thinly-sliced nonsense, and the olives could not have tasted more authentic and tasty if they tried; these guys were most certainly not from a jar.
My sister ordered the Manifesto pizza, which had a basil pesto base instead of your average tomato sauce. On it there were not one, not two, but three types of cheese - mozzarella, smoked mozzarella and feta cheese. Unbelievable scenes! There was also red onion, cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes, on it with practically a bed of rocket sitting on top.
The staff were both charming and attentive, and the total bill for one starter, two pizzas, and two glasses of house red came to €58. More than worth it for the feed we got.
For any coeliacs out there, or anyone on the gluten free diet looking for somewhere to go on cheat day - you simply have to try out Manifesto. They do authentic and delicious Italian food really well, and the measures they take to provide as many of their dishes as possible gluten free is astounding.
Head down to Manifesto, you'll never touch any other gluten free pizza again!