Lft to Rt Manager John Saloman with owner Vincent Barbieri
Café Formaggio, Offering fine Italian Cuisine, with an outstanding gluten-free menu.
307 Old Country Road, Carle Place, NY 11514
(516) 333-1718 cafeformaggio.com
When it comes to dining out for a special occasion I think, “Café Formaggio.” This is a go to restaurant for me for so many reasons- from; perfect service, a lovely atmosphere, helpful management, delicious food, but most of all I enjoy a safe, tremendous gluten-free menu, that gives me everything from bread, appetizers, salads, pastas, entrees and desserts. A matter of fact almost every option on their regular menu is available gluten-free.
Their gluten-free menu started about 8 years ago when one of their hostesses had been diagnosed with celiac disease and she was looking for some gluten-free options. So to provide her some selections to choose from they first started offering some gluten-free pasta on their menus, and then some chicken dishes. As it turned out, many of their customers also were looking for gluten-free foods as well.
Since there was such a tremendous demand they started to explore expanding their menu, and even started buying gluten-free flours and such in bulk which their distributors brought in especially for them. In addition they searched out specialty products such as the gluten-free crust that they now use for pizza, breads and desserts and their famous gluten-free Nutella pie.
Additional items that were requested included; fried calamari, zucchini sticks, and rice balls which they started preparing in a small fryer and then immediately found that they needed a much greater capacity.
Since their menu includes both gluten-free and gluten containing choices it took some thought to develop a safe plan to prevent cross contamination. Today, however they now have a dedicated 8’ set-up for preparing gluten-free foods with separate hood and fryer, which provides safe gluten-free options in bulk. Customers requesting gluten-free foods do not have a delay in receiving their orders, the efficient work station helps staff to quickly prepare safe gluten-free options. In addition they wanted to provide peace of mind for their customers so they now have added gluten-free stickers on all gluten-free options at service.
Today about 10-15 % of their total customers are gluten-free, and 30-40% of all tables have at least one gluten-free customer.
Making a commitment to this type of expansion only happens when management and staff work together to come up with a method to provide safe, tasty selections. I would like to introduce you to their owner Vincent Barbieri and his wife of 30 years Olivia (who he calls Liv) and his loyal staff. When it comes to running their restaurant his wife knows how to take care of the people, and Vinnie watches the food and tables. They especially are there during the busiest times such as the weekends to help manage the restaurant efficiently. Their staff works well together and they have been together for many years understanding and continuing the philosophy of taking care of their customers first.
This type of service and commitment takes time to perfect. Vinnie started with his first establishment 32 years ago at a gourmet food store “Eastern Meat Farms” in Franklin Square, NY which he still owns today. Throughout the years he expanded his interests and today he is also part owner of other locations which include some gluten-free options such as; Ginos in Northport and Crostini in Massapequa.
At Café Formaggio Vinnie together with his managers; Mark Schuck and John Saloman and their terrific head Chef Jesus L Zavala put out some of the best tasting food I have every had.
Try these customer favorite selections:
Vinnie stands by the following motto: “To buy the best of everything. Were an Italian Restaurant First and Quality is our #1 Priority. My goal is always to improve quality. All I want is to be the best I can be-but that’s just me.”
Enjoy a recipe of one of their new options a gluten-free gourmet stuffed artichoke.
Café Formaggio’s Gluten-Free Stuffed Artichokes
4 large artichokes
16 oz. plain gluten free bread crumbs
¼ cup olive oil
8 oz. pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
2 teaspoons fresh chopped garlic
2 teaspoons gluten free chicken base
- Wash artichokes in water by opening up from middle and allowing water to clean inner leaves. Place on paper towel upside down to allow water to drain off.
- Cut the stem off the bottom of artichoke and using a scissor cut off sharp tips of leaves and pull off outer leaves.
- Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, pepper, parsley and ½ the olive oil and mixed together.
- Open artichokes with your fingers, allowing you to stuff them with the breadcrumb mixture by holding over the bowl with mixture and pressing in breadcrumb mixture trying to fill each leave evenly.
- Place artichokes stem side down in a pot. Fill pot with water covering artichokes about half way up. Add chicken base. Use remaining olive oil to sprinkle over tops of artichokes.
- Cover pot and bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer artichokes for about an hour or until leaves are tender.
- Remove from heat and serve.
- Served over a garlic, tomato broth for dipping.
When you stop by make sure you save some room to enjoy some of their new gluten-free desserts such as cheesecake, pecan pie, and crumb cake.