We Are What We Eat

The Daily Meal has recently published two of my new articles about nutrition.

One is about our work snacks–and are they making us sleepy? To read more, click HERE.

The other delves into the worst dieting myths and tells you exactly why they aren’t helping you lose weight. To read more, click HERE.

We want to hear from you! What are your worst dieting stories? What foods do you eat that make you sleepy? What are foods that keep you awake?

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Pasta on MSN.com

Hi all, Pasta was recently featured on MSN.com for her article on What European Women Drink to Stay Slim. It was originally published HERE in the Daily Meal.


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Acanto: Where Tradition Meets Innovation

By Kristen Oliveri

It has been said that when royalty goes to Milan, they dine in Acanto Restaurant located within the Hotel Principe de Savoy. It’s no surprise why. This classic Italian fine dining establishment is one filled with romance and elegance, designed by Celeste Dell’Anna Design. The restaurant overlooks the garden with a beautiful waterfall that is peaceful and in the warmer months of the year, the doors are open and guests can dine in the garden.

I had explained prior to my arrival at Acanto that I have a gluten allergy and the restaurant was more than accommodating. My dining companion and I began our meal with a glass of champagne along with gluten-free bread and crackers before setting out on our journey to sample the regional culinary treasures of Lombardy.

The sommelier was able to pick out a fantastic local Italian wine to pair with our meal after we ordered. The wine cellar boasts an extensive collection (roughly 600 bottles) of both Italian and French wine, among others like Austrian and Californian varietals.

For the first course, I tried an interesting creation dreamt up by Executive Head Chef Fabrizio Cadei. I sampled the vegetable garden with ricotta and my companion tried the beef tartare. The vegetable garden was light and creamy and a well-balanced seasonal dish, which I only wishes I was eating outside. While it was too chilly to dine outside, the cuisine radiated inner warmth that carried on throughout the evening.

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For our second course, we tried light gluten-free pasta with zucchini ribbon in a delicate broth sauce with olive oil and butter that was outstanding. It had that beautiful simplicity that I can only find in pasta dishes in Italy. It was crafted using only a few seasonal ingredients that came together perfectly.

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I’m a big believer in keeping food simple. When I was informed by our server that the signature dish at Acanto is the roast suckling pig, I knew I didn’t have to search any further. It came out piping hot and the crispy skin was flawlessly seasoned. While one could argue I was stuffed before the main course, I couldn’t put my fork down once the dish had made its grand entrance.

What may wow many with a sweet tooth is the restaurant’s elaborate dessert trolley. While I happen to be much more of a savory than sweet person, I couldn’t resist a little something to finish my meal. A bowl of berries with a touch of cream on top was about all I could handle.

The service was top-notch, which one would expect from a restaurant of this caliber. But what I particularly enjoyed was that it didn’t feel over-the-top, as if the waiters were anticipating your every move. Rather, it felt reactive and quite natural. When we needed something, it was simply taken care of.

Our meal was the perfect balance between traditional Italian cuisine, coupled with inventive modern dishes. And word around the culinary street is that Acanto serves up a stellar weekend brunch. It’ll perhaps be on my itinerary for my next trip to Milan.




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Staten Island’s Pier 76 serves up classic Italian comfort food

It’s true that the Island of Manhattan has boundless restaurants, cafés and eatery options. But any smart New Yorker knows that to get the best ethnic food, you must head to the outer boroughs.

Some venture to Queens for Greek and Indian food or to the Bronx for Italian cuisine on Arthur Avenue, and Brooklyn is fast becoming a borough brimming with boundless culinary options. However, a lesser known food destination is my hometown of Staten Island that I (and many other natives) affectionately refer to as “the rock.” If you want great Italian food and even better pizza, it’s worth taking the Staten Island ferry to arrive at Pier 76.

My own humble restaurant beginnings began by serving up savory pizzas at Joe and Pat’s Pizzeria, one of the best casual-Italian restaurants in the city, in my opinion. I worked all throughout high school and college there, making extra money while earning a deep appreciation for the art of pizza making and the restaurant industry in general.

During my tenure at Joe and Pat’s, I became friends with one of the owners’ son and fellow pizza aficionado, Jeremy Pappalardo. We spent years working together and developed a wonderful friendship. In 2010, Jeremy and his business partner, Joe Guastavino, opened Pier 76 right down by the ferry in the St. George area of Staten Island.

The duo couldn’t have picked a better location for its budding pizza business. Within the last few years, St. George has skyrocketed in popularity. Their restaurant is in walking distance from the Staten Island Yankees stadium (where fans can get a slice or a calzone from Pier 76 while taking in a game) and it’ll soon become the home of the Staten Island Ferris Wheel (similar to the London Eye) and a sensational 500,000-square-foot outlet mall.

While location is arguably everything, what’s really paramount is the food. Pier 76’s pizza is reminiscent of the pizza I grew up with at Joe and Pat’s. Its thin crust is still sturdy and addictive and makes it quite easy to scarf down a few slices without even feeling a trace of fullness. The pizza is a must if you swing by, but there are many other dishes you should stay for like the eggplant fries,  the lobster mac n cheese, or Jeremy’s favorite, the fiocchi and pear pasta.

What I also greatly appreciate about the menu at Pier 76 is its gluten-free options. For those who suffer from gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, like I do, you will feel completely at ease and quite happy when dining here. My absolute favorite is the gluten-free vodka pie. I am a big fan of Jeremy’s flavorful vodka sauce, so if you opt for another pizza topping (might I suggest broccoli rabe and sausage) then try it on the gluten-free pasta that they also carry. A close second for me would be the gluten-free pasta with grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.


Before or after your meal, be sure to grab a drink or two at the bar. It’s very much a local Staten Island crowd that gathers together to watch sports and throw back a few pints after a long day. I recently dropped by Pier 76 after the Five Borough Bike race and found locals mixing with excited tourists. They were able to brave the many physical roadblocks put in place by the city that might have otherwise stopped them from making their way in through the front door.

Regardless–they were there and I was there–all in the name of good pizza and a cold drink, where everyone, not just me, feels like family.



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San Fran Food Tour

A recent business trip took me to one of my favorite cities, San Francisco. I had the pleasure of visiting a new spot, Livermore, California and spending time at the Concannon Vineyard. After I tasted some phenomenal wines, I went back to the city to visit with a few friends. We stopped by Michael Chiarello’s Coqueta down by the ferry building and then to E&O Kitchen the following day. I even had time in between meals to make it out to Sausalito to have a couple of drinks at Bar Bocce and take in some afternoon sun.

Here are a few photos to commemorate the quick West Coast trip:

2014-05-22 14.12.05Enjoying the Golden Gate bridge. Quick photo op!


2014-05-21 18.33.22Sitting down for a tapas-style meal at Coqueta


2014-05-21 18.18.06Coqueta’s sunny side up huevo (Gluten-free!)

2014-05-21 17.50.26My tapas favorite, Patatas Bravas

2014-05-21 17.50.02 The Pluma- Pork Shoulder 2014-05-21 17.44.18Calamares a la Plancha

Be sure to stay tuned for a full review of E&O Kitchen. 

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Pasta’s Kitchen’s G-Free Guide for Celiac Awareness Month: Best Dishes to try in NYC

Below is a list of some of my favorite gluten-free dishes to try in New York City. From everything to crepes to pizza to ceviche and everything in between, try eating your way through the list. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

**Please note, these are suggestions for dishes to try in specific restaurants. Depending on your sensitivity you should check with a doctor before consuming anything.

At Bo’s Kitchen & Bar Room Chef Todd Mitgang (also of Crave Fishbar) didn’t intend to create gluten-free dishes – it just sort of happened thanks to his preference for ingredients like cornstarch and pea flour, as well as for vegetable-heavy dishes. Two of the most surprising gluten-free options on the menu are the Fried Alligator, featuring pieces of tail meat breaded in cornstarch and served in a basket with chili aioli and fried red bell pepper pieces. The coating is crunchy and salty, while the meat tastes like a mix of chicken and shrimp – the perfect bar snack. Mitgang’s Catfish entree is also gluten-free, as he fries it in pea flour and serves it with Shrimp Americaine sauce, crawfish, potatoes, cranberry beans and caramelized endive.

If you love fresh seafood and ceviche, here are a few must-try suggestions. Chef and restaurateur, Richard Sandoval, of Midtown’s Pampano Upper East Side’s Maya and Zengo has a plentiful variety of ceviches and appetizers that are gluten-free. Go for a ceviche trio at Pampano including Camaron – shrimp, habanero, cilantro, and red onions. At Maya, try gluten-free starters like Tuna Tartare with wontons and Crab and Chipotle Dip.  The Asian-inspired menu at Zengo offers gluten-free ceviches such as Bay Scallops with Thai Chile, Fluke with Coconut, and Hamachi with Shiso.

To satisfy any bread craving you might have, head to the legendary Bouley. Chef David Bouley was recently the host for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness at Bouley’s test kitchen, where he  developed his own recipe for a luxe take on gluten-free bread. The result of extensive taste testing is an excellent gluten-free product, texture and flavor-wise, with nourishing ingredients such as flax seeds and buckwheat.

For gluten-free Italian food look no further than Rubirosa on Mulberry Street. They have a dedicated gluten-free menu with items like pizza, pasta and meatballs (all gluten-free). My favorites happen to be the fried calamari and zucchini (all coated in cornstarch), rice balls and the chicken parmigiano entrée with corn pasta. As for the pizza (their specialty), try the gluten-free vodka pie.

PAGE@63 MAIN ST. in Sag Harbor, NY, believes in all things natural and healthy. The restaurant recently expanded to include a rooftop aquaponic garden atop the restaurant, combining aquafarming and hydroponics to grow organic greens and vegetables. Gluten-free menu options include the Grilled Portabello Mushroom and Quinoa Salad, Organic Quinoa Linguine with cherry tomatoes, pignoli, and fresh herbs, and Pan-Seared Diver Scallops with Satur Farms spring pea shoots and organic red quinoa.

If you find yourself in the theatre district, be sure to try Nizza that has an entire gluten-free menu. But the thing you must absolutely try is its socca, a crepe that is made with 100% chickpea flour and topped very similarly to a pizza. Order a few varieties before settling on a favorite,

Another place you must try for Socca is 1200 Miles. Chef Blake Schumpert prepares it on his Flatiron Express lunch menu. The crêpe is made with 100% chickpea flour and filled with spring vegetables, topped with vaudovan spice and accompanied with tahini yogurt.

For a sweet take on a traditional crêpe, Eight Turn Crêpe in SoHo specializes in Japanese Crêpes, made-to-order quickly and presented as a handheld meal in tear-away sleeves that are shaped like ice cream cones. The crepes are made with rice flour. Standout crepes include the Shrimp and Avocado with Thai chili sauce, a Truffled Egg White Omelet Crêpe, and a Green Tea gelato crepe with Azuki berries.

And while we’re talking about the sweeter side of things, Belgian bakery O Merveilleux specializes in the Belgian confection, the merveilleux. It’s a light and fluffy meringue base coated with airy fresh whipped cream and topped with another meringue, more whipped cream and shavings of smooth rich dark or white chocolate.  Delicious, festive, and gluten-free, prepared by owner Anne-Sophie Diotallevi. Merveilleux flavors include Green Tea and Pistachio, Speculoos, and White Chocolate.

What’s your favorite gluten-free dish in New York City? Email me at kris.oliveri@gmail.com and happy to include other suggestions!


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Restaurant Review: Michael Anthony’s, Hilton Head Island

I ventured to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for my most recent review for the Daily Meal.

Michael Anthony’s is an Italian restaurant that wowed on the Island that had many gluten-free options for hungry travelers.

Philadelphia native Tony Fazzini, along with his wife Becky and their niece Jill Boyd, opened Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana in January of 2002 on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. It’s not an intuitive place for an Italian restaurant to hold out a shingle, but it works beautifully nonetheless.”




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