Northshore Magazine

November 2014

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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Page 161 of 259

"We made actual, real pasta but it hap- pened to be gluten free," he says. "I feel like it finally does taste just like real pasta." For decades, people with dietary re- strictions were relegated to second-class dining status, their dishes treated as mere afterthoughts to the "real" meals. Anyone who's ever requested the vegetarian op- tion for a wedding or international flight has no doubt been punished with a plate of limp pasta accompanied by a sad stir-fry of whatever veggies happened to be hanging around the kitchen. But as more diners adopt alternative diets—ranging from vegan to Paleo to gluten free—restaurants are responding with dishes that are about more than what's not in them. That's true here on the North Shore, too, where hav- ing a gluten-free, meat-free, dairy-free, or Food ne 160 November 2014 any other kind of alternative diet doesn't result in dining-out deprivation. Instead, area chefs are meeting their customers' needs and wants with creative cuisine that stands on its own delicious merits. Like Bettencourt, Mark McDonough, CEO of Serenitee Restaurant Group, and Serenitee's executive chef, Jeff Cala, aren't satisfied with the status quo when it comes to alternative dining options. That's why they've spent the summer de- veloping a veggie burger that's worthy of its place alongside the burgers at Seren- itee Restaurant Group locales like Opus, Latitude 43, and 15 Walnut. "This is about hospitality," McDon- ough says. "The hospitality ethic is to create great experiences." With that in mind, every item that's Crave Worthy The coveted crispy coconut curry from Opus is a hit with restricted diners and omnivores alike. vegetarian or gluten free—or can be made that way—is clearly marked on the menus at Serenitee Restaurant Group's estab- lishments. As McDonough and Betten- court both note, diners with dietary restrictions want ordering their meals to be easy; they don't want to make a fuss or have a dinnertime spotlight put on them because of what they can't eat. And also like Bettencourt, McDonough isn't satisfied with subpar or boring offer- ings—instead, vegetarian and gluten-free menu items are created with the same, nuanced respect and high-quality ingre- dients as everything else on the menu. Opus, in Salem, for instance, offers dishes like the vegan-friendly and much-clamor- ed-for crispy tofu coconut curry, as well as several vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free

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