Safety for allergen-sensitive customers a priority at Harry & Izzy’s in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana

Harry & Izzy's, Indianapolis, Indiana

Harry & Izzy’s, Indianapolis, Indiana

Restaurant: Harry & Izzy’s, Indianapolis, Indiana

Twas the night before the Santa Hustle Half Marathon and all through the city, this runner’s stomach was rumbling…and that meant one thing…gluten-free pizza.

It’s a race tradition for me these days. I tend to run better in races the day after I eat a gluten-free pizza dinner. Hey…I’m an athlete with superstitions now. And for me…the night before races means I have to eat gluten-free pizza (or gluten-free pizza related). The one time I didn’t eat something pizza related, I felt like death at the end of the race (granted, that might have been the 90% humidity that I ran in, but still…)

So, with that in mind, my roommate went on the hunt for places in downtown Indianapolis that offered gluten-free pizza that wouldn’t be too difficult to get to from our hotel. Just up the way was Harry & Izzy’s, who actually have a gluten-free menu…with, yes, gluten-free pizza on the menu.

Harry & Izzy’s is an independent, upscale American Grill with two locations: downtown and at the Indianapolis International Airport. It is actually the sister restaurant to the famous St. Elmo Steak House, which means they share a few classic dishes. Some of which are even on the gluten-free menu.

However…the added difficulty with me is that I’m also a vegetarian. So, with the exception of one of the salads, I was pretty much limited to the pizza anyway. But…I’m okay with that. The pizza was the entire reason I was there to begin with.

Dinner tonight was being shared with Cathy (the roomie) and our friend Greg. Once we were finally seated (they were changing over the tables from lunch to dinner, so it took our hostess three tries to get us to a table that was ready for us), we were handed menus and asked if we were going to want something other than ice water to drink. As I am running tomorrow, I stayed with the water. So did Cathy. We also went ahead and gave our waitress the heads up that I am medically gluten-free. She said she would go grab a gluten-free menu for me and that when she takes my order, the manager would come up and talk to me and ask if I had any questions with the menu. I actually loved that.

Greg arrived soon after and we settled into conversation as we had much to catch up on. Our waitress returned with the manager, Amy, who directed her focus right on me to talk to me about their gluten-free options. She asked if I had any specific questions regarding the menu. At that point, I didn’t. So she said our waitress would now take our order and if I had any concerns, to just ask for her. What a great perk. It really put my mind to ease about how the food was prepared on the gluten-free menu when the manager makes a point to come out and talk to me about it. Yeah, I felt confident. I was ready for some pizza.

So…we placed our orders. Greg went with the Steakburger, a burger served with cheese (he had them leave that off), lettuce, tomato, onion, and a spicy mayo ($12.00). He chose the coleslaw as his side item.

Harry & Izzy's Gluten-Free Thin Crust Pizza (topped with cheese, caramelized onion, and mushrooms)

Harry & Izzy’s Gluten-Free Thin Crust Pizza (topped with cheese, caramelized onion, and mushrooms)

Cathy and I decided that we would split the 10-inch gluten-free thin crust pizza on the menu. For our toppings, we chose cheese, mushrooms, and caramelized onions ($12.00). The plain cheese pizza normally runs $10, but each additional topping is $1 each. That is an awesome price for a gluten-free pizza, let me tell you!

Our waitress went to go put in order and for the time being, we got caught up on eveything that has been keeping our lives so busy as of late. It had been awhile since we last got together with Greg and we had much to talk about. As our food was nearing time to come out, I noticed our waitress grab a couple of plates for my roommate and I. She specifically wiped them off and placed them in front of us. I appreciated that too, as it means they are very aware of the dangers of cross-contamination and were taking no chances.

A few minutes later, our waitress was climbing the stairs with a tray laden with our food. The burger was set down in front of Greg and Cathy and I were given the pizza. Our waitress aid that the Parmesan cheese might have something in it to keep it fresher longer that might be gluten-free, but I prefer red pepper flakes on my pizza anyway…so my roommate got the fresh Parmesan and I took the red pepper flakes. I appreciated my waitress mentioning the possibility that the cheese wasn’t safe. That is often the case when it comes to Parmesan at restaurants anyway…so I normally just skip it regardless. I prefer a little added spice to my pizza regardless and always opt for the red pepper in the end.

The pizza was sliced so that Cathy and I would each get three slices. And let me tell you…this pizza was really delicious. It is brick oven baked, and that is evident from the crispness of the outer crust of the pizza. I did find the inner crust to be softer than I would normally like…but when you can’t bake a pizza on a pizza stone, that crispiness is sometimes very hard to achieve. That being said…I was impressed. With the first bite, the complete flavors of the sauce, the cheese, the mushrooms, and the perfectly caramelized onions all came together on my palate and it was just…yummy. Super, duper, delicious yummy! I don’t think the crust is actually made by Harry & Izzy’s…but the fact is they cook it up fantastically. And my roommate and I devoured each bite. Each slice was completely downed and enjoyed thoroughly.

And, yes, even after that…we left a little room for dessert. The waitress asked if I was feeling the Créme Brûlée…but it was the Sorbet that caught my attention. I love ice cream and frozen goodies…so the sorbet sounded like the perfect palate cleanser and way to end the meal. I was given a choice: lemon or raspberry. I decided on the Lemon Sorbet ($3.50). Cathy and Greg decided they would split the Signature Brownie ($8.00) from the homemade dessert menu. I couldn’t enjoy that chocolate goodness due to the brownie, but the dessert consisted of a homemade brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce and candied pecans.

Harry & Izzy's Signature Brownie (NOT GLUTEN-FREE)

Harry & Izzy’s Signature Brownie (NOT GLUTEN-FREE)

Our desserts arrived. I had two amazing scoops of delightful, light, pleasing lemon sorbet. I loved how it wasn’t too sweet or sour. It was the perfect level of each for lemon sorbet. My problem with sorbets normally is that they can be too sweet. So after a few bites, I’m done and craving something to counterbalance the sweetness. This wasn’t the case with this sorbet. It was balanced and refreshing. And it was just what I needed at the end of my meal.

The Signature Brownie was this tower of dessert awesomeness. It was definitely meant to split. Cathy and Greg managed, between them, to devour it completely. But it was a near thing. Cathy raved about the brownie base, saying that you could tell that it was freshly made. It died a very messy death between the two of them. And it looked so good. Now there is something I totally miss since going gluten-free…the amazing dessert sundaes I used to be able to help eat.

To say that I was impressed with the service and the food at Harry & Izzy’s is an understatement. I felt confident that the food I was receiving was safe to eat. They took very, very good care of me and were very careful with the food that I ordered. I have already said that whenever we are in Indianapolis, this had to be our go-to spot for food. There was plenty on the menu that caught Cathy’s eye…so she seems more than happy to go along with that.

Being a Celiac means that the food has to be safely prepared and served. Not every restaurant knows how to do that properly. But with Harry & Izzy’s…I had no concerns about the food I was served and appreciated all the attention given to me and others who have food allergies. I appreciated that the manager personally came out to talk to me and answer any questions I might have about food preparation and the menu in general.

When I feel that safe at a restaurant, of course I’ll want to go back. I’m looking forward to my return sometime in the near future.

Thank you, Harry & Izzy’s for the delicious, safe meal. I can’t rave about you enough. The precautions you take set my mind at ease and made me feel content in my decision to eat there. It means so much to me that you take that sort of care and consideration for those with food allergies.

I will be back. Oh yes…I will be back.

Harry & Izzy's Lemon Sorbet

Harry & Izzy’s Lemon Sorbet

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