After 10 years in business and a major renovation, the biggest news about Tempo might simply be the Waltham restaurant’s standing as one of the most celiac-friendly eateries in the area. Given the demand for gluten-free dining, there were two choices: “Either run from it or embrace it,” says general manager Erin Barnicle. “We chose to embrace it.”
Because chef/owner Nathan Sigel oversees an all-scratch kitchen, it’s easy to determine if any ingredient adds gluten to a dish. Many who go gluten-free, Sigel says, are under the mistaken impression that they can’t consume vinegar. But that’s only because it’s often thickened with flour. At Tempo, however, dressings and sauces are free of such taboo thickeners. Most of the menu—including pasta dishes—can be prepared to accommodate gluten-free diets. Best of all, there’s a dedicated gluten-free fryer in the kitchen. A nightly special of fried Duxbury oysters boasts a housemade gluten-free batter that’s as crisp and light as the real thing; they’re served hot and juicy atop dabs of cherry pepper aioli. Elsewhere on the menu, seared Scottish salmon tops creamy potatoes, melted leeks, wild mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, wilted kale and a hint of white truffle oil, and a thick hanger steak, rubbed with coffee and mesquite, is anointed with bourbon cream. And desserts are hardly an afterthought: Pastry chef Jennifer Renaud’s background includes a stint at L’Espalier. Her experience shines in a ricotta cheesecake with a nut crust and citrus caramel sauce.
Winter is meatball season. If you’re ready to look beyond the tomato sauce and spaghetti iteration, check out Global Meatballs by Salem author Adeline Myers. Although a majority of the recipes are meat-based, and most are fried, there are plenty of globally sourced alternatives. Consider red lentil and bulgur kufteh in lettuce leaves, Russian potato ball and milk soup and Caribbean fish and yucca dumplings with callaloo.