Fresh First brings gluten-free eats to Fort Lauderdale

A mother-daughter team has opened what they bill as South Florida’s only 100 percent gluten-free eatery. Set in an elegant yet earthy space in Fort Lauderdale’s yachting district, Fresh First eschews television sets and Wi-Fi to encourage diners to connect with one another.

Originally from North Miami, chef-owner Mary Siragusa lost her mother to cancer when she was 6, and helped her father cook for her six siblings. She raised her daughter, Francesca, as a single mom running a juice bar, and four years ago launched a gluten-free meal-delivery service.

They joined forces at Fresh First, with Francesca in charge of the baking. She makes puffy buns and waffle bread from rice flour and buttermilk, as well as raw flax bread.

The menu includes grilled cheese made with white Cheddar, apple slices, cardamom and cinnamon between golden waffles. Chicken salad is made with grapes and dill, nestled in a bun with romaine. The raw lentil burger with sprouts and avocado is wrapped in a soft chard leaf. Quinoa is stir-fried with shredded carrots, purple cabbage, red pepper and scallions and topped with an egg.

Soups range from creamy cauliflower on Tuesday to chilled cucumber and yogurt on Saturday. Salads include the Moroccan with kale, spinach, sprouts, and walnuts in pomegranate dressing and Asian greens with golden beets in ginger dressing.

Other options include quinoa burgers, turkey bacon BLTs, tuna melts, smoothies, house-made sodas, gluten-free beer and organic wines.

Finish with a quinoa cupcake with blueberry-basil jam and goat cheese frosting.