Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gluten-free Pizza

I apologize it's taken me a lot longer to write a new post than I promised! But I've been working on a special post that also happens to be about one of my favorite comfort foods: pizza!

My family heritage is Italian (on my mother's side), and there was a time when every Thursday was pizza night. If Mom didn't make it herself, we ordered from our local house of pizza. Four years ago when a gluten-free lifestyle change was demanded by the medical needs of my mom, myself and my two sisters, ordering pizza out became impossible. So we spent a year learning how to make gluten-free pizza.

That was four years ago.

I'm pleased to say that more and more places are coming on-board with gluten-free options, and this includes restaurants right here in Charlotte! I've been taste-testing and evaluating a number of different gluten-free pizzas that I've all found in Charlotte.

The first place is in the freezer chest at Harris Teeter. Glutino has come out with some amazing tasting, gluten-free pizzas. At the moment, all I've tried are the Three Cheese and the Spinach and Feta. They're individual pizzas. I'll admit the box makes them look a bit bigger, and my first impression when I took it out of the box to put on my cookie sheet was annoyance. But the pizza more than made up for it in taste and texture! Glutino's pizzas have crispy, buttery tasting crusts, ample cheese, and amazing taste. And even though I thought the pizza was small, it was very filling. The only thing is that they are a bit expensive: $5.35 at my local Harris Teeter. But when it comes to wanting a pizza on the fly to take for lunch or pop in the oven after a long day at work, this pizza delivers!

For another option for gluten-free pizza, check out Donatos. Yes, Donatos, the pizza chain! They sell a gluten-free pizza that has the smell of a classic pizza, the taste of a classic pizza, and the convenience of picking it up at the pizza joint. There's only one little problem. This pizza has no crust. To avoid the gluten problem, Donatos builds the pizza in a dish on a bed of soy-based crumbs, and puts the sauce, cheese and toppings on top of that. I'm used to a crust on my pizza, so it's a little disappointing to eat this one out of a dish with a fork. But when it comes to taste, this is an excellent pizza. Due to the lack of crust, I would recommend ordering this pizza with something for a topping. Tomato sauce and cheese by itself isn't the greatest form of gluten-free pizza. Adding a topping builds extra flavor and body. This pizza is about the same price at the Glutino pizzas.

By far an away, the best gluten-free pizza in Charlotte is the gluten-free pizza offered by FUEL Pizza. The picture above is from FUEL. It has a crispy flat crust, plenty of cheese and sauce, and excellent taste. Even though Donatos is considerably cheaper in price, this is my preferred pizza. Though the crust can be a bit flat at times, the joy of being able to hold a hot piece of pizza in my hands, enjoy the flavors and juices running down my fingers, and crumple up the real cardboard pizza box when I'm done more than makes up for the things this pizza lacks. There's only one major drawback to this pizza: you've got to buy the whole 12" pie, and it's not cheap. I usually order mine with a couple of toppings, and it's about $13 or so. But, if I keep down my appetite, I can eat half at one meal and half later. But with the taste of this pizza, that's a little hard to do!

Four years ago, the only way to get gluten-free pizza was to bake it yourself. Now, there are gluten-free options outside your own kitchen!

WARNING: While the pizza from Glutino is most certainly gluten-free, pizza eaters at Donatos and FUEL should bare in mind: though the pizzas are prepared in a separate place (and in the case of FUEL, the crust is made elsewhere and frozen), they are baked in the SAME OVENS as the regular pizza. While I consider myself very sensitive, I'm able to get away with eating these pizzas. If you are very sensitive, consider the possible consequences and make the choice for yourself if this is a gluten-free pizza for you.


Ligia Stiverson said...

Hi Rachel!
Thanks for blogging on Donatos' gluten-free alternative. It's fantastic when real folks comment on Donatos' menu variety and food quality.
I handle the marketing efforts for Donatos in the Charlotte area and we're working very hard to make Donatos a household name for Charlotteans.
Become a fan on Facebook Donatos Charlotte (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/DonatosCharlotte?ref=ts)and stay connected with all things Donatos and informed of upcoming promotions.
Please free to contact me if I can be of any service.
Ligia Stiverson

ace said...

Thanks Rachel for sharing the Gluten-free Pizza Post. I’ll have to try it out sometime. Have you every tried Vivace located on Metropolitan Ave? Vivace Charlotte has a great Gluten-Free menu.

Morgandeth said...

Thank you so much for the Charlotte info. Great Blog!

Morgandeth said...

Thanks for the Charlotte info. Great Blog!