Pizza. It’s one of the items people switching to a gluten-free diet seem to miss most. Yet, it doesn’t have to be. Not anymore.
A host of local pizzerias now serve pizzas prepared on gluten-free crusts. Just recently, Domino’s Pizza also added a gluten-free pizza option to its menu, the first large-scale pizza chain to do so. The availability of these products signals a recognition of the needs of the expanding gluten-free community, whether it be those with gluten intolerance (celiac disease), sensitivity or those avoiding it out of general health concerns.
Not all gluten-free pizzas are appropriate, however, for everyone avoiding gluten. Individuals with celiac disease or high levels of sensitivity can only eat the crusts prepared in an environment free of gluten. Some restaurants go to great lengths to avoid cross contamination and are appropriate for those with celiac disease while some are better suited for those with lower levels of gluten sensitivity.
I sampled a number of gluten-free pizzas across the metro area. Here are a few to try:
Blue Moon Pizza co-owner Mandy Slater says the pizzeria began carrying gluten-free crusts two years ago after a regular customer educated them about gluten sensitivity. That customer frequently dined at Blue Moon and enjoyed the pizza so much that she ate it knowing that it would make her sick. Slater says that’s when she began researching gluten-free crusts that would complement the look, taste and texture of the restaurant’s traditional pizzas.
The 10 -inch gluten-free crusts ($3 upcharge) here are of the thin and crispy, cracker-like variety. Unlike the crusts on many such pizzas, the bread doesn’t become gummy underneath the toppings. My favorite part of this crust is the generous sprinkle of kosher salt and cracked black pepper on the rim. Try the classic pizza with Italian sausage, pepperoni, tri-colored peppers, red onion and mushrooms.
Blue Moon goes to great lengths to avoid cross contamination, making its pizza safe for those with celiac disease. Employees are trained to change gloves, shake off aprons and prepare the gluten-free pizzas on special trays. They go to the walk-in cooler to pull toppings from uncontaminated containers and use designated utensils. Slater says they take strict precautions with each gluten-free order. “We treat everyone like we are going to kill them with one grain of gluten,” she said.
Locations in Buckhead, Marietta, Sandy Springs and Smyrna.
Woodstock has a little gem of a pizza place in Firestone. The 10 -inch gluten-free crusts (no upcharge) here are among the best I’ve tasted in Atlanta. Most gluten-free crusts have an ultra thin and crispy texture, a sturdy vehicle for toppings. Yet the bread is my favorite part of pizza (not the toppings), so I crave a gluten-free crust that satisfies my bread lust. Firestone’s got it.
While thin, the gluten-free crust at Firestone, made with rice flour, is soft and chewy with spots of char similar to a Neapolitan pizza crust. The pizzas cook in wood-burning ovens imported from Tuscany. They are prepared using designated cutting boards and metal trays, but the same toppings are used for both traditional and gluten-free pizzas.
My favorite here is the figs pizza, a sweet and salty concoction with sweet black mission figs, melty blue cheese, salty shavings of country ham and fresh arugula with a bite.
120 Chambers St., Woodstock. 678-837-6836.
Mellow Mushroom’s gluten-free pizza crusts may be one of those love-it-or-hate-it items. The texture of these crusts are reminiscent of corn bread, with a cakelike consistency. The company spent over a year developing the recipe, which contains a combination of bean flour, rice flour, tapioca flour and starch.
Mellow Mushroom’s 12 -inch gluten-free crusts (no upcharge) are deemed safe for those with celiac disease. Neither the standard dough nor the gluten-free crusts are made in the stores, and all employees receive training on avoiding cross contamination. Cooks don new gloves and aprons before preparing gluten-free orders, which cook on a special screen and never touch the pizza stone.
Multiple locations across the metro Atlanta area.
Located in Roswell, Belly’s Pizza is a neighborhood spot that has offered gluten-free pizzas in addition to traditional ones for more than five years. The crunchy crusts of these 10 -inch pies ($10, plus $1.50 per topping) have that slightly sweet nuttiness common to gluten-free dough. Precautions such as new gloves, separate cooking surfaces and separate toppings are employed to avoid cross contamination. A number of the restaurant’s specialty pizzas can be made on the gluten-free crusts, but I’d recommend keeping it simple. Go for a classic pizza here to satisfy a need to nosh.
550 W. Crossville Road, Roswell. 770-594-8118.
Look for a follow-up to this piece tomorrow on the blog with information about some of the other gluten-free pizzas I sampled while writing this roundup.