When dining out locally for gluten-free pizza there are several factors to consider before jumming in the car, or picking up the phone to order a pie. For me, the first is safety, followed by taste, crust, and then cost. People who follow a gluten-free diet will travel a considerable distance to enjoy pizza, since it is one of the top missed comfort foods, so if you build a good pizza, they will come!
People who eat gluten-free for medical reasons need to know if the pizza is prepared taking safety into consideration. This encompasses all aspects of preparation, from surfaces, to utensils, and shared ingredients. Next up is taste and that includes ingredient selection, sauce, and crust type. If the crust isn’t vegan, or it contains soy, or you just plain don’t like it, then there is no reason to stop by. Even if a restaurant uses the same crust as another, the cooking method will produce a different result, so each pizza needs to be judged separately.
Finally, cost needs to be addressed. Most pizza places add an up charge to the final price to cover the cost of the gluten-free crusts that can vary from one dollar up to four dollars per pie. The size of the crust, medium or large, makes a difference too because leftovers factor into the overall cost.
In my opinion, the way to separate out the multitude of pizza places offering gluten-free pizza is by their safe handling procedures, or lack thereof. A number of pizza places use the same ingredients in the same area to prepare pizzas, which leaves them open to cross contact from gloved hands touching wheat-based pizzas.
Gluten-free pizza prepared using shared ingredients:
- Domino's - I don't know whose crust they use as they won't disclose the company name. I can tell you they use shared ingredients in a share environment and they tell you it isn't safe for celiacs, or anyone else who wants to avoid cross contact with gluten.
- Johnny's NY Style Pizza - is serving Rich's 10.5" gluten-free crusts and the crust is GFCO certified, comes in its own pan, is cooked in this pan, and then it is sliced with a dedicated cutter. The pizzas are not prepared with separate ingredients or in a separate preparation area. They make their wheat-based crusts onsite and use flour when rolling them out, so there is a high possibility of cross contact.
- Osteria 832 Pizza and Pasta - uses Domata's gluten-free crust to make their gluten-free pizzas. They prepare them on the same surface and bake it in the same oven where we prepare their gluten pizzas, so they do not guarantee that the pizza will be gluten free. They do use corn meal to dust the work service and oven peels instead of flour. They also offer rice pasta as an alternative to our wheat pastas and it is cooked in separate pans and utensils from pastas containing gluten.
- Pepperoni's - uses Venice Bakery's gluten-free crust and they are cooked on dedicated pans in their conveyor pizza oven. Staff changes gloves and uses dedicated utensils when preparing.
- Riverside Pizza – is one of the few places that use Senza Glutine’s 10" seasoned crust. Their cheese is grated fresh daily and they use two layers on each pizza, their sauce is tangy and not sweet, and the pizza cooks evenly with just the right amount of crunch. The seasonings in the crust blend with the ingredients perfectly leaving one to wonder if it is really gluten free. No up charge.
- Uncle Maddio's - offers Venice Bakery's pre-made vegan/gluten-free crust. They use dedicated pans and a cutter, but they use the same ingredients to prepare all of their pizzas.
- zpizza - uses Venice Bakery's vegan/gluten-free crust to prepare their gluten-free pizzas in two different sizes 10" and 14". They have completed the NFCA’s Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Training Program, which means they have verified their gluten-free ingredients and they have been trained on how to properly prevent cross contamination. There is a $2 up charge for 10’ and a $3 up charge for 14’.
Gluten-free pizza prepared with dedicated ingredients:
- 5 Season's Brewing Company - make homemade 11" gluten-free pizza crust using yeast, organic buckwheat flour, rice flour, corn flour, corn meal, honey, and molasses. According to Jenny Turknett, they take great care to avoid cross contamination. When a gluten-free pizza is ordered, employees clear the butcher station, where no flour is used, to use as the prep space. The person working the salad station, who does not work with flour, prepares the pizza. And, finally, it is cooked at the saute station, again to reduce the likelihood of cross contamination. There is no up charge.
- Belly's Pizza - offer 10" pies made using Venice Bakery's crust. Precautions they take to avoid cross contamination are: new gloves, separate cooking surfaces and separate toppings. $10 per pizza, plus $1.50 per topping
- Blue Moon Pizza - offers gluten-free pizzas on a 10" Smart Flour Foods crust. What I like about this place is they take cross contamination very seriously, so pizzas are prepared in the walk-in cooler using separate toppings and utensils. Employees are trained to change gloves, shake off aprons and prepare the pizzas on special trays. Order their garlic cheesy bread and you can thank me later. All locations stock Daiya cheese. There is a $4 up charge.
- Buckhead Pizza Company - offers gluten-free pizza on Domata's gluten-free crust. According to Sean Kelly, the owner, their pizza is prepared with special attention to prevent cross contamination. The crusts come in their own aluminum baking pan and they are prepared in a dedicated area using specially labeled utensils and ingredients. There is a $2 up charge.
- California Pizza Kitchen – had a nationwide gluten-free pizza re-launch, but this time they are using dedicated ingredients, utensils, etc. Their pizzas are made on a proprietary crust and topped with high-end ingredients, like Nuskie’s bacon, truffle oil, and spicy pepperoni. The outer crust is crunchy while the middle of the pizza is doughy and under cooked. $2 up charge
- Chuck E. Cheese's - is offering Conte's Pasta gluten-free pre-made pizzas that are GFCO certified. The pizza arrives at Chuck E. Cheese's kitchens frozen and in a sealed bag. The pizza is designed to be cooked in the sealed bag, so it goes from freezer to oven and to table all while remaining sealed. The pizza is then delivered to the table with a disposable pizza cutter, which says gluten free, ready to be cut and served. They have gluten-free cupcakes too! No up charge.
- Don Antonio by Starita – is one of the few local places I know of making a fresh crust with Caputo flour in a dedicated environment with separate ingredients and utensils. Better yet, they offer a number of hot appetizers. They make their own mozzarella, sauce, and their crust is between a thick and a thin with great rise. They are generous with toppings and the cheese comes out bubbling. No up charge.
- Firestone Wood Fired Pizza & Grill - uses Smart Flower Foods gluten-free crust, which is dairy and soy free as well. They prepare the pie on a separate surface from other pizzas to prevent cross contamination, and they use separate utensils and ingredients during preparation. No up charge.
- Mellow Mushroom - is using Smart Flour Foods gluten-free crust. Each location prepares gluten-free pizzas differently, so ask when ordering if they are made with dedicated ingredients and utensils in a separate area. No up charge.
- Pizzeria Venti - uses Senza Glutine pizza crusts and they offer their pastas (gnocchi and penne ) too. Their pastas are cooked in a separate cooking device using clean and designated utensils. Separate ingredients, spatula, and cutting wheel is used on the gluten free pizza. The pizzas are also cooked in a clean pan and not on the pizza stone. They do make their wheat-based dough in house, so there is airborne gluten. No up charge.
- Vingenzo's - makes homemade 12" gluten-free pizza crusts and pasta using potato flour, rice flour, and cornstarch. The crust is prepared with separate ingredients, in a dedicated area, using separate ingredients, and is baked in a separate oven using dedicated pans and utensils. There is a $1 up charge.
- Your Pie - uses French Meadow Bakery's crust (contains eggs, and soy), dedicated ingredients, and a separate area to prepare the gluten-free pizzas. They also offer Daiya cheese for those who are lactose intolerant. Make sure to tell them you want it made in a dedicated area otherwise they will make it right alongside the wheat-based pizzas. There is a $2 up charge.
Where is your favorite place in Atlanta to enjoy a gluten-free pizza?