Tag Archives: pizza

Pizza Express Gluten Free Review

3 May

Well this blog got somewhat known for it’s pizza reviews during the great gluten free pizza rush of 2012.  It’s been a while but Pizza Express have this week given me an excuse to write about (and of course eat!) gluten free pizza once more.  Last week I looked on enviously as some of my blogger friends attended the Pizza Express gluten free launch event.  There seemed to be universal great feedback, so I couldn’t wait to go out and give this a try myself when the new gluten free menu options were rolled out nationwide on April 30th.

GFBeerPizza Express have been working closely with Coeliac UK for a number of years to get this right, and have managed to get NGCI accreditation for their efforts.  Feedback from the launch event was that they were taking cross contamination extremely seriously, to the extent that Pizza Express have switched from wheat flour to gluten free flour to stretch out the dough for the regular pizzas.  This obviously drastically reduces any cross contamination risk and is an extremely impressive measure that they have taken.

The menu was clearly labelled with an NGCI symbol next to the gluten free choices.  I thought the menu was less clear though when it came to the pizza section.  It clearly stated a GF base was available and that most toppings were gluten free, though I had to query which ones I couldn’t have.  With regards cross contamination, Coeliac UK had this to say about Pizza Express in this month’s eXG email “They have been stringent in their approach to safety, introducing a rigorous training programme for team members, new equipment and even gluten-free flour in their restaurants, which will be used to stretch their regular bases.”

I’d phoned in advance to ensure that the gluten free bases were available, and the staff member I spoke to was fully aware of the new menu options and keen to tell me that they also offered gluten free brownie now.  When we arrived at the restaurant I was also pleased to see they had made a note that I needed to eat gluten free next to the booking.  Upon being seated the first thing I noticed was the gluten free brownie being advertised loud and clear, it gave a clear impression Pizza Express were proud of the changes and were not hiding it away in small print as I have seen others do.

First order of business was of course to get my hands on a gluten free beer!  Hats off to Pizza Express for providing this option, and it is good to see this attention to detail.  The beer itself was a pilsner from Greens, which was light and refreshing.  It is the first time I have seen the option of a gluten free beer with a meal in Plymouth so a big thumbs up.  I have to admit though I think I am a fully converted cider drinker now!  It was great to have the option though, and a nice novelty to have a beer.

GFPizza

On to the main event, and the pizza.  Nearly all the toppings are gluten free, the exceptions being meatballs, spicy beef and Gruyere and parmesan sauce.  I went for the American Hot with jalapeño peppers.  I was not disappointed.  The base itself was thin and crispy, and I know many of you who have tried the Domino’s base have commented on a preference for a thinner crust.  The taste and texture of the base were good and I was very pleased with my topping choices, full of flavour and a nice spicy kick from the peppers.  Overall very impressed.

GFBrownieI couldn’t really leave without sampling the gluten free brownie for you all now could I?  First thing to note is that the dessert is part of the Dolcetti range, meaning it is a “mini dessert” that comes with a coffee or tea.  Don’t expect a big portion here!  My wife did laugh at the size of the brownie, but I have to admit it was actually a nice size after demolishing a whole pizza.  The brownie itself was delicious, extremely rich and chocolatey and I was very impressed.

Whilst ordering I was made to feel very normal, like gluten free was no problem at all, and this is always a good experience.  The staff seemed genuinely interested in my thoughts and enquired a couple of times on my opinion of the food.  I was happy to report that I was thoroughly impressed with the whole meal and I would definitely go back for another go.

After my previous pizza reviews I tried to rank them, and I had Domino’s coming out on top.  I’ve been giving some thought as to where I would put Pizza Express in this list.  It’s a tough comparison, and a feel like it is kind of comparing apples and oranges.  Domino’s feels like a naughty takeaway, whereas Pizza Express has very much more of a restaurant feel to their pizza.  The flavour of the pizza at Pizza Express I would say was more sophisticated and the herbs used really added depth to the flavour in the toppings.  Truth be told, I will probably eat Domino’s more simply because of the takeaway and delivery options.  However, in terms of the toppings I think you’d have to lean towards Pizza Express.  Domino’s is a thicker pizza so it really is down to personal preference here, both bases are good in their own right, but if you prefer a thinner base I have no doubt you will prefer the Pizza Express offering.  I think I’ll call it a tie.

For Plymouth readers, there are two branches of Pizza Express in the city.  I visited the Derrys Cross restaurant, which can be found next door to another restaurant reviewed on this blog JD’s Grill.  The other branch can be found near the cinema within the Barbican Leisure Park.

For more information have a read of the excellent blogs at Little Missed Gluten and The Happy Coeliac.  Both are about the launch party and go into more depth about the cross contamination measures that are in place.  For those of you who suffer from further allergies and intolerances you can view Pizza Express’ full allergy information here.  I’d definitely recommend coeliacs and fellow gluten freers giving Pizza Express a go, please comment below with your feedback if you’ve given it a try already.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea.

Domino’s Gluten Free Pizza Review

19 Nov

Well after a delay to the previously stated 5th November launch, the 19th came and it was time to try the Domino’s gluten free pizza base.  Back in my gluten eating days pre-coeliac I was always a Domino’s man when it came to pizza, so I’ve been really looking forward to this one.  Of course the first concern for coeliacs is the cross contamination risk, and it is great that Domino’s have put so much information online with regards their cross contamination controls.  You can read full details here.  They have been working for years with Coeliac UK on this, and from reading the controls that are in place it seems like they are doing everything right.

In the interests of full disclosure I must mention that Domino’s contacted me last week and sent me the press release for their gluten free launch.  They also sent me a voucher to try a gluten free pizza for free, though I was planning on buying one anyway.  The gluten free bases are available to order in-store, online and over the phone.  Their mobile app is still in the process of being updated.  I decided to phone in my order so I could quiz the branch with regards cross contamination.  I had already read the on-line information and the person I spoke to was able to rattle off all of those things when I spoke to them, a good start.  If you look at the menu on the website all items containing gluten are clearly marked with a “G”.

Firstly the downside.  The gluten free base is only available to order as a small 9.5 inch base.  This was actually enough for me, but it would have been nice to have the choice of a medium at least.  However as the bases are coming in sealed packs I can appreciate storage could be an issue if they were larger.  Secondly, only two of the sides were gluten free.  Spicy pork bites and coleslaw.  My branch didn’t serve coleslaw and even though it did have the spicy pork bites these were not listed on the website (UPDATE: Domino’s have contacted me this morning to say they’ve rectified this) .  I did order the pork bites to try and wasn’t particularly impressed, and wouldn’t order them again.  It would be good if Domino’s could work on the sides, at least ensuring all branches stock these two items.  Maybe something like potato wedges which are also on the menu could be re-worked to be gluten free.

Now for the upside, the pizza was amazing!  I absolutely loved the base.  It was light and tasty and a perfect vessel for the topping.  As with Pizza Hut, those who like a thin and crispy base may be disappointed.  I thought it was perfect and was a lot like the Domino’s base I remember from the dim and distant past.  I went for the Texas BBQ pizza, and what a great choice I made.  Tangy BBQ sauce topped with smoky bacon, succulent roast chicken, onions and green peppers.  Having a BBQ sauce rather than a tomato sauce base worked exceptionally well and I loved every mouth full.  After my previous poor topping choice at Prezzo this was a great result.  As for the price £12.99 for a small pizza is a lot of money, but there are always offers around for money off or buy one get one free, and we only ever really used to get takeaway pizza when there were offers on pre-diagnosis.

I’d also recently been sent a sample of a gluten free Lager from Celia, a gluten free Czech lager just launching in the UK.  I took the opportunity to wash the pizza down with an ice cold lager, which was also delicious.  I have to say sitting on my sofa, watching TV with a cold lager in one hand and a slice of takeaway pizza in the other I felt almost normal.  Thank you Domino’s and Celia for that!

So the big question is, where does Domino’s rank in the pizza stakes?  If you’ve already read my Pizza Hut and Prezzo reviews you’ll know I had Pizza Hut ahead.  Well now there is a new leader, for me Domino’s have come out on top.  Really enjoyed the pizza and will definitely be buying again, and being the only one that deliver is a big plus point too.  My branch asked if they could call me for feedback which they duly did.  They were kind enough to offer me two for one or a free side on my next order, to say thanks too.  A great experience over all.  I have however heard from one person elsewhere in the country who had a gluten base mistakenly delivered, so as always be vigilant when ordering.  I am happy to report that three hours on I have had no reaction (UPDATE: Still feeling fine next day so all good).

Which pizza do you prefer in the great gluten free pizza debate?  Please comment below and let me know.

UPDATE 02/02/13: According to the Coeliac UK eXG February email Domino’s have put in place some extra precautions to ensure to ensure the safety of gluten free customers:

– GF pizza’s will no longer be sliced to make them easily identifiable (also cuts out risk from a contaminated cutter)
– Different sized screens to be used to cook gluten free pizzas to make them more easily identifiable in the ovens
– Gluten free notification will appear on confirmation emails and at point of ordering on-line
– A link to the gluten free pizza’s will be visible from the on-line ordering homepage

 

These changes will be enforced by mid-February, and the pizza I ordered today arrived un-sliced.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Prezzo Gluten Free Pizza

12 Nov

The gluten free world was recently sent into excitement by a glut of pizza announcements.  The news that Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Prezzo were launching gluten free pizza bases was swiftly followed up by Ask Italian.  I recently posted a review of the Pizza Hut gluten free offering, and with news that the Domino’s GF launch has been delayed until November 19th and the lack of an Ask Italian in Plymouth, I set out to try the Prezzo version.

Prezzo are currently offering a voucher on their website offering two courses for £10.  The voucher applies to the entire table, and as there were four of us this was a good deal.  Unfortunately the offer expires 12th November.  The Plymouth branch of Prezzo is situated in the Royal William Yard, which is fast becoming a gluten free hot spot.  The restaurant itself is very well decorated and situated in a great location.  It was also pleasing to see an Italian restaurant with several Italians on the staff.

I decided to skip the starter and go straight for the main course.  My wife was the only one to order a starter, some bruschetta, and nearly thirty minutes after ordering this hadn’t arrived.  My wife chased this and it arrived a few minutes later, and I suspect there was a mix up in the kitchen.  Mistakes happen and I always think it is better to judge a business on how they rectify a problem rather than whether they had one.  The waitress apologised for the delay, had the starter out in a few minutes and offered a free round of drinks for the entire table to make it up to us.  Great customer service after a rocky start.

I of course went for the pizza for the main meal.  I asked which toppings were gluten free, and was told I could have everything but the spicy beef.  I had heard the same from a few people on Twitter, so this gave some reassurance.  I quizzed the waitress with regards cross contamination and she seemed well informed.  I am very sensitive to cross contamination and I am pleased to report I have had no reaction at all to this pizza.  I did note that the menu did have a disclaimer that other gluten items were made in the kitchen, and they could not offer 100% guarantee that the kitchen was free from “airborne contamination”.  Unless the kitchen is 100% gluten free, it’s pretty standard to get a disclaimer similar to this.

There were no further delays in the service and our main course arrived shortly after.  I would usually have gone for a meaty pizza, but wasn’t feeling particularly hungry so was going to order a margherita pizza as I thought it would be less filling.  I had seen comment that the pizza’s here weren’t particularly cheesy, so at the very last second I changed my mind and went for the quattro formaggi.  This was a bit of an error on my part as I hadn’t spotted it had gorgonzola on in my last second switch.  I am not a fan of blue cheese so picked this off.  There was also a bit too much goats cheese for my liking which overpowered the other cheeses, so I regretted my choice a little.  The base itself was thin and tasty, it was crispy on the edges but quite soft in the centre.  My parents enjoyed their gluten filled pasta dishes, but my wife wasn’t particularly impressed with her gluteny pizza, saying she would have liked it crispier.  She tried my base and actually preferred it.

I had scoped out the allergy information pre visit and had been excited to see the vanilla panna cotta was gluten free.  However this was not on the dessert menu which was a shame, so I assume this is maybe a special.  The only gluten free dessert choice was a hazelnet bombe.  This was ice cream covered in chopped hazelnuts with a meringue centre.  This was nice but was no panna cotta.  It certainly would have been nice to have another gluten free choice for dessert.

Overall I think I slightly preferred the Pizza Hut base, though maybe this is down to my poor topping choice influencing me.  I’d be keen to try this again with a different topping and it’s definitely nice to have another gluten free option.  I’d give this a good but not great verdict overall.  See comments on this post for reviews from couple of other people who have tried the Prezzo GF pizza.  Next stop, Domino’s!

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

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