Gluten-free Pizza: A Survival Guide to Making Sure It's Gluten-free

January 20, 2017 ― Heather Sliwinski Community

Gluten-free PizzaPizza shows up everywhere – corporate events, kids’ birthday parties, game day, after work drinks, before the movies, adult birthday parties, work lunches, friends’ houses or even as a substitute for holiday meals. There’s something about the combo of crust, tomato sauce and cheese that everyone can get behind. However, gluten-free eaters find navigating these pizza-heavy events tricky, even if gluten-free pizza is on the menu. Staying gluten-free while eating pizza isn’t as simple as just swapping in a gluten-free crust.

Pizza has always been at the top of the list of foods gluten-free folks want to test with Nima because it is so difficult to find a truly gluten-free pizza. We’ve done a lot of testing in San Francisco –  Tony’s, Patxi’s, Amici’s and more. We’ve tested meat lovers’ specials, veggie supremes, traditional pepperoni and even vegan versions.

Nima’s survival guide for ordering (and eating) gluten-free pizza.

Ask lots of questions

Ask questions. Some might be obvious, but quite a few we learned to ask after still finding gluten in gluten-free pizzas with Nima.

  • Is there dedicated gluten-free prep space and toppings? Do staff change their gloves?
  • Is the gluten-free pizza cooked in the same oven as conventional pizza?
  • If cooked in the same oven, is it put on a sheet of tinfoil or on a cooking dish reserved for gluten-free orders?
  • Is the gluten-free dough made in-house?
  • Is it a frozen gluten-free pizza that will be cooked to order?
  • Are there dedicated gluten-free pizza cutters?
  • If ordering delivery, ask if your pizza will be stored in the same to-go container as a conventional pizza. You may wish to ask if they have dedicated gluten-free insulated bags.

Depending on the toppings you like, you may need to ask additional questions about how those items are prepared or sourced. Just because the crust is gluten-free, doesn’t mean the sausage or pepperoni is, and the restaurant may not think to warn you about gluten in toppings.

Testing gluten-free pizza

You’ve asked all the right questions, but kitchens are chaotic. Another safeguard is to test your gluten-free pizza with Nima. Pro tip: you should test the crust AND toppings. More than a few times, the crust has come up with a smile on Nima, but when testing toppings, we’ve found low gluten. Sauce and toppings can be victims of cross-contact in shared prep areas – if they’re using the same toppings bins as regular pizza, those bins are already contaminated even if they change their gloves.

Before you test, use clean hands or fresh silverware to get your sample. We suggest taking a slice and cutting off a little bit near the tip of the slice so you can get crust, sauce and toppings in one sample. (Just don’t overfill the capsule.) You can take a topping piece and drag it around in sauce and other toppings before you put it into the capsule. You can also ask for a sample of the topping ahead of time to test before they even make the pizza!

After inserting the capsule into the sensor, wait a few minutes, and hopefully you see Nima smile. Not sure what to say to wait staff when you find gluten? We’ve got conversation starters for you here.