Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Locally Gluten Free: Part 7 (Pizza Challenge)

There are two local pizza places which offer gluten free crusts with gluten free toppings. I have eaten a few times at each location, not thinking of reviewing either for some reason. In an effort to have some fun, and to share these places with my readers, I have decided to take this 7th entry of Locally Gluten Free to the next level. I bring to you:

Locally Gluten Free Part 7
Mario's Pizzaria AND La Casa Restaurant

To compare the two I ordered the same pizza from both locations. The pizza contained grilled chicken, mushrooms, broccoli, red sauce, peppers, spinach and mozzarella. Mike and I put each pizza through a 'rigorous' series of test which included the taste test, the oil blot test and the reheat test! 

Mario's pizza consisted of large chunks of each ingredient on top of  a thin crust. The flavors seemingly blended together into one uniform taste that lacked in terms of holding my attention. Mike, being a manager at a store, suggested that some ingredients may have been canned which would explain their seeming lack of flavor. The sauce was sweet and was the most defining flavor. Vegetables were un-grilled and uncooked, something I do not enjoy on my pizzas. In addition, the pie was cut into six pieces and was also somewhat soggy. This resulted in the pizza being rather difficult to eat and frequently falling apart. When blotted with a paper towel, the paper towel soaked up an unnecessary amount of oil. When re-heated the pizza was even more soggy and one was left having to eat it with fork only because it did not withstand reheating. The excessive oil left the reheated products even more soggy and less tasteful.

La Casa's pizza was a bit different than Mario's. First of all, while the same thing was requested it was interesting to see the drastic difference between the two pizzas such as the use of green peppers rather than red and the sheer quality of the ingredients. The ingredients used in this pizza were definitely higher quality. Each ingredient had it's own distinctive flavor yet the flavors molded together to create a very flavorful and delightful taste. In addition, the ingredients were cut into smaller pieces and better dispersed on the pizza which increased the flavor with each bite. The crust on this pizza was thicker and fuller. This matched with the pizza being cut into quarters rather than sixths allowed for the pizza to stay together and carry the ingredients better. When blotted with the paper towel there was little oil residue, even when pushed harder than the Mario's pizza. When reheated the pizza maintained it's flavor, consistency and texture well. 

Mike and I both decided, hands down, that La Casa Pizzeria was the winner of this challenge! Congratulations! 
Their food was prepared with far more care and consideration, which shows in the improved nature of their product over all and it's flavor.    

Now, from a reviewing perspective there are other things to take into consideration other than the pizza itself: First of all is gluten free options. Mario's pizza offers just gluten free pizza crust, while La Casa offers both gluten free pizza crust and gluten free pasta. Of course this addition offers expanded options to the gluten free pizzeria goer, including Baked Ziti Pizza! For anyone with Celiac disease, there also may be the concern of cross contamination. La Casa Pizza left the pizza in the metal tin while Mario's Pizza did not, something that helps a gluten free foodie feel more safe given the nature of cooking and transferring pizza in a pizzeria. In addition, La Casa Pizza seemed more interested in discussing their guidelines for preventing cross contamination. Price is also a concern. In this realm La Casa is also a winner, by about 5 dollars. It is probably also the cheapest gluten free pizza I have purchased anywhere. In the realm of timing, again, La Casa was quicker and more effective. However, in respect to hospitality and atmosphere of the area both pizzeria's were essentially equal although they did differ in size. Mario's is smaller with a bit more of a rushed atmosphere but none the less inviting.

And to finish things of, we have the final shamrock ratings!

Mario's Pizza:
Gluten Free Options: .5
Atmosphere: .5
Price: .5
Hospitality: 1
Food Quality: .5 


La Casa Restaurant: 
Gluten Free Options: 1
Atmosphere: 1
Price: 1
Hospitality: 1
Food Quality: 1


I hope you enjoyed this special addition of Locally Gluten free. It was a lot of fun to think about pizza in a different more critical and comparative way.  Do you have a favorite pizzeria that offers gluten free pizza? Leave a comment and tell me about it, I would love to hear what you have to say! 

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