Gluten-free pizza menu available from 30 April
Tomorrow, Tuesday 30 April 2013 will be a momentous day for anyone who’s been yearning for a gluten- free pizza or just wants to eat out with friends and family without feeling nervous/disappointed about their meal. Yes, that familiar sign on most high streets, Pizza Express, is launching it’s own gluten-free range encompassing starters, mains, deserts and even the kid’s menu.
I can already boast that I have tried one and let me tell you folks …. it tasted like a pizza base, it was good! You see, last week Pizza Express invited little ole Gluten Free and Gorgeous to their Holborn restaurant in London, where I and a select ( ) group of gluten-free bloggers were treated to their new gluten-free menu and not only that our comments and suggestions were listened to as well. Now isn’t that just grand?!
Gluten Free bloggers tuck into Pizza Express’ new gluten free pizza bases
The bases are bought in from a company called Molias who are the second largest gluten-free bakery in Europe. It’s a classic 11″ thin crust with a slightly doughy texture making it taste more like a ”real” pizza. I know it’s very personal but I preferred it to ASK’s gluten-free pizza which although absolutely fine is more like a biscuit base as it’s extremely thin and crunchy. You can choose a topping from all but four of the usual Pizza Express toppings AND you won’t be charged any extra for the base. They are also doing a 7″ Piccolo pizza for children which will make a lot of children and adults very happy indeed!
All of us food bloggers were left under no illusion as to how hard the company had worked to ensure the processes for delivering gluten free food to your table were considered in great detail. From the moment a gluten-free option is ordered to the second it arrives in front of you a intricate system springs into action to ensure no contamination takes place. I was very re-assured by the fact that they have introduced gluten-free flour across the whole chain so there is no risk of cross-contamination. Separate ladles and clean pizza peels (the large spade like utensils used to take the pizzas out of the oven) are used, and separate pizza screens (the round frames that the pizzas are stretched onto) employed for the gluten-free pizzas. The equipment is also stored separately to those used for the other pizzas. On top of that, the waiters have received the same training as the chefs so you can be assured that your food is being prepared and delivered in the safest way possible. This is real progress in the field of educating people exactly what gluten is.
At the event much emphasis was placed on the fact that Pizza Express want Coeliacs and those with gluten intolerance to feel “safe” and “secure” eating a gluten-free pizza in one of their restaurants. I was re-assured by the fact that they have introduced gluten-free flour across the whole chain so there is no risk of cross-contamination. The gluten-free items on the menu are currently labelled NGCI – (non gluten containing ingredients) as opposed to Gluten Free because the menus were printed before the introduction of gluten free only flour into the restaurants. They have even printed separate gluten-free leaflets for the tables providing information how the food is prepared.
Just to wet you appetite, this is what we were treated to … and I must say was a lot more than I’d expected…
* A new starter of Risotto d’Oro which contains roasted butternut squash, garlic oil, gorgonzola and was just delicious!
* We chose a topping for out gluten-free base. I opted for an Etna which was quite a bit hotter than I remember in my gluten eating days, but I enjoyed it all the same. I would give it 9/10 for gluten-free normability.
My first Pizza Express gluten-free pizza Etna style ie hot, hot!
Gluten-free American hot pizza, photo courtesy Pizza Express
This was followed by desert of a gluten-free brownie which our hosts had been very excited about us trying. As promised it had that lovely crunchy top and slight gooey centre. It’s served with a coffee but is the only gluten-free desert option on the menu. As good as it tasted, I know it’s pretty easy to make gluten-free brownies because I bake them myself. So I added my two pennies worth and suggested another option would be much appreciated.
My first Pizza Express gluten-free brownie
Gluten-free brownie and coffee, photo courtesy Pizza Express
Whilst I was in the giving mood I also suggested that there should be more options on the children’s menu for desert. After all the ice cream itself is gluten-free but because it’s served in a cone is not labelled as such, so why not indicate this as an option without the cone and pre-contamination of course.
All the Pizza Express representatives were very receptive to any suggestions and indeed one little girl name Rebecca Gardner of Guildford had a big say in Pizza Express even developing a gluten-free menu. Her Dad knows the Marketing Manager, Emma so he and Rebecca
hassled lobbied her to do something about it. That personal touch along with a 40% spike in enquiries for gluten free options between September and January this year helped propel tomorrow’s launch.
I nearly forgot they have even sourced a gluten-free pilsner too from Greens which certainly got the thumbs from me in a previous product test.
A big thank you also has to go to Ann Maloney at Coeliac UK who worked closely with Pizza Express to ensure that Coeliacs would be comfortable eating at the restaurant.
If you have questions for the guys at Pizza Express you can contact them through their Facebook page or send a tweet to Paul @PizzaExpress. Voice your thoughts, they really want to know.
Wow isn’t the world of gluten free eating out changing? Don’t forget to drop me a line to tell me what you think of the pizza base too either here on the GF&G Facebook page. Look forward to hearing your reviews!