Sunday, 27 January 2013

Your Guide To Eating Out For Gluten Free Pizza

In the gluten free calendar, 2012 will be hailed as the year of the gluten free pizza. They burst on to our high streets in the UK with abundance, as the chain restaurants competed to improve their share of wallet in the increasingly lucrative gluten free market. I have to commend them all for giving it a go, it's not easy to put systems in place in the kitchen to avoid cross contamination, re-train staff and create a great tasting pizza. Pizza's a very personal thing too, some prefer a good deep pan, others a crispy base, some a good tomato sauce, others laden with cheese. What I aim to do here is give you a brief review of how I found them:

Pizza Hut
I was surprised to learn that Pizza Hut were launching a gluten free pizza as the dietary blurb on their website had always suggested that they'd never be venturing into this market as it was in the too difficult camp. Pizza hut for me conjures up memories of teacher training days at school and half our class going to Pizza Hut for all you could eat! The gluten free pizza I had certainly brought back those memories. It's a good deep pan base with a sweet tomato sauce. We shared a BBQ chicken pizza and a pepperoni. They come as square pizzas on a black board with their own cutter, avoiding any horror stories of getting the wrong pizza - a great idea. We went during the launch week and although our waitress had to check a few things she was more than happy to do so. Pizza Hut will be great for those with coeliac children. It was perhaps a little over sweet for my palette but still a good pizza.
Pizza Hut Pepperoni Pizza
Ask Italian
Ask has become my favourite place for a great gluten free pizza. They already had a good array of pasta dishes and with the addition of pizza too, a lot of their menu is now gluten free. The pizza was fantastic, again served on it's own board with individual cutter. The base is thin and crispy and comes with a comprehensive selection of toppings. My favourite has to be the pollo picante, a great spicy chicken pizza, loaded with peppers and mushrooms. The staff are knowledgeable too which always gives you confidence when eating out.
Ask Italian Pollo Picante Pizza
The Prezzo launch almost went unnoticed. There was the odd rumour via twitter but little in the way of publicity. It's another good pizza too. Similar to ask but perhaps a slightly thicker base and generously covered with cheese and tomato. The Vesuvio, a pepperoni pizza with red chillies also packs some heat! When ordering though, the staff do always give you the disclaimer that they can't guarantee 100% that it will be gluten free as it's obviously produced in the same kitchen as non-gluten free pizzas. Possibly Prezzo being extra cautious, but it always feels slightly less reassuring than the others. Nonetheless another good option to have when eating out.
Prezzo Vesuvio Pizza
Bella Italia
Bella Italia was the first gluten free pizza I had, back when it was pretty much the only option for eating out for gluten free pizza. It's a thin and crispy base but perhaps a bit too crispy. I think the competition has moved on a little and it will be interesting to see if Bella Italia make any changes. It's still a good pizza and as coeliacs will testify, it's great to now have multiple options!

I recently heard that Pizza Express are now trialling gluten free pizzas in a few of their restaurants. If you've tried one it would be great to hear from you. Hopefully these will be launched nationwide in the future. I've still not had chance to pick up the phone and order a Dominos yet either but when I do, I'll be sure to add it to the list! I've heard there are some great independent pizza restaurants which have gluten free options, particularly in London which I'm hoping to try in the future. Any predictions on what 2013 will bring to the gluten free market?

Update: Pizza Express

So were they saving the best until last? The Pizza Express gluten free experience has arrived. You can understand why they took their time - they wanted to do things right - great news for coeliacs. One of the difficulties pizza express had was the risk of airborne gluten when they were rolling their 'normal' bases. The launch of gluten free pizzas has brought about a total re-think and now the company uses gluten free flour to roll their 'normal' bases. Where others have missed a trick, Pizza Express has spotted it, a gluten free beer. It's a welcome addition to the menu and brings home the feeling of 'normality' even more for coeliacs up and down the country. There's a good range of toppings too and clear labelling. I went for a Gorgonzola,  leek and pancetta one which was a perfect combination. The base was excellent, good texture and more flavoursome than some of the competition. We couldn't leave without sampling the gluten free brownie. Brownie's have come under a bit of stick from the gluten free community due to being the gluten free pudding of choice for a lot of restaurants.  Pizza Express' was very good though, just dense and chocolatey enough and served with a tea or coffee of your choice. As a pizza lover, it's great to have another choice and another excellent pizza. Now they've ventured into the market hopefully Pizza Express can expand their offering  it would be great to have more variety in the starter and dessert department. Is it the best? Well, you'll have to be the judge of that!
The 'Da Moire' pizza at Pizza Express
Gluten Free Brownie at Pizza Express


  1. A great round up. We also tried Zizzi's (Ok base but not amazing), Domino's (very greasy), quite liked Prezzo's - are yet to try Ask's. Perhaps the big trend for 2013 will be more gluten free specific menus? That is as long as Coeliacs keep demanding choice & emailing restaurants.

  2. Excellent roundup, I agree with GFG on Domino's, although it's a good lazy boy alternative :) I need to try Ask now, didn't realise they did them! One you haven't mentioned that I'd recommend is Otto Pizza in Notting Hill (, like Prezzo they can't guarantee, but touch wood I've been OK every time I've visited. They do a cornmeal crust pizza, possibly an acquired taste, and nothing like the Italian style, but I like :)

  3. The Lauriston (Hackney), The Hanbury Arms and The Regent pubs (both Islington) do gluten free pizzas - they use our bases and add their own toppings to bake. They serve GF lager there too! Worth a try maybe... ;-)

  4. GfG - thanks for the comment. More gluten free specific menus would be great, perhaps more things cooked in separate fryers in 2013?
    Otto Pizza is definitely on my short list of places to go! I favourited a tweet from The Hanbury Arms too to remember to check it out. We go to London quite a lot so hopefully we will get to tick off some of these on the list. Would be great to have more independents like this in other cities serving great gluten free options but perhaps the demand isn't there yet?

  5. Mamma's American Pizza in Edinburgh does excellent gluten free pizzas. A must try for any coeliacs visiting the city!

  6. Thanks! That reminds me actually, I visited a place called Centotre in Edinburgh which did great gluten free pizzas, here's a link to the blog

  7. My coeliac wife recently discovered the Prezzo g-f pizza which she adored (9/10) and the Ask g-f pizza which she went overboard on! (10/10) Childishly excited at the prospect of going to a Pizza Hut which is something I thought we would never do again since she was diagnosed ten years ago!

  8. I would recommend Cotto's near Waterloo bridge, London the owner is coeliac and does gluten free warm bread on arrival and full menu of pizza pasta and a tiramisu to die for I never thought I would taste that again, often busy so good to book a table :o)

  9. Wow sounds great, definitely quite a few Italian places to try. I've also heard good things about Bruschetta in Kingston but not tried yet.

  10. Riccardo's Restaurant on the Fulham Road (SW3 6HU) do gluten-free pizza, pasta (they have 2 pasta boiler to avoid cross-contamination) and gluten-free Chocolate and Almond Cake. All ingredients are listed on the menu, so no suprises... I haven't tried the pizza, but looooove the Chocolate and Almond Cake