Davanni’s just announced it will be serving gluten-free pizza at two of it’s Twin Cities locations as a test to see if they want to expand it to other stores.  I want to say Yay!!  But I have a few concerns…

I got an announcement from Davanni’s late Monday saying you ou can find the gluten-free pizzas right now at  the Plymouth location on Fernbrook and Highway 55 (just west of I-494) and at it’s East Side shop  at I-94 and White Bear Avenue.

The gluten-free pizza is a 10″ crust option will be available all day every day at the Plymouth and East Side restaurants only. The price of for a 10” Cheese Pizza is $10.99, with just $1.32 for each additional topping.  The announcement didn’t address which toppings are gluten free. But they did address some cross contamination concerns:

“We will be taking every precaution to avoid cross contamination. For example, when making these gluten-free pizzas, we will pre-clean the pie bar and use clean bowls, ladles and cutters. The pizza will be make and baked on a 12″ X 12″ foil sheet to further protect them from any flour contact. If there is interest (and sales confirm this), we could roll out a gluten-free pizza crust to other shops in the near future. ” – Tim Huberty, Davanni’s “Marketing Guy”

The statement didn’t mention education of service folks on gluten-free options (when dealing with us), or how the toppings are being protected from cross contamination.  I emailed those questions and hope to get an answer soon — in which case I will update that here. Update from Davanni’s Nutritionish Ken Schelper:

“We have put together kits for use in preparing gluten-free orders. These kits contain all of the utensils necessary to prepare gluten-free pizzas. Everything in these bins will have been freshly washed and the bins/kits kept covered. Each time one is opened and used, it will be restocked using a clean bin and utensils. These GF kits have the handling instructions taped to the lid for reference and to use as a checklist each time we make a GF pizza….

All of our pizza toppings are gluten-free, so that eliminates an area of concern and provides more choices for our GF customers. We want our managers taking all allergen/sensitivity orders and overseeing their preparation. They have been trained on what cross-contact is and how to prevent it… As you can see in our handling instructions, all gluten-free pizzas are to be topped using only fresh ingredients from covered bins, that have never been out on our pizza bar and of course applied only after washing hands.”

In their announcement, Davanni’s went on to explain they have other gluten-free options on their menu at other stores and that you can find it all on their website. They have salads and bunless sandwiches.

I do have three tips for Davanni’s here, offer an option to make your bunless sandwiches into lettuce wraps so it is more sandwich-like (and I hope you have strong cross contamination standards here too), you’ll want to update your Allergen PDF that currently says:

Items you can’t eat include:

Pizza crusts

And instead  add information on your two locations that offer the crust.

And finally, anyone who has celiac disease or a gluten-sensitivity knows that Rice Krispie Bars are off the table.  You shouldn’t include them in your gluten free menu (even with your disclaimer saying it has a “small amount of malt flavoring, made from barley”).  Would you say on the  vegetarian menu that a product only has a “little” meat in it??  Not trying to be insulting here– but I am trying to offer constructive criticism.

Good Luck Davanni’s — I hope you do this right!  You make good pizzas and it would be nice to have another gluten-free option available in the Twin Cities area.

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