The popularity of adding a gluten-free pizza to the menu may have you elated or shaking in your boots. Many restaurants are adding gluten free pizza to their repertoire of fancy pizzas, but how are they treating them and is there cross contamination and do they take that seriously? Here are a few questions to ask (probably during a slow time) to find out if that gluten-free pizza is really safe.
5. Which toppings are gluten free?
If they have a gluten free menu, then likely they are listed for you on there. But if they don’t you’re going to have to ask. And they should know the answer. When I interviewed Laura Hansen at Pizza Luce last spring, she said her kitchen managers have to review all of their order guides and ALL ingredients. At the time Hansen said, “This is very tedious for the Kitchen Manager, however it is valuable knowledge (they go through all their ingredients and look for hidden sources of gluten)”. Plus there are additional hours of training staff and kitchen prep. “…it’s not quick and we take it very seriously” Hansen said.
4. Do you use clean cutters and cutting board?
The answers should be yes! If the restaurant is doing a gluten-free pizza, they should have a dedicated area with separate utensils.
3. How do I know the pizza you’re giving me is indeed gluten free?
2. Does the staff seem educated?
If they don’t know what you’re talking about, either leave or talk to the manager. Sometimes a gluten-free item is added and the wait staff knows nothing about it. Which doesn’t sound like a great way of doing things. But it can happen! Knowledgeable staff is a great way to promote for restaurants to promote their gluten-free pizza or menu.
1. Are they using the same sauce (and spoon or ladle) on the gluten-free pizza and the others too?
This could be cross contamination at the very beginning. They go to the trouble of buying gluten free crusts, but then mess it up with sauce and ladle that have been cross contaminated by spreading it onto other gluteny crusts. This is a restaurant that doesn’t understand gluten-free. Yes there’s one out there right now.
The Tavern Grill in Blaine, Minnesota. I talked with them recently and they said they use the same sauce and ladle on the gluten-free and gluteny pizza crusts. They said they can do it with clean sauce and utensils but you need to ask for it. I explained to them that what they’re doing by promoting gluten-free pizza and then not ensuring it is as gluten free as possible, is not right. I said “Anyone who is coming in here to get a gluten-free pizza is not going to know to ask for fresh sauce!” (Okay there might be some people, but that’s not the point). They did tell me they use a separate cutter, use fresh gloves on the toppings and a separate area to bake it in the oven. But alas, no separate sauce. The person I talked to said they would take my recommendations under consideration. I hope they change for the better!!!!!
So I just recommend to tread cautiously when getting a gluten-free pizza — not all of them are as gluten-free as the others. If you have additional tips, feel free to add them in the comments below!