As mock life coach and YouTube comedian JP Sears observes, “Being gluten-intolerant is the hottest trend in the New Age community since we found out you don’t have to eat animals. Gluten is the new animal you don’t have to eat.”
The gluten-free diet is hot. What could be the most popular fad diet since Atkins doesn’t appear to be going away soon. In addition to those with diagnosed celiac disease and wheat allergies, who understandably eschew wheat, many others are opting to cut bread in all its forms and expecting dinner parties and restaurants to offer alternative options.
The claimed health benefits of nixing the byproduct of wheat, barley and rye are far-reaching. The gluten-averse claim increased energy, diminished belly fat, better digestion, a lift in brain fog and even help with depression.
Pulling off palatable gluten-free replicas of bread, muffins and cakes can be challenging. The worst examples leave people feeling like they’ve just chomped on blocks of sawdust. But other foods lend themselves to easier reproduction — like pizza. Since thin crust pizzas bypass the moist, spongy texture required of other breads, some gluten-free pizzas are indiscernible from their counterparts. In truth, even a cracker topped with melted cheese and sausage is delicious.
Whether you're gluten-free or just looking to try an outside-the-box pizza crust, here are DFW’s best places to eat the world’s most popular cheese-covered bread, sans wheat.
Pie Tap Pizza Workshop
1212 Oak Lawn Ave. (Design District) and 2708 N. Henderson Ave. (Vickery Place/Knox-Henderson)
Although it no longer delivers a six-pack of brews or a bottle of wine to your door as when it first opened, Pie Tap Pizza Workshop & Bar still makes the word “workshop” exciting. Creator Rich Hicks, who gave us Mooyah and Tin Star, was smart enough to draw on local specialists such as Katherine Clapner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate and Gabe Sanchez of Black Swan when creating his menu. He’s also smart enough to know that when people go to a pizza workshop, they’re going to want a gluten-free option.
Pie Tap calls the tapioca and almond flour crust its “gluten-friendly” alternative since it can’t guarantee that cross-contamination hasn’t occurred — a nice consideration for those with severe allergies. The thin crust that costs an additional $3 is a bit on the sweet side, but the veggie and salami pizzas that come with zesty Calabrian peppers can abate that.
1005 S. Lamar St. (The Cedars); 6770 Abrams Road (Lake Highlands); 100 S. Central Expressway, Richardson; 320 W. Las Colinas Blvd., Irving; Interstate 35 and Highway 380, Denton; and 8380 Davis Blvd., North Richland Hills
Of course this cool Austin transplant offers the pinnacle of gluten-free pizza options: the cauliflower crust. Instead of eating rare, exotic grains you couldn’t identify in a lineup, like amaranth, have a crust that’s made of something you recognize.
Covering cauliflower in cheese is a trick mothers have been using for decades, after all. The crust will set you back an additional $2, but lying almost horizontal in a theater where you know there won’t be cellphone interruptions is priceless. Uncommon toppings include the squash and goat cheese with basil and Roma tomatoes, or for carnivores, the Brussels sprouts and bacon with goat cheese and four other cheeses. Perhaps the reclining position will help make room for a hot dog or hamburger on a gluten-free bun, also on the menu.
5855 Maple Ave. (Oak Lawn)
This newly opened pizzeria on Maple Avenue is popular with nearby hospital employees and anyone else who’s lucky enough to stumble upon it. The owners of State & Allen have renovated the space, an old pet and farm supply warehouse, into what they hope will become Dallas’ first restaurant to earn three stars from the Green Restaurant Association. By using electric ovens and biodegradable materials when possible, Social Pie is part of a growing Dallas movement to clean up restaurant waste.
In addition to being kind to Mother Earth, Social Pie also gives back to the community by contributing a portion of all pizza sales to local charities that customers choose by voting with a bottle cap given upon purchase. The gluten-free crust, a combination of tapioca, amaranth, sorghum and teff flours, costs an additional $5 but tastes similar to the real thing, and remember — charity. Go for gluten-free breakfast pizza and a carafe of mimosas for $25 during weekend brunch and watch tiny planes land at Love Field from Social Pie's breezy patio.
This nationwide pizza chain that churns out unlimited-topping personal pizzas in five minutes or less now has two gluten-free pizza options: a rice flour crust (+ $2) and a cauliflower crust (+ $2.50). After a stint as a limited-time offering, the cauliflower crust was recently added as a permanent menu item after the company claims it sold out across the country. We found it’s a popular lunchtime spot laid out like a Subway assembly line, where customers point to their sauce, cheeses, meats, and veggies before going on the oven’s conveyor belt.
This may be the most generic of places on this list, but Pie Five’s alternative crusts are reaching a wide and perhaps unlikely audience. During our visit, we overheard a man in Wranglers talking about retirement and the imperceptibility of cauliflower in his low-carb crust. If saving for retirement is a topic that’s also on your mind, go on Magic Monday when all pizzas have a base price of $5.55.
My Family’s Pizza
1915 Skillman St. (Lakewood) and 10720 Preston Road (Preston Hollow)
The original My Family’s Pizza began as Pizza by Marco in 1956. It is still in the same Preston Oaks shopping center, operated today by Marco’s son, Frank Nuccio, and there's another franchise location in Lakewood. The brand originally known for thin-crust pizzas and Frank's grandmother’s red sauce is now getting a reputation for vegan and gluten-free pizzas that include free delivery within a five-mile radius.
The 10-inch gluten-free crust (an additional $2) is composed of rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch, and the whole wheat vegan crust (an additional $2) is mixed in house with coconut milk. Vegan cheese and meats along with organic chicken toppings tempt diet-conscientious eaters, as does the popular caramelized, roasted pecan salad with plenty of blue cheese. The locations vary slightly with highlights of their own: Nuccio has installed a reverse osmosis filtration system at his location while Lakewood’s owner, Troy Swinson, offers gluten-free penne pasta and a gluten-free chocolate chip brownie he swears tastes as good as the real thing.
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4005 Preston Road, Plano, and 1151 E. Southlake Blvd., Southlake
Perhaps you enjoy a bottle of gluten-free Omission lager and some live music while you eat pizza. Taverna Rossa advertises craft pizzas and beers, and its crust made of millet, potato flour and rice flour will only set you back one extra dollar. The toppings on your craft pizza might include local ingredients such as tomatoes from Lemley’s Farm, sausages from Brian Luscher, or brisket or bacon from Hamm’s Custom Meats. The 13-inch crust is larger than many of the offerings on this list and is probably the most successful forgery of the original flour and yeast crust we tried. Unlike all other places on this list, Taverna Rossa makes its crust in house using dedicated utensils. The kitchen still works with wheat, of course, but if you don’t have celiac disease, this is the place to pork out.
3028 N. Hall St. (Uptown) and 6807 W. Northwest Highway (Park Cities)
In that shaded corner behind the Uptown Bread Winners parking lot is the second site of Mimi’s Pizzeria. It’s about two years old; the original Park Cities location opened in 2011. Owner Mimi Ahmedi’s father, Joe, moved to the Dallas area from Brooklyn 20 years ago. He’s the Joe behind the nine Joe’s Pizza and Pasta locations scattered throughout DFW. Mimi’s red sauce comes from a family recipe, too, and its no-upcharge dough comes from Venice Bakery, a large vegan and gluten-free bread distributor in California. The pleasantly crispy crusts, made primarily of rice flour, come in 10-inch and 14-inch sizes and don’t cost a dime more than the regular New York pies — a nice benefit for those tired of paying extra for what can be an expensive diet.
3900 Cedar Springs Road (Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs)
It turns out that Sfuzzi’s frozen, moonshine-strength bellinis pair excellently with gluten-free pizza. In December, Robert Colombo opened Peasant Pizzeria on a Cedar Springs corner after selling Sfuzzi and taking a break. He kept many of the things that made Sfuzzi great: meatballs, artichoke pizza, bellinis. The 14 pizzas on the new Peasant menu got an upgrade with consultations from pizza industry godfathers Mario Batali and Chris Bianco. We’re hoping for longevity here in what has been a historically short-lived space because, in addition to the lunch and dinner pizzas, there are also weekend brunch pizzas that also probably taste great with bellinis. Any of the creative pizzas — clam, charred artichoke, fennel sausage — can be ordered with a gluten-free cauliflower crust for $3 extra.