When temperatures reached unprecedented, record-breaking levels last week, we ditched our non-air-conditioned cottage in favour of cooler quarters for the day. After a morning of mall-walking and 5 pin bowling with the little ones, we picked a Boston Pizza for our lunch stop. I knew that they offered a gluten free pizza option and I wanted to try it out. Several places have been popping up with gluten free crusts lately, and while those I've tried have been edible, I haven't really fallen in love with any of them. Neither has my son. Most of the time the crust is too tough for his little two year old mouth to bite down on and chew comfortably. I hoped that Boston Pizza's option would be better.
We visited the Boston Pizza in Cobourg, Ontario, at lunch time on a Thursday. I asked the greeter about the gluten free pizza, and he was knowledgeable and able to answer all of our questions. Once we were seated, I also asked the waitress about the preparation methods of not only the pizza, but of other menu items as well. My niece was ordering french fries, and I wanted to know if they were fried in the same oil used to fry breaded items in case my son decided he wanted to try a few. I was surprised by how much information she was able to provide about which items on the menu were safe for my son and which were not. The fries are not, by the way.
It's not uncommon to encounter wait staff who can recite the menu items from memory, but who have no idea how the food is actually prepared or what ingredients go into them. Candice from Boston Pizza is not one of those employees. She was friendly, patient, and understood the potential for cross-contamination. She put my concerns about cross-contamination to rest.
The gluten free pizza is only available in the personal pizza size, and our waitress was able to tell us which toppings were gluten free. Since we had to order the personal pizza, we couldn't get my son the kids lunch special which included a drink and dessert. Our waitress provided our son with a gluten and dairy free dessert free of charge instead without being asked.
Since our son is also dairy free, I ordered him a gluten free crust with extra sauce, pepperoni and green olives. I'm not posting the photo because I don't think the picture I took does the pizza justice, especially devoid of cheese!
How was it?
Delicious! The crust was the best gluten free pizza crust I've tasted to date. For those who love a thin crust it might be a little too thick, but for people like me who don't mind a thicker crust, it was delightful. Thankfully my son didn't mind me taking a few bites! Most importantly, it was flavourful and not hard as a piece of cardboard. My son bit into it easily, and really enjoyed it. After eating all of the olives off the top one by one, that is!
Paired with a salad or another side dish, this pizza would make a satisfying meal for most people. Big eaters might find the pizza a bit on the small size. I always find Boston Pizza's tomato sauce a bit too salty, but that's a complaint I have about most commercial tomato sauces. I'm used to making my own, so I'm a little picky.
The downside? It's only currently available as a personal size pizza. I'm not sure why this is. Perhaps it's a pre-made frozen crust (although it didn't taste like it) or maybe it's a trial item to see how much demand there is for the product. Either way, it would be nice to see the option expanded to include all pizza sizes. Everyone at the table got a little taste of my tester slice, and agreed that the crust had a good flavour and that they would have no problem ordering a larger size to share.
Verdict: The best commercial gluten free pizza I've tried yet. The crust held up well to the extra sauce, but wasn't too tough to bite through easily and had a flavour that was pretty close to that of a traditional crust, although with a little bit of sweetness that may or may not appeal to everyone. I liked it.
We don't eat at chain restaurants very often, but it's great to know which one's are safe for us to visit. Especially when we're traveling, chains are often quick and easy choices on the road or in unfamiliar towns. In Cobourg, near the mall, there were three choices: a Chinese Buffet, an A & P, and Boston Pizza. Being confident that Boston Pizza had at least one safe menu option for my son made the decision easy for us.
My wish? That the pizza line be expanded to all size options. And a few gluten free pasta options would be nice too. Please?