Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gluten Free Frozen Pizza Smackdown!

One of my first reactions upon being diagnosed with celiac was a slight freakout (Note: definition of "slight" may vary, depending on who you ask. Considering that, in my mind, I had just been told that I would never be able to eat anything that tasted good ever again, I would think crying out loud and preparing to make a bonfire of all of my previous wheat-containing cookbooks might qualify as slight, but then again, to each his own). Pizza had long been one of my favorite foods, and having grown up in New Jersey, I had access to really, really good pizza--using the kind of recipes that tiny octogenarian Italian ladies wrote into their will for the grandchildren, and would come chasing after you with a marble rolling pin if you ever tried to take. The thought of being deprived of it forever was too much to bear. So, one of my first forays into the gluten free world was to try every kind of gluten free pizza I could find. I knew nothing would ever come close to Starlight Pizza in West Orange, but if there was something even remotely passable, I could perhaps survive this celiac thing after all. Here are the brands I tried, and my reactions to them:

Amy's Natural Rice Crust Pizza:
This gluten free pizza was loathe at first sight. The cheese on top looked like melted plastic, and the bottom stuck to my pan. The texture was both chewy and grainy. To put it mildly, it was very disappointing, which surprised me considering how many other products by Amy's I really, really like. Their Indian and Mexican meals are top-notch, and the soups are delicious. But the pizza was a major letdown. Stars: *

Glutino Pizza Crusts:
These gluten free frozen pizza crusts allow you to choose your own toppings, which is a nice bonus if you like to get creative. They are personal size, so there is no need to really cut slices.
I found the texture to be either soft or crunchy, depending on how long they were baked. Often, I found that the outside was crispy, but the inside was underdone. The flavor was pretty good for gluten-free. My only real complaint was that the toppings had a tendency to slide off.
Stars: ** 1/2

Glutino Spinach and Feta, Four Cheese Pizzas:
Now this was good! Nice and crunchy texture, and plenty of spinach in the spinach version. It would never be a substitute for traditional Jersey pizza, but as far as frozen pizzas went, it was definitely a competitor to the gluten-containing counterparts. Stars: ***

Kinnikinnick Pizza:
I haven't been able to find this in stores to bring home and try on my own, but I had a sample at the New England Natural Products Expo, and it was quite good. Stars: ***

Better Bread Company Vegetable Pizza:
Wow. This was not even good for gluten free--this was just GOOD. It is a full-size pizza, rather than personal size, which brought me closer to the "real" pizza experience. The veggies were great, and just the right amount of sauce was used. The texture is crispy. Defnitely more expensive than the previously mentioned brands, but man, was it good. Even my husband would eat it without complaining, and for any of you who know him, that is saying quite a lot. Stars: ****

Brands I haven't tried yet, but would like to:
Foods by George

1 comment:

  1. Lauren -
    The Chebe herded crust is tasty - a nice combination of crunchy and chewy. **
    Foods by George is nice because it is an individual size. The sauce is mediocre, but the crust get nice and crunchy if you follow the cooking directions. I love to add a few toppings (like sauteed mushrooms, dried italian herbs, or fresh garlic) to spice it up.
    But my all time favorite is Against the Grain's pizza crust - a good size pie for you and a friend. You have to add your own toppings - but I like that better. It is crunchy on the outside and bottom - but has a great chewiness in the center. Hands down best GF crust I have had.
    Love your blog - happy to have found it!