Pizza is probably America's favorite default dinner, but it's a dish that a lot of people take for granted. When the average person is hungry, it's easy to call a favorite delivery place or walk down to a local pizzeria to grab a slice. Pizza is cheap, portable, incredibly savory, and seems to have an eternal half-life when left on a unrefrigerated countertop. It makes sense that it claims the position as America's favorite food.
But what if you can't eat the primary component of pizza, the part on which all savory toppings rely -- the crust? For decades, gluten-free folk were out of luck. Aside from making any number of pizza-like concoctions at home, it was all but impossible to order for delivery or find a sit-down place where you could enjoy a pie with your friends. Pizza, as heartbreaking as it sounds, was off limits. Serious fail.
GLUTEN-FREE PIZZA PLACES AROUND THE BAY AREA
I know I keep saying how lucky we are to live in the Bay Area, where a huge variety of gluten-free options are available to everyone. We live in a place where, on a moment's notice, anyone with a gluten-free constitution can get an allergy-friendly baguette at a local bakery and cupcakes at the supermarkets. So what about pizza? Thankfully, we have many awesome pizzerias around the San Francisco Bay that serve up a dish so good, so dripping with ooey-gooey mozzarella and fresh pepperoni, that you've never miss regular, gluten-laden pizza again. Here are a few of my favorite places.
Moraga: Pennini's Ristorante Italiano
Pennini's Ristorante Italiano is tucked away in the Rheem Valley area of Moraga, a town hidden on the south side of Highway 24, halfway between Oakland and Concord. I visited Pannini's with a friend who used to live nearby. He claimed to have found the best gluten-free pizza on the face of the planet, and me being the suspicious foodie that I am, I scoffed. That night we visited the restaurant, and I was shocked to find a pizza crust that rivaled most regular pizzas that I've eaten in my life. The soft, thin crust was filled with a perfectly stretchy mozzarella cheese and a ton of spicy pepperoni. Suffice it to say, this has become one of my favorite pizza places. Note: Last I heard they were planning on carrying gluten-free beer, though I can't say for sure if they sell it at the moment.
Pennini's Ristorante Italiano
1375 Moraga Way, Suite D
Moraga, CA 94556
Oakland: Pizza Rustica
Pizza Rustica in Oakland is a favorite place of mine, mostly because they deliver gluten-free pizza right to my house. They use crusts made by Patti Furey Crane over at Oakland's Mariposa Baking Company, another East Bay gluten-free business. While Rustica offers your standard pizza flavors -- margherita, meat lovers, and straight cheese -- you'll also find a delightfully creative selection of pizzas that you've probably never tried before:
- Salsiccia: Fresh house-made Italian fennel sausage, garlic, house-made tomato sauce
- Capricciosa: Smoked lean ham, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted garlic, Kalamata olives, Roma tomatoes
- Hellenic: Tomatoes, roasted eggplant, Kalamata olives, feta and garlic
- Carnivore: Molinari Pepperoni, house-made Italian fennel sausage, pancetta, spicy cajun sausage, garlic and tomato sauce
Really, how could you go wrong with toppings like that?
5422 College Ave
Oakland, CA 94618
San Francisco: Eagle Pizzeria
If you're in San Francisco and you're looking for a quaint little sit-down pizzeria, check out Eagle Pizzeria in the Sunset. A recent convert to the gluten-free army, the owners of Eagle are intent of offering some of the best gluten-free pizza in SF. With a solid lineup of toppings and a fanatical neighborhood following, Eagle Pizzeria is sure to sate that reptilian PIZZA-NOW urge that has become a huge part of American physiology.
1712 Taraval Street
San Francisco, CA 94116
All Over: Amici's East Coast Pizzeria
Being a fan of paper-thin crust on my pizza, I always missed dining at Amici's Pizza once I learned that I was unable to eat gluten. Then, last year, a friend informed me that they started making a gluten-free pizza that very closely resembled their regular pie. I jumped at the chance and headed down to their Menlo Park location that very night, and was stoked to find that indeed, their gluten-free pizza was just as good as the regular Amici's offerings I'd grown to love.
With several locations throughout the Bay Area that span the South Bay, North Bay, East Bay, Peninsula, and San Francisco, there's no doubt that you live within a half-hour drive of one of their shops. While many of their locations already carry the gluten-free menu, some are still implementing the change -- so I recommend you call ahead of time to make sure your local Amici's can meet your dietary requirements.
Amici's East Coast Pizzeria Locations
- Menlo Park
- Mountain View
- Redwood Shores
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- San Mateo
- San Rafael
- Complete list of Bay Area locations
Make it at Home!
If you're interested in making your own gluten-free pizza at home, locals will tell you that the best prepared pizza crusts come from Oakland's Mariposa Baking Company. They sell crusts frozen in packs of two, and they slip easily into a freezer for future nomming. Mariposa Baking also sells pizza by the slice for lunch, with a wide variety of exciting configurations that change by the day. If you're in Oakland and miss those days when you could just pop into a pizza place for a quick slice, I highly recommend stopping by -- and grabbing a handful of the bakery's other goodies, such as brownies, cupcakes, and coconut lemon bars. It's gluten-free heaven, I tell ya!