Product Reviews, Restaurant Reviews and Recipes: All GLUTEN FREE!
Pizza Express have been making pizza since 1965 when Peter Boizot opened his first restaurant in Wardour Street, Soho London, after he had brought back a Pizza Oven from Naples and a Chef from Sicily. The current brand identity was rolled out in 2011 when they had a major refresh and GLUTEN FREE first appeared in 2013 with a significant change to cooking practices (such as using GLUTEN FREE flour to dust their preparation benches in order to minimise cross-contamination) as well as using separate utensils for GLUTEN FREE customers and Coeliacs.
The range of GLUTEN FREE options has grown every season with the addition of Risottos (which ought to be GLUTEN FREE) as well new desserts and even a GLUTEN FREE beer. On their website they proudly state “And we’ve introduced gluten-free Classic and Piccolo pizza bases, so all of our pizza recipes can now be enjoyed, gluten-free. In addition, any of our salads can be made gluten-free by removing dough sticks or croutons. (But please speak to a team member about the ingredients of any seasonal specials, as these may vary)
We’ve worked hard to ensure that you can be fully confident of no issues upon entering any Pizza Express. This includes changing processes in our kitchens – including labelling and storage, using new equipment only for gluten-free food, as well as changing the flour we use for tossing and stretching our dough to be gluten-free. Coeliac UK have awarded us with their gluten-free accreditation due to these changes and to put your mind at rest. “
So in the 2016 Spring Menu, they’ve added GLUTEN FREE DOUGH BALLS! Yes, they’ve developed a GLUTEN FREE version of their popular starter which means alongside their Pizzas and Risottos and desserts, you can now have a full meal at their restaurants and these are available for takeaway.
My Dough Balls were sealed with a “NGCI” No GLUTEN CONTAINING INGREDIENTS sticker which reassured me further that they understand the seriousness of ingredients in their food.
5 GLUTEN FREE Dough Balls from Pizza Express
Immediately when I got home, I opened the box and found the Dough Balls reminded me of the Brazilian Bread Rolls (Pao de Queijo) which have a similar light colour. These were still warm (not boiling hot but then it’s a ten-minute walk from the restaurant) and a plastic pot of garlic butter. These are quite hard with a flaky crunchy crust but surprisingly, when you open them with a knife, they are light and airy (and not hollow like some of the Pao de Queijo).
These are a great starter: not quite as dark on the plate as they first appeared (perhaps they needed just a few more minutes in the oven to be golden) but they were really airy as bread balls go. The butter didn’t melt so I popped one in the Microwave for a few seconds and it did:
Such a lush starter, it’s a shame they only have five in a pack! And whilst I was at Pizza Express, I ordered a GLUTEN FREE Pizza from their Spring Menu:
This was off their new Spring Menu and had a really light topping with some really unusual flavours: the sweetness from sultanas to the saltiness of the Capers, the crunch of the Pine kernels to the softness of the red onions and the wholeness of black olives. A good tasty GLUTEN FREE Pizza although the base never seems to be firm and crunchy (always seems a little soft in-comparison to home oven-cooked pizzas).
Previous visits to Pizza Express have been blogged and I’ve commented on the Emilia Pizza when it was introduced on their Summer 2014 Menu, their Peppered Salmon Risotto (which makes a return on the Spring Menu), a Padana Pizza, an Americano Pizza, another Padana Pizza
If you are a member of Coeliac UK, they produce a comprehensive directory which covers over 16,000 food and drink items (including GLUTEN FREE Chocolate Bars). This is available in a paper-based Manual and online FREE to members of Coeliac UK. They have also published an Easter listing (although it is not as visually EGG-citing as my posts and excludes many of the included Chocolatiers, High Street stores and London Department Store Easter Eggs covered in my posts).
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This information was correct as of March 2016.
But as I am learning, ingredients do change and therefore you should always read the label and check for yourself whether it is GLUTEN FREE or not!