38 East 23rd Street
between Park & Madison
11-8 p.m., Monday-Friday
We caught wind of this new place serving gf pizza on the celiac meetups message board. I must admit, I’m always a bit skeptical when I’m about to try new gf pie. Pizza and pasta in our celiac world is a challenge to get right. My Italian mother-in-law, every week, adds to her huge Sunday feast menu a specially made delicious gf pasta dish just for me – which has led me to believe that creating good gf Italian food requires love and passion. But, as I tasted the first mega-delicious bite of the gf brick oven pizza at Mozzarelli’s, I knew we had found passionately prepared pizza.
Mozzarelli’s pretty much looks like your classic NY pizza joint; long and narrow, brightly lit, with limited seating. But inside you’ll find chef Ron, who has developed possibly the perfect gf pizza pie crust using a specific ratio of various gf flours. This is our opinion, of course. We’ve learned from plenty of feedback under postings of gf pizza news, that everybody’s got their idea of the perfect pie crust. I like all types if done well, but my favorite is not too thin/not too thick, crunchy on the outside, light and doughy/yeasty on the inside, which is exactly how I’d describe Ron’s. I also tasted a wonderful herb-y flavor in the crust, which made it even more perfect.
There is always an extra yummy ending to the story where a chef or grandma enthusiastically takes up the challenge to create the perfect gf version of a food that a celiac loved one can no longer eat. Ron has a celiac niece, and she is the reason we all get to enjoy his special pizza. Here are some facts: Ron’s secret flour mixture (we can confirm sorghum and bean are involved) is prepared in a separate area of the kitchen with dedicated utensils and containers. Even though plenty of care is taken to avoid cross-contamination, glutenous pies ARE prepared in the same kitchen. However, there is NO flour whatsoever behind the service counter, so the by-the-slice gf pie on display is safe from airborne wheat flour. Kelly was super psyched when Ron told us he could accomodate her with a corn-free/dairy-free version of his gf pizza, which she declared was delicious. I could barely tell the difference. He can do this for you too; just call ahead and give him at least a day to prepare.
During the busy lunch hours at Mozzarelli’s, there are gf pizza slices on display, ready to heat and eat. However, if you’re planning to go late afternoon/evening, it would be a good idea to give them a call to check for slice availability. They keep partially baked gf crusts in the back, which can be ready to eat by the time you get there. Or, call to preorder an entire pie with toppings of your choice! I took my pie home and reheated pieces for days … a few minutes in the toaster oven brought crispy life back into that perfect crust.
More cool stuff about Ron and his pizza. If you get to meet him, you’ll immediately see what I’m talking about when I say he’s enthusiastic and passionate about what he does. He never stopped smiling, eyes bright, while telling us stories from his self education about celiac to his gf dough experimentation adventures. Ron also enjoys sharing his knowledge of the science of food and health through a newsletter he writes, where customers can learn about the importance of whole grains and the evils of bromated flour; a flour additive and known carcinogen that has been banned in Europe – but not yet in the USA. Thank goodness, by eating gluten free, we don’t have to worry about yucky bromate! And your glutenous friends will thank you for bringing them to Mozzarelli’s for safe and healthy pizza pie! We weren’t surprised to hear that some of Ron’s health-conscious non-celiac customers prefer gf pizza for the extra protein, and love the taste.
So run, don’t walk, to Mozzarelli’s. You don’t have to travel very far for the comfort food we’re most passionate about; pizza.
DC readers are reminded that the NFCA cooking spree is this Friday May 4th!