Gourmet Pizza & Salad
Sedona, Tempe, Scottsdale, and Flagstaff, AZ
Imagine the best gourmet pizza restaurant in your area deciding to cater extensively to gluten-free patrons. This is the situation in Arizona at Picazzo’s, "where pizza is art." The instigator was a man in Sedona, with the real name of Tom Sawyer, who was diagnosed with celiac disease. Tom missed his pizza, began experimenting with flour mixes, and then with determination, in March 2005, approached the owner of Picazzo’s, Dennis Daniel, to help him.
Daniel empathetically listened to Sawyer explain the gluten situation; how many people are sickened by it and therefore are deprived of eating a regular pizza. Together they designed a gluten-free crust that met Picazzo’s high standard of taste and texture. To test the market for this unique pizza, Picazzo’s had a free gluten-free pizza day in June 2005. Was there a market? The Tempe location served 500 grateful people on Saturday and over 300 on Sunday. Daniel was impressed by the emotional reactions of many of the guests who either cried tears of joy or hugged him.
At this point, Daniel was determined to dive in 100% to serve these customers, so he hired a nutritionist. Every label on every product was meticulously examined for gluten, including the liquor. He told me, "I have to do this better than anyone else has ever done." Since Picazzo’s makes everything but two dishes from scratch, only about twelve ingredients were questionable until the suppliers came through with more information.
Picazzo’s now has a complete three page gluten-free menu which includes their beautiful award-winning salads served with gluten-free flatbreads, huge garlic cheese breads, chicken wings (yes, chicken wings!), thirty-eight different pizzas (not including the endless variety of options in their "create your own pizza" section, including homemade italian sausage), along with cheesecake. They also have a large page devoted to drinks featuring premium gluten-free liquors. All of the gluten-free beers are available at no profit because of shipping costs, but it’s worth it for Daniel to go this extra length for his customers. All of this AND an extensive international and domestic wine list.
Everything is orchestrated to ensure there is no cross-comtamination. Your order is stamped GF as soon as it is brought to the kitchen. The person in charge of creating your meal folds down his apron to expose the clean underside and changes gloves. Pre-made dough is taken out of a bag and the crust is formed beneath plastic wrap. Then your pie is put into its own separate oven which is used only for gluten-free orders. Even salad dressing and condiment containers are color coded to ensure your safety.
Daniel has received thousands of feedback cards and I could tell he notes and appreciates each and every one of his customer’s comments. Now recognized by the Celiac Sprue Association, Picazzo’s four locations each sell between 150-200 gluten-free pizzas a week. At Picazzo’s, they are not only artisans of pizza, but they are masters of over-the-top customer service.