It’s 9:30 PM on a Tuesday night, I’ve had a few brews and I’m jamming out in my office to NewRetroWave, and craving pizza. There’s plenty of options for a gluten-freek like myself to get a pizza pie that won’t kill me. Streets of New York, Sauce, Cibo, Woodfired Pies, Rosatis, Humble Pie, and even if I want to feel trashy I can order Pizza Hut featuring Udi’s brand crust.
Rosati’s has a classically delicious GF pizza in terms of toppings. The sauce isn’t overbearing, and if you get pepperoni, they form into those delicious little greaseball cups. But Rosati’s, like most places, uses this pre-made GF thin crust. And you have to put out around 16 bucks to get a 10” pizza with two toppings delivered. Kind of pricey for a personal pizza on mediocre crust.
Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and Papa John’s all have GF pizza now. Again, you can spend 15-20 bucks creating your pizza masterpiece, only for it to arrive on that same craptacular thin crust that everyplace gets away with using.
Cibo is probably the most delicious GF pizza in Phoenix. They use a real, in house made thick as thieves delicious crust. They’ve got fresh toppings and gourmet menu choices. I could eat only their mixed veggie platter and leave mildly happy. The ambiance of the restaurant’s patio and quaintness of the interior makes for an enjoyable dining experience… If you’re on a date. Cibo in all it’s glory stacks up with a relatively high price tag, one that should be experienced with a significant other.
But if you’re like me, you’re craving classic Vennezia’s. Long thick slices that you fold in half to stuff it down your gullet, all while washing it down with a cheap beer and using the back of your sleeve for a napkin. Sometimes I want all the gourmet frills that Cibo can offer me, I can usually con my wife into taking me for my birthday every year. But sometimes, I want to pick up the pizza box and feel it sweat with grease.
So, here it is. The best pizza you can find in Phoenix:
That’s right, you’re going to have to make it in your own kitchen. As someone that finds myself on multiple pizza whims a week, I always keep a dozen or so bags of the Redmill GF pizza mix. Partially because if there is some horrible social collapse, the luxury and entitlement I have toward my food allergy will no longer be shared by the service industry. Secondly, I just love staring into ol’ Bob Moore’s dreamy serial killer glasses. Seriously, the guy makes a ton of GF baking products, but looks like someone you’d find doing coke on a Santa Fe golf course, making thinly-veiled passes at your teenage daughter.
Here’s a list of the other things you’ll need:
Olive oil 2 Tbsp
Can of diced tomatoes
Apple cider or white vinegar
You can find the mix at Fry’s for about three bucks.If you get the bare minimum on all of these ingredients, you can usually get out of the store for under 20 bucks. The package from Bob’s Red Mill has some basic instructions for cooking a pizza. Bob doesn’t really mince words though, he lets his pizza do the talking instead. Here’s an updated set of instructions that uses a couple tips and tricks.
- In a large bowl, combine 1.5 cups of warm water and the Bob’s yeast package. Let the yeast do it’s thing for about five minutes. In the meantime, watch “Holy Diver” by Dio on Youtube.
- Throw in the two eggs and 2 Tbsp of olive oil and beat it up.
- Pour in the pizza crust mix and use a rubber spoon to mix it up. This is where the love comes in. Take some cornstarch in hand and use it to form the crust into a ball. It’s important to use your hands in this step so that the love comes off (always wash your hands before and after cooking, you don’t want too much love in the mix).
- Dump a little extra cornstarch on top of the ball and pour a dollop of olive oil on top also. Then cover your bowl with some plastic wrap and command it to rise for at least thirty minutes. If you need inspiration for some dough rising music I recommend “Awaken” by Dethklok.
- While the pizza is rising, and in between air guitar solos, this is when you want to make your sauce. Dump the can of tomatoes into a saucepan on low heat, throw in a tspn of vinegar, Basil, pepper, and enough salt to keep Laurie Notaro happy. Let that puppy simmer until the crust is ready. (If you want, you can use an immersion blender to blend up the tomatoes, but try it with the extra chunky tomatoes and you’ll be pleasantly surprised)
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Open up the bowl containing your pizza ball and split it down the middle. Put each half of the ball onto two different baking sheets. Use more cornstarch to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or a rolling pin. Proceed to roll out the dough into a pizza shape.
- (Optional) You can cover each of the baking sheets with plastic wrap and let them rise again. I’ve done this in the past and the crust comes out a little less dense. But that also means headbanging to Dethklok for another 20-30 minutes.
- Remove any and all plastic wrap and bake both of the nude pizza crusts in the oven for 7 minutes.
- Take out the crusts and throw your homemade sauce down. Next, is the first layer of cheese. If you’ve ever worked in a pizza joint, you know that the best pizza is made with at least two layers of cheese.
- Now throw on your toppings. For example sake, I made one pizza Hawaiian style, which is ham and pineapple. There is apparently some great debate over the ethics of Hawaiian pizza. If you have time to argue about that, then you’ve got time to come up with your own pizza recipe.
- For the second pizza, I recommend a classic pepperoni and sliced jalapeno.
- (Optional) Open your refrigerator and look for anything else you could throw on these pizzas. Jar of olives, yep. Deli turkey, throw it on. Your roommate’s fancy cheese that he was saving for date night, boom, pizza topping.
- Top cheese those sweet pizza animals and throw them in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Here’s a little known secret from the pizza industry. When you take the pizza out of the oven, let it sit for 5-10 minutes. If you cut right away, you’re going to split the cheese apart and you’ll have sad looking sauce bread, while your pizza cutter basks in cheesy glory.
On the subject of gluten free, I count myself hashtag blessed that I get to live in a world where I can eat GF in some way from almost any restaurant, I can have a beer or cider most places, and all without having to feel like a run-over dead bird on the freeway. So, thank you, to the restaurants, industry workers, bartenders, and servers that have made this possible. It isn’t said enough.