One of the things I worried about before moving to Santa Cruz was adjusting to living in a much smaller city than I was accustomed to. Albany, for all its faults, does have a lot of good qualities going for it too, and I think it’s status as a center of government behooves it in some ways. (In others, well, not so much, but that’s a different story.) And then of course, I went to Chicago, which is one of the biggest cities in the U.S. and had tons of GF options to fill my belly with. So I was apprehensive that in Santa Cruz, I might not be able to find, say, non-frozen gluten-free pizza. Well color me surprised, but there are far more options available than I’d expected.
- Tony and Alba’s gluten-free pizza – This was the first GF pie I had locally and after last night’s takeout, I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite. There are, I believe, six locations in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, making this arguably the most convenient choice. It’s a thin crust pizza, which I think is smart because it saves it from getting that gummy texture many thicker GF pies suffer from. It’s one of the better approximations I’ve ever had, in fact. Sadly, like many GF pies, it doesn’t come cheap – $16.99 gets you a plain, 10-inch pie. Toppings are extra and even with homemade arugula salads on the side, BK and I easily destroyed a whole pie in not time flat and were still a bit peckish after that. With another side dish though, we would have been doing fine.
- Red Brick gluten-free pies – As part of a promotional thing at my office recently, we had a whole lot of pizza brought in, twice in one day. For the evening pizza party, they’d ordered tons of different pies from Red Brick, including several gluten-free ones. It was nice to be included. I want to like these pies more than I did. Part of my issue is, I think, that I’m just not really down with the Californian trend of wacky pizza toppings. I tend to be a little bit more traditional with pizza, and putting say, cilantro, on Thai chicken pizza didn’t do it for me. In fact, much as I love cilantro and carrots, I’ve discovered I don’t like them on pizza. And try as I might, I just can’t get down with BBQ chicken pizza. The cashews on the Hawaiian were also a little weird. The crust wasn’t terrible – but it wasn’t good either, a little soggy tasting and kind of gummy. I might give it another shot when it’s not being ordered in mass quantity. Also, I give them credit for the extensive commitment to gluten-free that’s described on the menu.
- Whole Foods ready-made GF personal pie – These little guys are affordable at $4.99 and are actually far better than I would have anticipated. On a night when making dinner is just too appalling a prospect, I’ve picked up two of these and made a salad and had the perfect dinner for two.
- The ready-made GF crust from Pensi Pasta in Marina – available at several local farmers markets: I really, really wanted to like this but I just, well, I didn’t. I’m going to give their pasta a shot soon, but the crust was too thin for my liking and too dry. I might give it another shot, but the first try just left me underwhelmed, which saddens me greatly.