Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gluten Free Pizza Update - ZPizza

I have previously written about a pizza place called Z Pizza which was rolling out Gluten Free Pizza choices. I have spent the past few weeks working with the franchisee of the ZPizza locations in Raleigh and Cary to further discuss their GF Pizza offerings. I met with the owner recently and was walked through the entire process of making a GF Pizza and would like to share the details with all of you. After reading this, I hope you'll feel safe about eating at ZPizza. They have taken some extra steps to get it right that some other local places have not yet taken. Let's hope ZPizza can be an inspiration to them and a safe place for us.

ZPizza is a California based franchise with over 100 locations in the US. They have been in the Raleigh market for about 3 years.

Ordering
From the time you order at the counter until the time you are delivered your GF Pizza, meticulous attention is paid by the staff at ZPizza. Their Point of Sale computer system has a special marking for Gluten Free which causes your order ticket to be printed with a Gluten Free label. The cashier then goes to the kitchen staff area and highlights the Gluten Free label on the ticket to make it stand out further. They then notify the manager (or owner if he is present) about the Gluten Free order. The manager/owner will either make your pizza or directly supervise the entire process.

Gluten Free Crusts
Gluten Free crusts are pre-made using all GF ingredients (including Damato Living Flour) and are sent to the store and kept frozen on site. No GF dough is mixed or made at ZPizza. In addition, to reduce cross-contamination issues when regular wheat pizza is prepared, all wheat flour in the restaurant has been replaced with rice flour. When wheat pizzas are pressed/tossed and prepared, it is using rice flour. This eliminates wheat flour from entering the air and eventually landing on your GF pizza and making you sick. Also, the dough for the wheat pizzas is not made on site further reducing the risks. Wheat flour was replaced with rice flour for about a month before any GF Pizzas were made in the restaurants. The kitchens were also thoroughly cleaned after the switch.

Preparation
Cooks are instructed to wash their hands and put on brand new latex gloves before beginning the preparation. Then a special sealed box is retrieved from the cooler which contains all the necessary tools for making the GF Pizza. It contains pizza pans, cutters, tongs, GF Cheese and GF tomato sauce (along with some other ingredients). Next, your GF crust is taken from the freezer and placed into the GF pan. GF Ingredients are added (they have many choices for pizza - not just cheese!) and the pan is placed in the oven in a dedicated area to the side. A separate paddle is used to place and remove the pizza from the oven. All kitchen staff are notified when a GF pizza is placed in the oven so they do not place wheat pizzas near it. When cooking is finished, the pan is removed and the pizza served.

Ingredients
ZPizza Corporate has thoroughly analyzed all their ingredients and know which are GF and which are not. Any veggies you would like on your pizza are kept in the cooler area and not pulled from the main area where wheat pizzas are topped. ZPizza has a large list of GF ingredients/toppings at the store so please ask when you arrive. Toppings include pepperoni, sausage, cheese and numerous veggies. They also can offer tomato sauce, pesto sauce or chipotle pesto sauce. They are currently working on developing a GF Menu which will be available both online and in the store.

Other items of note
The GF pizzas only come in 10" sizes at this time and cost about $3 more than their wheat pizza counterparts. ZPizza is also looking to add other GF items to their choices including salads, desserts from the Whole Foods Bakehouse and Gluten Free Beer like RedBridge. Please provide feedback to the staff when you visit about what other options you would like to see offered.

My experience
During my tour of ZPizza, the owner made me the following pizzas - Pepperoni with Peppers and Mushrooms, Chipotle Pesto Sauce with tomatoes, corn and roasted red peppers and finally a pesto sauce and cheese pizza. All 3 pizzas were excellent. ZPizza uses high quality ingredients which taste great. For the GF crust, it was very thin and crispy but had a nice flaky, buttery taste to it. Overall, it was a great pizza and I would dine at ZPizza again.

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness - GREAT program
Please see my earlier post about the NFCA's GREAT program here. ZPizza as a franchise has gone through the GREAT training program and has been verified by the NFCA. Look for the window decal when entering the store. See my previous post for all that is included in this verification/certification process.

ZPizza Information
Web site - http://www.zpizzatriangle.com/

Raleigh location
9630 Fall of the Neuse Road
Falls Pointe Shopping Center
(Next to Starbucks)
Phone - 919.844.0065

Cary location
96 Cornerstone Drive
Stone Creek Village
(Corner Davis and High House)
Phone - 919.465.9009

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cool! Is there a link to the ingredients list for ZPizza's gf pizza crust? I have multiple food allergies. Thanx

Zach said...

They have the ingredients list for the pizza crust in the restaurant. You may be able to get it by calling also.

Rachel said...

Great blog. I've just added you to my list of 101 (now 105) GF Blogs. Keep up the good work.

Steve said...

Zach,
I love the blog. I come down to the triangle very often, so I'll be sure to keep watching.

I just ate at the Zpizza in Alexandria, VA and had a great experience. Next time I go in, I'll talk to the manager and see how they liked the training program and see if they go through all of the same steps as the ones down there. Hopefully, the training will have been consistent.

Thanks,
Steve
www.iHateWheat.com

Sarah said...

I got this email today:

My name is Ken Alexander. I'm the manager of Zpizza of Cary at the Stone Creek Shopping Center.
We've been delighted at the response from the community now that we offer a 10" gluten free crust for our pizzas. It's so rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of people who haven't enjoyed a pizza "out on the town" for years. We'll do out best to continue to provide a quality dinine experience to our patrons.
The response has been particularly strong this past week. We find ourselves very low on the gluten-free crusts. We'll get a case in by air on Wednesday the 25th, and five cases more on Thursday the 26th. In the meantime, could you please ask your readers to call ahead to check the availability of our gluten-free crusts? I would hate for anyone to make a special trip only to be disappointed.
We'll do our best to maintain a comfortable supply of gluten-free crusts on hand, so that your members will have a place to enjoy a tasty, and healthy, pizza.
Thank you for your help.

Ken Alexander
Manager
Zpizza of Cary
Stone Creek Shopping Center
Cary, NC 27519

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