Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mellow Mushroom's Gluten Free Pizza

As I wrote about late last week, Mellow Mushroom has finally rolled out their new Gluten Free pizzas.  I had the opportunity today to meet the folks behind the pizza, see how it is prepared and cooked and most importantly taste the new pie.  I'd like to start off with a big thanks to Triangle Mellow Mushroom owner Casey (Raleigh, Durham and Wake Forest locations) for inviting me in to see the process and taste the product.  Also, thanks to the two members of MM corporate (John and Eric) for providing all the pertinent information so that I could properly share this exciting news with you.  And to Fred Lybrand of Juno Nutrition for again having great connections.

There have been rumors about this day for many months and I'm happy to report that it is finally here.  I'm also happy to share that MM has really thought this through and have a huge desire to get this right for Celiacs or those who are Gluten Intolerant (or as the typo in the menu says "Celiac Intolerant" - I wish I actually was Celiac Intolerant but I digress).  They have really done their homework on the right way to roll out GF pizza.  You can enjoy these new GF pizzas right now at the 3 Triangle area locations during this test market launch.  Let's do our part to make sure this test is successful.

Here are the important points to remember...
  1. Mellow Mushroom is using a frozen pizza crust product from Still Riding Pizza.  The crusts are made in a dedicated GF facility and shipped to each MM location frozen.
  2. MM is bringing in nearly 50 GFCO certified Gluten Free toppings/ingredients for it's GF pizza.  All these ingredients are kept in a separate preparation area away from the main prep line for wheat pizzas.
  3. MM has developed an extensive preparation procedure that will be used by "certified Gluten Free pizza makers" to deliver safe pizzas to those who cannot tolerate Gluten.  I saw this procedure in writing and will try to get a copy to share with you.
  4. MM only uses corn meal in their restaurants when preparing wheat pizza, thus no atmospheric gluten.
  5. MM keeps all GF toppings, supplies and crusts in a dedicated area.  All GF pizzas will be prepared in this dedicated location.  They use separate utensils as well.
  6. MM will be using dedicated GF screens to cook the GF pizzas in a shared oven (wheat pizzas are placed directly on the oven stone itself) to avoid cross-contamination while baking.
Now onto the pizza.  I sampled a pepperoni and mushroom pizza while Fred tried a Hawaiian.  Both were excellent in taste and mouth feel.  The pizzas were the closest to wheat pizza that I've seen to date in the fact that the crust was not either cracker-like or crumbly.  A very NY-style thin crust pizza you could take and fold over to eat - yum!  The pizza is a 12" pizza and comes in larger than any of its competitors offering a full 8 slices.  MM also does not charge an extra fee for the GF crusts, they are the same price as their normal medium pizza.  With nearly 50 toppings to choose from, you can create basically any pizza you like and have it taste pretty darn close to the wheat version you might be used to from MM.

Product Testing Policy
As per the Gluten Free Raleigh "Paul Seelig" Product Testing Policy, I did perform an EZ-Gluten test on a sample of my pepperoni/mushroom pizza.  See the pictures for more information but I'm happy to report that the result was negative (actual test strip on the far left).

Mellow Mushroom is looking for your feedback on their new Gluten Free Pizzas and preparation/cooking procedure.  Please visit their Contact Us Web site to let them know your thoughts and be sure to give this new Gluten Free Pizza option a try.


Kelly said...

This makes me SO happy! Hoping the test markets are successful and our Mellow Mushroom (TX) gets GF goodies. I used to go there once a week pre-diagnosis. Thanks for the great info!

Chris said...

I'm drooling. Can't wait to try it!! Thanks for suffering for the cause and trying that pizza. You're our hero. ;-)

Curious Art said...

What wonderful news! Especially since so many restaurants really are "Celiac intolerant" (hee hee).

I'm a tiny bit nervous about the baking part, but if they are testing the pies as you did, & they're consistently coming out gf, then YAY!!! We live near MM & this will add greatly to our dining options!

John said...

Excellent news! Zach, you da man.

Jennifer Gluten Free in Georgia said...

Great information. I met with them at their corporate office on behalf of the NFCA back in January. It is great to know that they have completed the training process and have put such great procedures in place.

Looking forward to trying it when it hits a metro Atlanta location.

Shu-NCrew said...

my wife can't have soy, wheat, or corn... my heart goes out to her all the time. Also, I run the trivia at Mellow Mushroom on Wednesday nights when the weather is nice (come out!). It's so nice to hear that now, when she comes out to support me, she won't have to suffer hungry. Thanks for this post!


Shu-NCrew said...

my wife can't have soy, wheat, or corn... my heart goes out to her all the time. Also, I run the trivia at Mellow Mushroom on Wednesday nights when the weather is nice (come out!). It's so nice to hear that now, when she comes out to support me, she won't have to suffer hungry. Thanks for this post!


ktouton said...

MM started out here in Atlanta, I wish we were one of their test markets. Maybe they will revamp their pretzels, they were to die for!

Teresa in Fort Worth said...

I live in Fort Worth, but I will be traveling to North Carolina later this month to surprise my grandmother for her 90th birthday. What a joy to find out that I can try out MM GF Pizza while I am there! You can bet if I like it that I will be pestering the folks at our new-ish MM here to add it to their menu ASAP....

Mike said...

I had the gluten free version of the Philosopher's Pie tonight at the Glenwood location (only slight revisions to the regular ingredients included leaving off the Feta cheese and swapping out the marinated portabella mushrooms for button mushrooms.)
The flavor was UNBELIEVABLE! The texture of the crust is the most pizza-like that I've tasted anywhere.
Also, our server was really informed. Even before I started asking him the usual questions about how/where things are prepared, he explained that items for the gluten free pies were kept separate and pointed out which toppings were/were not GF-certified on the menu.
I couldn't have been happier with the whole experience. I'd definitely recommend trying one of their GF pizzas if you haven't yet!

Amanda said...

Do you know where Mellow Mushroom gets their toppings from? I recently ate at one and was told North Star was their supplier and that it was a 100% gluten free facility. However, the only food distributor I can find called North Star is a huge warehouse and *nothing* on their website says anything about being gluten free! I've written to see if they are the Mellow Mushroom supplier, but have not heard anything back yet.

The reason I'm trying to find out is the topping we picked was chicken, which showed up with grill lines. Grill lines are notoriously from the grill being floured -- which sears the lines onto the meat. But the MM folks swear the chicken was baked, so something doesn't add up to me. (Usually we get pepperoni, but that topping was NOT on the gluten free list, to our disappointment.)

I got stomach pains after we ate there, which seems out of the norm based on what I've seen gluten free folks say about the MM.

[The one I ate at was in the Pigeon Forge area in TN.]

reimage25 said...

I'm sorry but I served this pizza to friends from out of town and I thought it was the worst I'd ever had. Gritty and soggy with a horrible aftertaste. Want REAL gluten free pizza? Go to Z Pizza - by far THE best (2 in Raleigh)

cyn10s said...

I had the gf pizza and it made me sick. I think baking it in the same oven as the wheat pizzas contaminates it.

Amanda said...

@ cyn10s --

What toppings did you get on yours? I'm extremely sensitive, and have only gotten sick once. At that occasion, I got grilled chicken pieces on my pizza. The chicken was suspicious to me because it had grill lines, which are traditionally achieved by flouring the grill. MM gets the chicken already cooked, so they had nothing to do with that. They gave me the name of the supplier, but I could never get any response.

From then on, I've stuck with toppings such as pepperoni, garlic, basil, and fresh mozz, sometimes regular sauce, sometimes a garlic/olive oil mixture instead.

Is there any chance you had a problem with one of the ingredients in the crust?

Now, not to stay that a shared oven *didn't* contaminate it. Maybe someone wasn't as careful as they should have been. What location did you go to? I would contact them, tell them what date you went, what time (as close as possible), your experience, and your reaction.

In my experience, MM is pretty concerned with making things right. Good luck.

MMF said...

We tried the Durham location this weekend. My child had the GF pizza, just cheese, and was very happy, no adverse reaction. I tried it with their special shitake mushroom toppins (which are NOT gluten-free) and was delicious. Since they only do mediums GF, they allowed me to do half cheese, half moshrooms. Will go again some time.

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