Pizza Perfect

15 Jul

I never liked pizza. Especiallynot the salty, crispy Villa Nova’s thin crust I endured as a child during my family’s weekly visits to cut the lawn at my Grandma’s house. I shifted my thinking slightly, however, when I accompanied a college friend to visit her boyfriend during his shift waiting tables at Gino’s East and tried the cornmeal crust of Gino’s extravagant deep-dish cheese pizza.

But, ironically, I didn’t become a true, pizza-loving Italian until I ordered a gluten-free pizza from Rose’s Wheatfree Bakery in Evanston, Ill. And I shouldn’t have been surprised. This charming bakery and cafe, though somewhat lacking in service expertise and organization, serves the most flavorful, authentic-tasting gluten-free goods available. (Bakery hours, menu items, and hours when serving specific menu items, namely pizza, seem to have varied constantly during my year and a half of making the long drive to dine there, so I suggest calling ahead before visiting.)

Enduring these shortcomings, however, is worthwhile for the pizza, available in a personal or large size. The texture and thickness of the crust are superior to any wheat- or cornmeal-based crust’s. And the taste, perfectly accented by flecks of a unique—if still mysterious to me, though my boyfriend’s guess is rosemary—green herb throughout, is divine. (Next to this crust, other gluten-free options such as Kinnikinnick’s don’t deserve a mention. After trying Kinnikinnick’s crust with various vegetarian toppings at restaurants including Aurelio’s Pizza and Stillwater in Downers Grove, Ill., I’ve decided the only way to enjoy this slightly sweet crust is sliced, toasted, and complemented by delicious whipped butter, as served at Stillwater. As for the numerous frozen-pizza options in my local gluten-free grocery store, I learned to ignore the recommendation of the store owner after she admitted to never having tried Rose’s pizza.) The sauce is simple but delicious, the cheese melts to the perfect consistency, and the toppings, even if they merit an additional charge, complete the experience.

That experience, however, is best at home. The chefs at Rose’s cook the pizza too well for my liking and burn the crust’s edges into sour crispiness. But with an uncooked pizza taken home, frozen until desired (The pizza’s center becomes soggy if frozen for more than a week or two.), and then baked in a 425-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, the pizza is perfect for enjoying immediately or rewarmed later in the microwave.

In addition, I have two frozen crusts from Rose’s in my freezer right now. The cost was less, though not significantly so, and the middle may not prove soggy in this method. It’s a new experiment for me (and, presumably, a relatively new option offered by Rose’s), but I may enjoy choosing my own sauce, cheese, and fresh mushroom topping. Either way, I know I’m going to like it.


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