|Gluten-Free Margarita Pizza from Coalfire in Ellicott City, MD|
If you haven't yet guessed, good pizza is something that, until our son's Celiac Disease made us a Gluten-Free home, we enjoyed at least once a week. Usually, I made the pizza at home, as I think I'm pretty good with a pie. As I'm starting over from scratch, we've been forced to look at the various Gluten-Free options out there. Our second experience was with a small chain located just down the street from us: Coalfire Pizza in Ellicott City, Maryland.
Coalfire, as the name implies, uses a charcoal pizza oven that gets to around 800 degrees on the deck. This makes for a very quickly-cooked pizza with that tell-tale lightly charred appearance. Their Gluten-Free pie shares that appearance.
Like many pizzerias, Coalfire uses a third-party Gluten-Free crust, this time by Venice Bakery of El Segundo, California. The crusts are plopped into a one-time use aluminum pan and topped from a cheese and sauce station that is segregated from the main topping station used for the regular wheat crust. Coalfire even has a stated process of Gluten-Free preparation. Obviously they cannot 100% guarantee there wouldn't be cross contamination, but having a process is a good step. The manager was very knowledgeable on the Gluten-Free menu and was able to answer any questions we had. Coalfile has several locations, so I can't speak for the others... I would check if you were going to stop in.
My understanding is that they use a different (possibly non-charcoal) oven for these pizzas. Either way, the char and crispness was prominent. This was the first close-to-Neopolitan-style crust we've had (with Dogfish's Still Riding being thicker and fluffier). The crust still had a good chew to it and with Coalfire's signature sauce, it made for a tasty dinner. My wife wasn't as impressed, as she thought the texture was a little strange. Of course, our son (who prefers shredded cheese layered densely enough to hide all visual evidence of tomato sauce) wanted nothing to do with it. As you can buy Venice Bakery crusts online, you could certainly create your own pizza with a similar taste and texture.
There is obviously the usual upcharge for the Gluten-free option ($10.95 for a 10" pizza, compared to $10.95 for a 12" pie) and is much closer to a personal pizza than a share-able entree. But it's affordable and a good option for someone craving a good, basic slice of pizza.
We were very happy with our experience with Coalfire. While I wish other toppings could be added to their Gluten-Free station, I was impressed with the simple Margarita Pizza enough to return for another.