I was thrilled when I heard that a local restaurant called Mafiaoza’s Pizzeria now offers a gluten-free pizza crust option. Mafiaoza’s is a great little restaurant that we frequented before learning of my gluten intolerance. I loved their mob motif. With pizzas called “Brother Fredo”, “The Fed”, and “Brass Knuckles” combined with the dim lighting, you’re sure to feel like you’re in a scene from The Godfather.
Since I’ve learned of my gluten intolerance, I’ve only been to Mafiaoza’s for social reasons, mostly under duress, because all they could offer me was a dry salad. Imagine eating iceburg lettuce while smelling gourmet pizza, bruschette, scampi cakes, and pastas. That’s just pure mafia torture.
Since learning about Mafiaoza’s gluten-free pizza crust, I’ve been there twice. Gluten-free pizza is “an offer I can’t refuse”.
But I don’t think I’ll be back again.
The fact that being gluten-free has become a fad has made dining out both easier and more dangerous at the same time. It’s easier because there are more options for those who are truly gluten-intolerant or have Celiac disease. But it’s more dangerous because some restaurants don’t understand the severity of the disease or that providing a gluten-free option doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe for them to offer one.
“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”
Providing a gluten-free crust is not the same as offering a “low fat” or “low carb” option. We are not trying to lose weight or jump on the latest celebrity diet. We are trying to stay well. This is a health and safety issue for us. And I don’t think everyone understand that.
On our first visit, the Husband and I ordered two different gluten-free pizzas.
“The Greek” with plum tomatoes, red onion, black olives, green peppers, feta cheese, and a creamy Greek vinaigrette.
I’m not quite sure what was going on in the kitchen that night, but look at the distribution of the toppings. Someone was definitely in a hurry.
But “we don’t discuss business at the table”.
Regardless of the lack of symmetry, the pizza tasted delicious. This was my first experience with French Meadow pizza dough, and it was delicious.
What was not excusable was the dangerous manner in which the pizzas were served.
“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”
We were out to dinner with a family member who is not gluten intolerant. She ordered a pizza on regular wheat dough. When the three pizzas arrived, the server brought them out on a tray. And to my horror, the crust of my gluten-free pizza was resting on the crust of the gluten-filled wheat pizza!
I didn’t make a scene. The Husband, who is not gluten-intolerant, ate the contaminated part of the pizza. And I ate the pieces farthest from that side. I did not get sick from gluten that night, but it sure did make me wonder. If that kind of carelessness occurred while serving, what was going on in the kitchen? I did have a chance to talk to the manager, thanked her for offering gluten-free pizza, and suggested that she inform her servers about the dangers of cross-contamination.
Last night, we tried Mafiaoza’s again with a non-gf couple. When I ordered my gluten-free pizza, I asked the waitress what they did in the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination. She answered my question with a question that was very telling of the current climate. (“…it insults my intelligence and it makes me very angry.)
Waitress: “So, are you really allergic?”
Waitress: “Then they’ll change their gloves and use a different cutting board and utensils.”
Would they have used those precautions if I hadn’t asked?
We ordered “The Irate Italian” again. This time the toppings were slightly more evenly distributed, but what a dumping of black olives!
And we also ordered “The Last Request” with black olives, pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage, portobello mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, garlic, green peppers, red onions, and jalepenos. The name truly fits the pizza. If I had one last request before the mob did me in, this pizza would be my choice.
The pizzas were all served separately, so there was no cross-contamination between the kitchen and our table. This pizza was divine. I love hot and spicy food, and this flavorful pizza did not disappoint.
“Someday – and that day may never come – I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as gift…”
But do you have any idea how much this 10-inch pizza cost? They charged us the same price as their 12-inch pizza, which is already a ridiculous $19.00, plus $3.00 extra for the gluten-free crust. A $22.00 10-inch gluten-free pizza in Nashville? If we were in New York City, I might understand, but that’s a bit extreme.
“Sorry Johnny…but it’s only business.”
So, we won’t be back to Mafiaoza’s. The risks in safety and the economics of it all are just not worth it to me. There are plenty of other restaurants that have earned my trust with their commitment to serving those who are truly gluten intolerant.
“Mr. Corleone never asks a second favor once he’s refused the first, understood?”
How do you feel about the abundance of gluten-free offerings? How has it affected you?