Gluten free pizza is available widely across the country, from the pizza giants to local restaurants and pizzerias. Some, like Pizza Express have gone to great lengths to install strict cross contamination procedures using GF flour across all pizzas, but nothing can give you reassurance about the safety of your food, like seeing it being made and cooked in front of you. True transparency.
Pizzabuzz opened 6 weeks ago nestled between the City and Shoreditch in the landmark Alphabeta Building in a bright, colourful modern space which reflects the local clientele. Based on the concept of customisation, the restaurant centres around their terrazo service bar, packed with busy chefs and well sourced ingredients.
For those who may be overwhelmed by too much choice.. Literally twelve cheeses, as many proteins, vegetables and even five bases for those who can eat “normal” pizza, there is also a short menu. But let it be know that their focus is not quantity over quality, by any means. The Meredith Group, who own a couple London foodie pubs are known for their sourcing of British ingredients, and thankfully, this attention to source and provenance applies to their pizza restaurant.
So walking in, you head straight to the pizza bar to order. Either design your own or choose from one of their signature selections, if the choice is too much. Nothing ordinary here though. All Day Breakfast? Popeye? We chose the Honour with pesto base sauce, buffalo mozzeralla, rocket, parmesan and cherry tomatoes as well as the Veal Meatballs, with crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, caramelised onions and Proscuito – both on gluten free bases.
Sadly, you have to pay an extra £2 for the GF base, but free from surcharges is a discussion for another day. This one comes all the way from Finland, purely for the eating quality, ingredients and lack of added sugar. When I asked for GF base, they gave me the dedicated person who does the GF pizzas, who promptly changed his gloves and went to work creating my lunch. Confident and knowledgable, I felt I was in safe hands. Plus I could see just how he careful he was being under my watchful eye. Separate pizza pans instead of paddles, clean tongs and gloves, it was cross contamination control along the length of the bar.
Into the specialist wood fire pizza, remaining in the pizza pan to prevent glutening, it was cooked in just 90 seconds, sliced with GF labelld pizza cutter and collected from the counter. Meanwhile I had managed to work out the array of choices on the high tech drinks machine and found somewhere to sit. A swift, enjoyable and confidence building ordering experience.
On tasting the pizzas, I no longer complained about the £2 surcharge. After trying to elegantly hack at too many tough, brittle, inedible bases with a steak knife, this was a pleasant, normal pizza eating experience. Thin bases that tasted like normal pizza (as I recall and my dining partner confirmed) I would definitely have queried the right order, had I not seen it be made and cooked with my own eyes. The Veal Meatball was a true meat feast, with the kind gourmet ingredients I use at home, and was really perked up by the caramelised onions. I loved the use of a fresh pesto base on the Honour. You could really taste the basil even through the generous amount of cheese and rocket.
In addition to the pizzas, we also tried the burrata. A real favourite of mine, these creamy, large mozzerella style cheeses, were dressed with rocket and lemon for a novel, fresh side salad. Beetroot and mint, parma ham and chilli would have been excellent too.. Salads are also available, as are wines and prosecco on tap, juices and more.
We also fed my 2 year old with their Littlebeez pizzas. 6″ pizzas with two toppings for just £3.95. Patrick had white sauce with ham and peas. It was devoured. Sadly I don’t think the kids one comes in a GF option.
But Pizzabuzz is not just about pizzas. They have also worked with celebrated chef Roger Pizey known for his sweet treats to create an own made ice cream brand Mamoo. Using cows milk, goats milk and almond milk, these little pots of ice cream are made, pasteurised, churned and potted on site. Using the best ingredients, like Weiss 70% chocolate, own grown and crystalised rose petals brings customisation and creativity to ice cream too. Honey or vanilla, chocolate, confit de orange, or rose…are just the ones I can remember.
So that was the food, the cross contamination, the experience. Add to that the light, semi industrial, colourful space, customised art, appropriate kids options and brilliant service, it genuinely thrills me to highly recommend Pizzabuzz. I can’t remember a new concept done so well, so thoughtfully and so inclusively in my 17 years of working in the food world. I look forward to seeing them hopefully expand across the city, and come south of the river.. HINT HINT.
UPDATE: On speaking direct with the restaurant about tightening one of their cross contamination procedures, not only did they reply and take it on board. They implemented it immediately! If only all restaurants took gf catering so seriously. Also, they do have an allergens sheet available listing all the ingredients and allergens, so do ask for it. However they told me that just all their ingredients are gluten free except TWO, which the staff know about. Isn’t that great!?