Restaurant Review: Deschutes Brewery

We got an email from one of our readers on Saturday about the Deschutes Brewery and some gluten-free options they have there. We had already heard that they have gluten-free beer, but there was some new interesting information:

Hey, we went to Deschutes Brewery today and found that not only do they have a fantastic gluten-free beer on tap all the time, and it’s not always the same, but they have gluten-free items marked on their menu, and the head chef even hired a baker to make gluten-free buns for their burgers! They have dedicated fryers, and the bartender even knew to tell us that even if we are ordering something that would normally be gluten-free, to let them know we needed it to be gluten-free and they prepare it in a safe area. these folks really seem to know what they’re doing. I haven’t had the burger + gluten-free bun yet, (was full when I went in today!) but we’re going back soon to try it. Just thought you might want to know and put it on your list!

This looked to us like something that called for immediate attention on our part, so we sprang into action. I can’t tell you the last time I had a burger at a restaurant. I’ve been to the Deschutes Brewery before. It’s a nice place in the Pearl, a block away from Powell’s Books. The atmosphere is relaxed. Like many other Portland brew pubs, people take their kids to eat. It’s amazingly clean, and has a Northwest brew pub kind of menu. It’s the kind of place that’s almost always 98% full, so the place is hopping but there’s still somewhere to sit.

The menu has helpful markings for vegetarian options and gluten-free items. The gluten-free goods are not on the menus that can be found on their website unfortunately. Hopefully they fix that soon. What I remember is:

  • Appetizers: Chicken Wings and Oysters
  • Salads: One or two
  • Burgers: Most of them
  • Pizzas: Nope, sorry.
  • Brewery Specialties: One or two items
  • Sandwiches: A couple, including the Chicken BLT
  • Desserts: Some kind of chocolate pudding with cookies?

Gluten Free Beer - Hefeweizen
The beer they had available was the Gluten-Free Krystal Weiss. Here is their description:

100% Gluten-Free Ale! This beer is made with Sorghum and brown rice syrup for a smooth gluten-free experience. We used German noble hops, Perle for bittering and Spalter and Hersbruckens hops for aroma. IBU’s: 63 Alcohol by Vol. 4.8%

Our waitress described it as a “Hefeweizen, but filtered.” I’m used to drinking this kind of beer with a generous slice of lemon. Mmmmm. It was good, and it passed the Sienna taste test as well.

Gluten-free Burger with Sesame Bun

There was no question that I had to sample the burger and it was awesome! Our waitress told us that they had been working hard on the gluten-free bun. She said this was the fourth variety they’ve come up with. It wasn’t exactly like a regular hamburger bun, but it was the closest thing to a real hamburger bun that I’ve had yet. They’ve even got New Cascadia Traditional Bakery beat (sorry guys). One really nice thing was that it wasn’t too thick. It was literally like having a normal burger. Woo Hoo!

Sienna had the Falafel Salad, which we were told could be made to be gluten-free by omitting the flat bread. The salad was good, and the falafel were very flavorful and not greasy.

We questioned the waitress a bit about cross contamination and how they prepare food. She said that although most of their dishes are prepared in the same area as the gluten-free ones, they were careful to not get wheat or gluten into the gluten-free items. She also said that they keep the gluten-free brewing area extremely clean to make sure there’s no chance of cross-contamination. That was very reassuring.

This is a later note. We have eaten here a number of times now and with one exception were very happy with the quality of the bun. They now have their gluten-free items on a separate menu and the food is good.

The food came out hot in a reasonable amount of time and our waitress was very helpful and seemed hip to the gluten-free thing. It was very cool and we were very happy. Thanks to Gaile (and all the other helpful folks who send us tips too) for the head’s up!

We want to know: Have you had the gluten-free beer at Deschutes Brewery? Have you had something other than the Krystal Weiss? What did you think? Have you had a perfect gluten-free hamburger bun? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 5+ (So we feel pretty good about our scores.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Gluten-free Bun Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Deschutes Brewery
210 NW 11th Ave., Portland, OR 97209 / 503.296.4906
www.deschutesbrewery.com

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Mini Chicken Tacos

Trader Joe's No Gluten Ingredients Used LabelI love these Trader Joe’s Mini Chicken Tacos. One thing I don’t exactly like is their way of designating them “No Gluten Ingredients Used.” To the paranoid side of me, this means that they don’t think there’s any gluten in there, but they aren’t testing and maybe don’t really know. Is that paranoid? I should call them and find out what they really mean.

OK so let’s talk about the tacos. One thing that becomes very obvious the minute you open the package is that these babies don’t really look much like what’s on the box. The box makes it look like there’s cheese and chunks of chicken, and that the tacos were stuffed and then maybe baked by the Trader Joe’s Gluten Free elves. So here’s what the box looks like. See those hearty chunks of chicken and identifiable pieces of grated cheese?

Trader Joe's Mini Chicken Tacos

Here’s the real thing, waiting to go into the toaster oven.

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Mini Tacos

You can pull these babies open and what it really looks like is chicken and cheese stuff in there with some tomatillo salsa. Here are the ingredients:

Filling: chicken leg and breast meat, green chilies, crushed tomatillos (tomatillo, citric acid), contains 2% or less of: gelatin, modified corn starch, onions, green chili puree (green chili and citric acid), jalapenos (jalapeno peppers, salt, acetic acid, calcium chloride), chicken base (salt, maltodextrin, detrose, modified corn starch, sugar, yeast extract, dehydrated onion, corn oil, spice extractives including turmeric, natural smoke flavoring, citric acid), vinegar, salt, flavoring, water, cilantro flavor (dextrose, modified corn starch, extractives of cilantro), dehydrated bell pepper & cilantro flakes, guar gum.
Tortilla: corn flour (corn masa flour, trace of lime), water, modified potato starch.
Fried in vegetable oil (canola and/or soybean)

The ingredients confirm what my eyes see. It’s basically chicken with tomatillo salsa. Each serving contains 250 mg of sodium, which is pretty good for Trader Joe’s. Once again this is a product where we can’t really fool ourselves: It’s processed. On the plus side, they’re really fast and they’re delicious! You have to dress them up, though. We eat them with plenty of salsa and either sour cream or yogurt.

Trader Joe's Mini Tacos

As I said at the beginning, I love these tacos. Sienna really likes them too. They are something like having awesome nachos and are fun to eat. For me, I can overlook the maltodextrin, modified corn starch, processed foodie kind of thing going on for flavor like this.

This review was done to be part of What’s for Dinner? Wednesday, hosted by Linda at Gluten-free Homemaker.

We want to know: Seems like this isn’t a great item for people who are eating gluten-free to be healthy. For someone who is gluten-free and wants to eat something delicious that’s easy to make, these Trader Joe’s Mini Chicken Tacos hit the spot. How do you feel about processed foods? How about that curious “No Gluten Ingredients Used” label? Let us know in the comments.

Times we have visited: 4 (we feel confident about our score.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Restaurant Review: Hugo’s Restaurant – Los Angeles

Welcome to our first gluten free travel installment since our vacation last week. As mentioned in our last news item, Sienna and I traveled from Portland, Oregon down to Los Angeles. We were in the audience at the Jimmy Kimmel show, and stayed at the Roosevelt on Hollywood Boulevard (we didn’t really like the hotel much, unfortunately). Of course we would be remiss if we didn’t find some gluten free places to review. Luckily we found Hugo’s Restaurant.

Besides being gluten-free-friendly, Hugo’s has a diverse menu, is dedicated to sustainability, and is vegan and vegetarian friendly. Although the online menus don’t seem to have this feature, the menus at the restaurant have everything marked for whether it is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or if it can be modified to be that way. Among other things, they have gluten-free pancakes and gluten-free fish and chips. When I was looking at the menu I actually got kind of overwhelmed by the amount of choices, which is really awesome.

Hugo's West Hollywood Restaurant Interior

We visited Hugo’s West Hollywood location for lunch, and when we arrived there was no wait for a table, but the restaurant was busy. The place is clean and kind of stylish. With huge booths and wood tables and chairs, it has the feel of a cross between an upscale restaurant and a diner. Hugo’s also has a Studio City location and it looks like they have two more separate places to get tacos. One in Atwater Village, and the other also in Studio City. They are also opening a location in Agoura Hills in late fall of 2009. It also looks from their website that they sell very expensive teas.

Hugo's gluten free fish and chips

I got the gluten-free fish and chips, which is actually more like fish and sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries were good but not awesome. I’m used to sweet potato fries being more like a “steak cut” fry with lots of salt. Hugo’s were thinly cut – more like fast food fries. Although I found myself wishing for some applesauce for dipping, I didn’t have any trouble finishing them. The fish was really good too. Although I’m still looking for a really awesome battered gluten-free fish, I liked these better than the fare at the Hawthorne Fish House. The reason I like them better is that they have a lot of flavor. I would be really interested to see how Hugo’s fish and chips would be with some gluten-free malt vinegar. Our waiter was awesome. The wait for our food was reasonable. Neither of my items were excessively greasy. My lunch was delicious and the rest of our party was happy with their food too.

Gluten Free Fried Fish: Click here for our breaded fish recipe.

We want to know: Have you eaten at Hugo’s? If so, how are the pancakes? We’re still looking for awesome gluten free fish and chips in Portland Oregon. Let us know!

Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Hugo’s Restaurant
http://hugosrestaurant.com/
multiple locations in Los Angeles

Hipcooks Persian Immersion Cooking Class

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, Hipcooks is a new place in Portland Oregon to take cooking classes and they have several gluten-free cooking classes available. We decided to sign up for one of them, and had our class last night. We chose to do the Hipcooks Persian Immersion class mostly because it was gluten free but also because we didn’t think we had ever had Persian food before and the recipe descriptions sounded really interesting.

We made Shirin Pollow, which is a saffron jeweled rice and Khoresht-e-fesenjan, which is chicken in a walnut and pomegranate sauce. We also drank some wonderful Shiraz wine, enjoyed a meatball and salad appetizer, and ate rosewater and cardamom ice cream for dessert.

Portland Hipcooks Kitchen

Our class was full and everyone was very friendly. Having never taken a cooking class I didn’t know what to expect. The Hipcooks format is that you stand at a half-circle workspace with small portable gas burners and other kitchen tools, and everyone contributes to the dishes. For someone with food allergies it’s almost perfect because you see everything that goes into every dish. Our instructor for the night, Jessica, split us up into two teams and provided guidance about how to chop, dice, zest, portion, and stir our ingredients. The clean-up and dishes were done by Jessica’s assistant, also named Jessica.

First we prepared our dessert, getting the ice cream ingredients ready and putting them into an ice cream maker. Then we started on the Persian meatballs with a greens salad and Maast-o Khiar, which is a yogurt and cucumber sauce that is a lot like a simple Tzatziki sauce. When the meatballs were done we sat down to eat them, which was a good thing, because Sienna and I were starving by the time we had finished cooking the appetizers. The good news is we were amazed at how delicious the meatballs were, considering how simple it was to make them. There was no breading in them so they were naturally gluten-free! The Maast-o Khiar was also really delicious.

Hipcooks Gluten-free Persian Meatballs

(Photo kind of blurry – sorry – but you can use your imagination.)

After the appetizer it was back to cooking. One side of the class worked on the Khoresht Fesenjaan, which is chicken with onion, ground walnuts, some sugar, and a lot of pomegranate molasses.

Hipcooks Persian Chicken with walnut and pomegranate sauce

Part of the Hipcooks philosophy is to throw out your measuring cups and do everything in handfuls and dashes. Then you taste everything as you cook and make changes as you go. In one particularly dramatic case, our instructor Jessica, after having tasted the simmering chicken with walnuts and pomegranate sauce, upturned and poured an entire bottle of pomegranate molasses into the sauce.

Hipcooks Persian Jeweled Saffron Rice

The other side of the class worked on Shirin-Polow, which is a jeweled saffron rice dish with chicken. Our instructor said that this is a traditional wedding dish. The saffron rice is jeweled with almonds, pistachios, orange zest, and dried barberries. (Dried barberries are a lot like dried cranberries.) This dish is created by layering the chicken in between the rice and then cooking it until it becomes like a casserole.

Hipcooks Persian Immersion Dish

Here’s what it all looked like. This isn’t my dish and so it’s got some flatbread on it, which is not gluten-free. (Sorry – the photo of my dish didn’t turn out because of the lighting.) After the dinner, we also had some rosewater and cardamom ice cream with caramel over slices of orange.

Our only real complaint about the class was that it was a little cold in the room. Otherwise it was a perfect evening. The wine was wonderful, the people in the class were very friendly, and our instructor, Jessica, was enthusiastic and sensitive to the people in the room with food allergies. Besides me there were three other gluten-free people (Hi Susan and Maggie!) in the class and a few lactose intolerant folks.

The food was amazing. I’ve never quite had anything like it, and now I’m anxious to try some more Persian food. We had two people in the class who had Persian family members and they were able to attest to the authenticity of the finished dishes. I was especially enamored of the Khoresht Fesenjaan, which I will definitely be making again sometime soon. I love recipes that need no adjustments to make them gluten-free friendly.

Hipcooks sends you the recipes on the day after the class. Classes are listed at the beginning of each month on the Hipcooks website. Not all the classes are gluten-free, so make sure you look for that. The classes happen on North Williams just across the street from Pix Patisserie North (see our review of gluten-free desserts at Pix Patisserie). Did I also mention that the classes are very affordable? We’re used to seeing classes cost twice this much.

We want to know: Do you have a favorite place to take cooking classes in Portland Oregon? And even more important, can someone recommend a good Persian restaurant in Portland? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: once (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same and very reasonable.

Hipcooks Portland
portland.hipcooks.com
3808 N Williams Suite 120, Portland, Oregon 97227

Restaurant Review: Hawthorne Fish House

We’d been to the Corbett Fish House before, and it almost seems like a landmark. You can’t say “gluten free” to someone in Portland Oregon without hearing about the Corbett Fish House. The Hawthorne Fish House is run by the same people.

Serious About Gluten-Free Food

Almost everything at both restaurants can be had gluten-free. In fact, we were notified by our server that they just started carrying gluten-free buns, so all the sandwiches are good to go as well. The Hawthorne Fish House seems like an English pub but cleaned up so it’s family-friendly. The Corbett Fish house seems a little more upscale. Both have a full bar. They both have almost identical menus. Both also seem to have brought space age technology to fried fish.

Our waiter at the Hawthorne Fish House was friendly and helpful. He was able to answer our questions without having to consult a list or the kitchen. The food came out very quickly. The decor is interesting. Almost every square foot of the restaurant has a plastic fish or a picture of a fish in it. They also serve gluten-free beer. One last note: They follow the guidelines of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood List, which we think is really cool.

Hawthorne Fish House

I don’t know about anybody else, but I tend to equate fish and chips with dive bar food or English pub food, or a place like Two Jacks in the Lower Haight in San Francisco. Fish and chips should be greasy. It should be served on oil-spattered paper in a basket. There should be too much batter on some of the fish and not enough on the rest. The batter should be flavorful. There should be one piece of fish in the the batch that looks strange and you will have to debate if you should or shouldn’t eat it. The fish should be cod. The entire place should smell like vinegar. The table tops should be carved up to heck. The person handing you the fish should be wearing too much eye make-up, have artfully huge runs in her stockings, and be wearing Doc Martens. Or it should be a strangely skinny guy wearing all black and sporting a bad moustache. Am I painting a clear enough picture here?

I guess what I’m getting around to saying is that when I want some fish and chips or a fried fish sandwich, I don’t think to myself, “Where can I get myself a nice, healthy, sanitized version of an unhealthy, greasy, battered dish?” Maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it, but there it is.

Gluten Free Fish and Chips

I can see the appeal of the Hawthorne and Corbett Fish Houses. They deliver a consistent product, and I think that for people who are looking for what they have to offer, they can’t be beat. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that if you really love both restaurants, I think I can understand why and I won’t even hold it against you. I’m just going to have to keep hoping that a greasy, unhealthy, gluten-free place shows up to offer me a nice fried fish sandwich.

Gluten Free Fried Fish: Click here for our breaded fish recipe.

We want to know: Do you love the Corbett Fish House? Are there any differences between the two fish houses that we missed? Are there other places for a person on a gluten free diet to get fish and chips in Portland Oregon? Let us know!

Times we have visited: 2 (So we feel pretty good about our rating.)
Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Hawthorne Fish House
www.corbettfishhouse.com
4343 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, Oregon 97215 / 503.548.4434

Restaurant Review: Iorio Italian

Iorio is an upscale Southern Italian Restaurant on the 900 block of SE Hawthorne. In addition to winning the Portland CitySearch Best Italian Restaurant award for 2008, they are “committed to providing sustainable local and organic” food and will accommodate any dietary restrictions. For gluten-free folks and people with celiac disease, they have a number of nice options, and can modify some of the items on their menu to suit. In the case of the pastas and gnocchi, they ask that you call one day ahead.

Lots of atmosphere at Iorio

Lots of atmosphere at Iorio

We were a little nervous when we arrived at the restaurant, because it was basically empty. However, by the time we got our entrees the restaurant had begun to fill up. The restaurant is upscale and a larger than usual number of people were dressed up (for Portland, that is.) Our waiter was knowledgeable and also asked the chef some questions for us.

Horay! Calamari!

Horay! Calamari!

One thing that we got excited about immediately is that their award-winning calamari can be prepared gluten-free, so we ordered that, and it was delicious! Calamari was one of the things that I had recently figured I wouldn’t be eating again any time soon, so it was a nice treat.

We also got the Caesar Salad, which they serve with whole leaves. This turned out to be disappointing. It needed pepper, lemon juice, anchovies, and croutons. The calamari was so good we found ourselves surprised at the Caesar Salad.

Next came the gluten-free gnocchi and fresine pasta. The fresine is made with fresh pasta and a red sauce and can be ordered with either meatballs or sausage. The gnocchi is served with pesto. The best item from either dish was the meatballs. They were outstanding. Next, I would say the fresh pasta was good. It was a little inconsistent somehow, but ended up being way better than the standard rice noodles you can get at the store. The tomato sauce, however, was disappointing. It was sweet and sort of flavorless. Even worse were the gnocchi. They were so salty that we couldn’t taste the pesto. It was like eating the dead sea salty. I can only imagine that it was that bad by some fluke.

Iorio Fresine

Last, they had a gluten-free chocolate flourless cake with a scoop of vanilla gelato and raspberry sauce. The presentation was delightful and the cake was warm like it had been cooked especially for us. It was really amazing. Like really really mindblowingly amazing.

Wow wow wow

Wow wow wow

All of which left us scratching our heads that a restaurant could be so good and yet so bad at the same time. On the plus side, they have gluten-free versions of some exciting dishes. Here’s how we scored everything:

Calamari – 5 out of 5
Gnocchi – 1 out of 5
Meatballs – 5 out of 5
Gluten-free pasta – 3 out of 5
Red Sauce – 2 out of 5
Caesar Salad – 1 out of 5
Chocolate cake – 5 out of 5

Later note: It seems like the service there is spotty, so we’ve downgraded their rating.

Times we have visited: 4 (So we feel pretty good about this rating.)
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same price. Most dishes are around $18.

Iorio
912 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97214

Product Review: Mary’s Gone Crackers

crackers-dscn2854We found a gluten-free cracker we really like. They’re made from brown rice, quinoa, flax seeds, sesame seeds, black pepper, gluten-free soy sauce, and sea salt. They’re organic, kosher, non-gmo, vegan, have no hydrogenated oil,  contain 450 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving, and are manufactured in a wheat-free, gluten-free, and nut-free facility. I don’t know about what anybody else thinks, but to me it just seems over the top!

Great for you if you’re on a gluten free diet

Sienna and I both really like them. Those of you with nut food allergies can have them as well. They are very crispy and have a nutty flavor with a nice peppery overtone to it. They also remind us a little bit of the raw foodist-style “dragon crackers.” They are simply perfect for hummus.

Everything looks better when photographed next to a lemon.

Everything looks better when photographed next to a lemon.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same price as crackers we compared.

Mary’s Gone Crackers – Black Pepper Crackers

Restaurant Review: P.F. Chang’s

Happy Year of the Ox! In honor of the Chinese New Year, I decided to review our one Chinese restaurant on the restaurant list. P.F. Chang’s is a restaurant chain and the Portland Oregon branch is in the Pearl, about a block away from Powell’s on Couch. It is large, popular, and always seems to be 85% full.

terra-cotta-soldiers-dscn2913

Our Executive Researcher, Sienna, was out of town visiting her family, so I had to go it alone. I’m going to apologize because the food photos aren’t up to my usual standards. I was sitting at the bar with not one, not two, but three bartenders watching me. As a result I felt conspicuous taking photos of my food with a camera, so I covertly used my phone instead.

P.F. Changs has a completely separate gluten-free menu. It is very brief, and strangely omits all beef and pork dishes, but there’s enough on it that most people will probably be able to find something they want to eat. They even have a gluten-free appetizer, soup and a dessert. They also have a full bar.

I started with some Egg Drop Soup, which was a little salty for my taste, but the flavor was right. For my entree, I got the Lemon Chicken. The chicken comes breaded, which was a nice surprise, and is served with brocolli and thin slices of lemon. The whole dish smelled like garlic when they brought it out, which got me excited. Unfortunately, besides the garlic, the flavor of the dish was a little underwhelming. The chicken was done right, but I found myself eating the chicken with the lemon slices to provide flavor. Also the brocolli was overdone. At some point, I got to an area where the chicken had enough sauce on it, and suddenly BAM it was good. So the sauce is good they just need to hit all of the chicken with it. (Doh!)

lemon-chicken-img008

I finished the meal with their gluten-free dessert, the Flourless Chocolate Dome. This is a seriously chocolatey confection served with raspberry sauce and fresh berries. Imagine a quarter-inch thick piece of chocolate cake with something akin to a piece of fudge on top. I didn’t manage to make it through the whole thing, but I liked it.

chocolate-dome-img009

Notes from a second visit:
P.F. Chang’s has gluten-free soy sauce they can bring to your table. Our rice was dry like it had been left out and then microwaved. The Singapore Street Noodles are awesome! Very much like fried rice but with rice noodles. The Spicy Chicken is good but suffers from the same problem I had with the Lemon Chicken and that is: Not enough sauce. Maybe I should ask for extra sauce next time.

To wrap it up, I think P.F. Chang’s is a good place to get Americanized Chinese Food. I’ve eaten there before and I would go there again. Another nice thing about P.F. Chang’s is that they have their nutritional info available. When I was finished, the bartender brought me a fortune cookie, but he didn’t know if it was gluten-free or not. I figured it wasn’t, but I still broke it open to get my fortune. It said: “Your efforts in a critical area will soon be rewarded.” That sounds good to me!

Times we have visited: 3 (So we feel pretty good about our rating)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same price. Most dishes are around $12.

P.F. Changs
1139 NW Couch St.
Portland, Oregon 97209

Restaurant Review: Picazzo’s Gourmet Pizza

Note to the reader – Picazzo’s changed their name to Sellwood Pizza Kitchen in May 2010.

We are excited to present another gluten-free pizza review. Not just because we love pizza but because there’s another place in Portland Oregon with good gluten-free pizza.

picazzos-1-dscn2719

By now your author is used to frequenting restaurants and having to forego the delicious bread-based appetizers because of his gluten free diet. Like that wonderful bread they serve at Lebanese restaurants, or bruschetta, or just plain sourdough bread with red wine vinegar and olive oil. So if you’re like me, when you read “Garlic Cheese Bread” on an appetizer menu, you skip over it quickly to spare yourself the pain. But wait! Here at Picazzo’s you can eat the Garlic Cheese Bread!

So let’s talk about the restaurant. It is part of a small chain of gourmet pizza restaurants. It is in Sellwood, which is a little out of the way for us, but not so bad when you use the Sellwood bridge. The restaurant is relatively new and very clean. They serve beer and wine, salads, and gourmet pizzas.

Most of you probably already know that the words “gourmet pizza” means two things: 1) It’s a little more expensive than most. 2) They have weird pizzas like “Shrimp, Smoked Bacon and Gorgonzola” with an alfredo sauce. The good news is that you can make your own too. We got a half and half of two different vegetarian pizza varieties: Nonna’s Favorite and the Pesto and Artichokes. We thought both were very good, but wished that they were a little more flavorful. Otherwise I think we would have given them our “Best Italian Restaurant” award.

picazzos-pesto-and-artichokes-dscn2721

I know what you’re thinking: “OK! OK! Get on with the crust!” Yes. the crust is excellent. We felt ours was a little undercooked, but really even still it was excellent. Their crust is more like the bready chewy thin crust that is crunchy on the bottom, and is so much like the real thing that I actually asked our waiter if they didn’t bring us the wrong kind of crust. That was when our waiter started bragging about how there is only one item on their menu that can’t be made gluten-free. Even their sandwiches can be made gluten-free.

picazzos-nonnas-favorite-dscn2723

The wait staff was friendly, the pizza was excellent, and we were very happy. If you are on a gluten-free diet or have celiac disease, Picazzo’s is a great place to eat!

Later note: We just went by recently (January 2010) and their crust is EVEN BETTER. Before it seemed a little undercooked. Now it is very crisp and hard to tell from the real thing. They also have delicious cookie desserts which are gluten-free. We tried the chocolate chip cookie and it was excellent. It’s kind of like a large cookie baked in a dish that they serve with ice cream. The cookie ends up being a little uncooked in the center so it’s gooey. If that sounds good to you then I suggest you try it!

Times we have visited: 4+ (So we feel pretty good about our rating)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same price, although the restaurant itself is a little expensive.

Picazzo’s Gourmet Pizza & Salads
8000 SE 13th Ave
Sellwood, Oregon 97202