Q: I was wondering if you could tell me where I could find a gluten-free pizza in Naples. My wife and my daughter are on gluten-free diets, and we would love to find an eating establishment that sells gluten-free pizzas. Thanks.
— Jerry, Naples
A: That's a great question, Jerry. My wife and son also are on gluten-free diets, so I happen to know a lot about this topic. The continual diagnoses of Celiac disease and wheat allergies makes this a growing issue.
We are always searching for the perfect gluten-free or GF pizza, which must look, taste and feel as much as possible to a traditional pie made with wheat flour, and must be reasonably priced. Although this sounds simple enough, it's just not easy to find an acceptable pizza.
First of all, outside of the variety of frozen GF pizzas at Whole Foods or area health food stores, not enough options exist in this market. Perhaps, this column can draw out additional choices in the area.
Unfortunately, two local places to enjoy fairly good GF pizza closed within the last few months in North Naples. We frequented Cafe Alessio, and sampled Uno Chicago Grill a few times. Alessio's had the better pizza; Uno's had the better price.
I now know of two area restaurants offering GF pizza. Caffe Portofino, formerly Naples Famous, recently started offering a decent GF pizza. My wife enjoyed it so much, she ordered another the next week, only to find out that Caffe Portofino ran out of GF dough.
Owner Rolan Richard hopes that another shipment of GF pizzas arrives this week. He placed a large order, but had yet to receive it by press time.
After first trying a fresh product with a rice flour crust, Richard abandoned the idea because of the possible wheat flour contamination in his busy bakery. He found it best to make and freeze the pizzas. Now, his supplier ships him frozen pizzas.
Caffe Portofino, 8595 Collier Blvd., East Naples, sells the large pizza, which is smaller than his traditional large pizza, for $10.99, with toppings for $1.50 each. The business also offers three GF cookies, and Richard said he is working on a GF Italian cheesecake.
A second regional place offering GF pizza is Aurelio's in Gulf Coast Town Center in Estero. Although it's a Chicago-based chain, the Aurelio's in Naples does not offer GF pizza.
Aurelio's GF pizza is about the diameter of a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza. It may be the only game in town today, but my family won't be giving the pie a second chance any time soon.
I called around to many of the restaurants on our list of gluten-free dining spots in Collier and Lee counties, but didn't find another local GF pizza option. CLICK HERE for the complete local list.
Until the recent economic slide, Fort Lauderdale-based Pizza Fusion had planned to open a location in downtown Naples. The small chain offers GF pizza, brownies and beer. Although the "coming soon" Naples address disappeared from its website, Pizza Fusion opened a Fort Myers location last year in the Bridge Plaza, 12901 McGregor Blvd.
As for pizzas available in freezer cases at area stores, my family and a co-worker on a GF diet prefer the pizzas made by the Bella Monica FlatBread Co., based in Raleigh, N.C. The 9.5-inch frozen pizzas with rice flour crusts retail for $11.99 in three varieties: Spinach & Tomato, Mushroom & Herbs, and Margherita.
On a related subject, another reader is looking for a good replacement for the deep-dish pizza she used to eat at Frascati's Italian Restaurant before it closed this year. Any ideas?
More area restaurant news:
■ The Bay House, 799 Walkerbilt Road, will reopen Oct. 20 after being closed since Mother's Day. The North Naples restaurant on the Cocohatchee River is undergoing the first of two remodeling phases.
■ Mimi's Cooking, 2099 Pine Ridge Road, North Naples, recently reopened with a new decor and new menu.
■ Cafe Barcelona, 336 13th Ave. S., reopened Friday after the downtown Naples tapas restaurant closed for the slow season.
■ La Ola opened Friday in the former location of Burrito a Go-Go in Fort Myers Beach. The Mexican restaurant is located at the gateway to Times Square at 1035 Estero Blvd.
Find a complete archive of “In the Know” at naplesnews.com/intheknow.