The new Blaze Pizza restaurant at the River City Marketplace looked interesting, so I decided to check it out.
Blaze tries to set itself apart from the crowd with its "blazing" hot oven that it says can bake a pizza in 180 seconds, and it does have a gluten-free option. I did find this caution on the chain's website about the gluten-free pizzas:
"Please be aware that our folks work with wheat-based flour and pizza dough all day long, and we use the same oven and dough press for both gluten-free and standard dough, so there is a good chance of some cross-contact in our restaurants. If you would like us to change our gloves or use a separate pizza cutter, we would be happy to do that at your request. If you are celiac or highly sensitive to gluten, we encourage you to carefully consider your dining choices."
Most pizza places warn about cross-contamination because they don't have separate prep areas or ovens for gluten-free pizza. The big difference at Blaze is that it takes pizza dough and presses into a crust when you order the pizza. Most places with gluten-free pizza use pre-made gluten-free crusts, rather than rolling their own gluten-free dough.
When I ordered my pizza, the Blaze people did ask if I have an allergy and seemed to understand the need to take precautions. In addition to changing gloves, they also told me they would clean the dough press before putting my gluten-free dough in. The worker even apologized to me for the delay, but I said not to worry and that I appreciated the effort to make it clean.
After the crust is pressed, they assemble the pizza in front of you, like they do at a lot of pizza places these days.
I have to say it took a lot longer than 180 seconds to bake my pizza, although unfortunately I didn't time it. I get the feeling that the gluten-free crust takes longer to bake.
When the pizza was done, it was somewhat disappointing because it was extremely thin. Gluten-free pizzas are generally thin, but this may have been the thinnest one I've had. It did taste good.
The price was right. I ordered a one-topping pizza, which normally goes for $6.50, but they have a $2 surcharge for gluten free. Fortunately for me, the checkout girl didn't seem to realize I was getting a gluten-free pizza so she forgot the surcharge, and I got my pizza for $6.50.
So, there is a cross-contamination risk at Blaze, mainly based on how confident you are about them cleaning the dough press. Otherwise, the risks are about the same as they are at other pizza places.
I did feel comfortable enough, but I'm unlikely to go back because of the thinness of the pizza. There are plenty of other gluten-free pizza options out there.