Domino's new gluten-free pizza is actually worth ordering

Domino's Pizza is not known for having the best pizza crust in the big-box pizza chain sphere of influence. Hell -- it isn't known for having the best pizza, either. So I was actually surprised when Domino's became the first major pizza-delivery chain to offer gluten-free crust (doing what smaller shops and local pie shacks have already been doing for years). I figured Pizza Hut would lead off, Domino's would follow suit, Little Caesar's would ignore the trend for another decade or so and keep focusing on its $5 ready-made pies, and Blackjack Pizza would continue to ignore every trend and simply remain the Arby's of pizzerias. According to Domino's, the gluten-free crust is made from water, rice starch, rice flour, potato starch and olive oil, and is as gluten-free as it can be while still being processed in the same kitchen as the regular wheat-flour crusts. A great big disclaimer window pops up on the computer screen if you try to order one online, basically covering the company's pineapples if someone with Celiac's gets a smidge of wheat and wants to sue the pepperoni out of Domino's.

Eat at your own risk, in other words.

Since Domino's foisted its crap-spackle "artisan" pizzas off on the public, I've been very suspicious of its efforts, but since I know plenty of folks who can't do gluten -- and they have it rough -- I decided to take one for the team and try a gluten-free pie.

When I attempted to order two gluten-free pizzas on the Domino's website, though, I discovered they are only available in the ten-inch small size. I'm thinking that Domino's is experimenting to ascertain customer demand, and may offer larger sizes later if enough people buy the smalls. I did the fun build-a-pixel-pizza thing and was ready to pay...when the site told me that I had to call for pricing. This is a lot like ordering the lobster on a restaurant menu and having to inquire about the current market price, which is expected to be high depending on availability.

So I called the store at 4030 Colorado Boulevard and ordered two pies, one with hamburger, bacon and jalapenos, and the other with anchovies, pineapple, jalapenos and tomato -- my personal favorite. They didn't have anchovies, so I got ham instead. Ham is a poor substitute for those beloved little salty, furry fishes, but that's the trade-off you often have to make when you're ordering from a big-box chain rather than a local pizzeria.

The pizzas were not cheap: Two small pies cost me $31.87, and with tip the bill was $35. (Please note: People who don't tip pizza delivery drivers who do their jobs well will go to Hades when they die.)

The pizzas arrived ahead of schedule, piping hot. And while I was miffed that the tomatoes were canned instead of fresh, this was Domino's, so I'd managed expectations. The thin crusts didn't look any different than the chain's regular thin crusts -- maybe a wee bit darker in color -- but I did notice that there was an unusual amount of char on the outside perimeter.

The crust had a chewy texture and was notably sweeter than the gluten crust, but it wasn't bad. I ate half of each pizza and finished the rest off later; the crust does get crunchy when it's cold, but no more so than regular thin crust.

My pizzas may have seen too much oven time, but since this is a new product, it may take employees a little while to get a handle on how long to cook this crust. In the meantime, though, I'd still recommend the gluten-free pizza for people who have gluten allergies. It's an unfortunate reality that they'll have to pay a higher price for the ingredients, processing and handling -- but if the alternative for Celiacs is to watch all their friends eat pizza while they're stuck with a salad, the few extra bucks are worth it.

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