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10 Best Gluten-Free Pizzas in L.A.

Pepperoni pizza at EVO Kitchen.EXPAND
Pepperoni pizza at EVO Kitchen.
B. Douglas

Pizza is something that invariably inspires heated debate.  Lately, it seems only one other thing invites such passionate argument: gluten. The gluten protein is what gives wheat dough its structure, loft and elasticity.  Which is why trying to find a really good gluten-free pizza has always been like looking for unicorns. Until now.  

If New York-style is your jam, you're in luck because the nature of gluten-free dough means every pizza is thin crust.  But they lack the soft, bubbly rim and flexibility of a N.Y. slice, existing instead as their own species — a hybrid of chewy N.Y. and extra crispy Roman style, often with a telltale sweetness that implies extra sugar added to give the yeast a boost.  

Given the time it takes to develop a workable gluten-free dough and the challenges of doing so in a kitchen where wheat flour reigns supreme, most restaurants source theirs from a handful of outside bakeries to ensure a quality product and less cross-contamination.  This is why the majority of GF crusts in L.A. are strikingly similar.  But pizza is more than just a crust; it's the sum of all its parts.  So, for this roundup, we looked at the balance of crust, sauce, ingredients and artistry to really decide the favorites. 

Z Pizza's sausage & mushroom.EXPAND
Z Pizza's sausage & mushroom.
B. Douglas

10. Z Pizza
Forget Pizza Hut and Domino's — as far as national pizza chain restaurants go, Laguna Beach-born Z Pizza does it better and more healthfully than the rest.  One of the first pizza joints in L.A. to offer a gluten free crust, Z Pizza really takes care to alleviate any concerns as to what is and isn't safe to eat.  They provide a separate menu listing the ingredients of their crust (rice, tapioca, potato flours), as well as all GF toppings which include organic tomato sauce, fresh produce and Daiya soy-free vegan cheese.  Unlike most other pizzerias, they offer a choice of small or large GF crust, which emerges with a browned, cracker-like outer edge and firm, chewy middle.  The combination of a well-calibrated sauce topped with an abundance of their Wisconsin mozzarella, mushrooms and additive-free Italian sausage make Z Pizza a deeply satisfying, classed up version of your favorite childhood party pizza.  Multiple locations; www.zpizza.com/locations.

"Red Vine" pizza at Blaze.EXPAND
"Red Vine" pizza at Blaze.
B. Douglas

9. Blaze Pizza 
From the Wetzel's Pretzels folks and chef Brad Kent of Olio Pizzeria in West Hollywood, Blaze stands out among the trend of speedy, assembly line, personalized pizzas by delivering a quality of ingredients that belies the low price tag.  Blaze has offered gluten-free pies since opening their first location two years ago, and their rice flour crusts are made in-house from a dough that's fermented for 24 hours.  Stand in line and choose one of their signature pizzas or DIY with as many toppings as you want for a flat $7.65 (plus the $3 GF crust up charge).  After "180 seconds" in a "blazing hot oven," you get 11 inches of the thinnest of thin crusts, all charred and smoky at the edges.  A slice of the signature Red Vine is soft enough to fold in the middle yet still holds together under the judiciously applied toppings, resulting in a pizza that is delightfully light and saucy. Multiple locations; www.blazepizza.com.

Lucifer's "Tradizionale" pizza.EXPAND
Lucifer's "Tradizionale" pizza.
B. Douglas

8. Lucifer's Pizza
This is the first GF crust that our gluten-eating companion said tasted like "real bread."  Rice flour clings to the bottom of the well-charred, neutral-tasting dough.  This crust requires a stronger contrast from the sauce, so don't pull any punches when they ask what level of spiciness you want — we recommend medium to "fiery."  And don't be afraid to pile on the fixings; the crust can take it.  Order a Greek salad, grab a table outside at the Melrose location to catch some late afternoon rays, and then — bonus! — pick up Babycakes treats for dessert at M Cafe next door.  7123 Melrose Ave., W. Hollywood. 958 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz; (323) 906-8603.



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