Gluten avoiders looking for pizza are like the undead, staggering around moaning, drooling, eyes darting from venue to venue, minds foggy with memories of pizzas past and just enough brain matter left to keep hope alive. After all, we've eaten pizza in Chicago, New York, and Italy, and we know the difference between good crust and cardboard when we taste it. So we wander the barren landscape, searching, searching, searching. And get a sandwich at a local eatery? Even the undead have given up on that.
But Cibo Urban Pizzaria Café in Central Phoenix has a gluten-free menu that will make you feel human again.
Cibo can make any of its pizzas or sandwiches with gluten-free dough and bake it for you in its wood-fired oven. Yes. Fresh-baked. Not factory-made-reheated-dropped-on-your-plate-like-a-brick crust. But crispy-chewy-wood-fire-scented-hot-out-of-the-oven real pizza crust.
This weekend, a friend and I dropped in for lunch and shared a Genova pizza, with mozzarella, homemade basil pesto, roasted potatoes, white onions, and grated parmigiano, for $13.50. The pesto-potato topping reminded me of pizza I ate on the street in Rome. I felt the spark of life returning to my zombie brain.
Other choices include Margherita, with tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil ($10.50); Diavola, with tomato sauce, mozzarella and spice salame ($13.50); Salsiccia, tomato sauce, mozzarella and Schreiner's sausage ($13.50); Rustica, mozzarella topped with prosciutto crudo and arugula after the pizza is cooked ($14.50); and Di Notte, fontina, pecorino, gorgonzola, mozzarella and spicy salame ($14.50). You can add a fried egg, arugula, ricotta sausage or salame to any of them.
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We also split an M&M Saltimbocca sandwich, with organic almond butter and a choice of imported Italian marmalade (apricot or strawberry) for $7. We chose apricot. The sandwich, so sweet it could be a stand-in for dessert, was served on fresh-baked gluten-free bread shaped like a pita. Sandwiches are served with a choice of house salad, fruit salad, or chips.
I can't wait for a return visit to try the other sandwich offerings: Caprese, sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and pesto dressing; PLT, toasted prosciutto, mixed greens, tomato and spicy roasted bell pepper aioli; and Porcellino, homemade barbecue pulled pork with fontina cheese, all for $9 each.
Who knew a wood-fired oven in the right hands could save the world?