Once a week, my son comes by to go to a movie or out to dinner with us, a time to touch base, to hear about his college classes, to hug him and kiss him and know that he's OK.
Picking a place to eat is always dicey; both he and my husband are adventurous, discerning diners, and I throw a spanner in the works with my celiac diagnosis. We regularly hit Green, we've done tacos to death, and Ted's is a standard haunt.
So, when I mentioned Spinato's Pizzeria, where I learned they had gluten-free crust, my husband, Tom, sounded practically giddy.
Tom earned his way through college and saved up for grad school by flipping pizzas at a local joint in Illinois. First, he delivered the pizzas, even getting held up at gunpoint. Then he baked them and managed the store.
When you make something, over and over, you either get to love it or hate it. I say this from experience, having made more root beer floats than I could possibly count at A&W. Today, I'll have one if you force me, but I wouldn't walk across the street to get it.
For Tom, it was love, not hate. He is a pizza connoisseur, and seeks out only the best, baked to perfection, the crust a nice even brown all the way across, not burned, not undercooked.
He remembered eating at Spinato's when we were first married, when they had a restaurant on East McDowell Road, and he's been longing to taste the sweet tomato sauce again.
We headed to the Tempe restaurant, where the helpful staff brought gluten-free garlic bread smothered in mozzarella, a dense, crusty, yummy appetizer. They also serve a gluten-free bruschetta.
Tom ordered an individual pizza, Nate had a calzone, and I went for the gluten-free pie with Canadian bacon and pineapple.
My pizza's crust passed the flipper's inspection, perfectly browned all the way across the bottom. And it was more soft and chewy than a lot of the crackerlike pizza crusts I've had since going gluten free.
When I asked what was in the crust, the server and manager quickly brought me a list of ingredients, which included rice flour, xantham gum and spices. They were knowledgeable and happy to share.
I walked out with a box of leftover pizza for lunch the next day and a happy family, gave Nate a hug and a kiss and went home satisfied and reassured.