Behind the Line

Cecconi's, Harry's, and Ironside Do Gluten-Free Pizza Right

Gluten-free pizza can taste like, well, gluten-free pizza. Think pale, chalky and matzo-like, which isn't exactly anyone's idea of appetizing. But with celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the small intestine) affecting about one in 100 people, and an increase in the number of folks complaining of gluten sensitivity, it only makes sense that restaurants are upping their gluten-free offerings — pizza included. 

Cecconi's Miami Beach, Harry's Pizzeria, and Ironside Pizza all serve gluten-free pies, and guess what? They taste like pizza. Chef Sergio Sigala of Cecconi's at Soho Beach House says the decision to offer gluten-free pizza was based on demand from regulars. Consequently, the elegant Italian spot now has a designated gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian menu to accommodate dietary restrictions. 

To make the crust, Sigala uses gluten-free dough made with rice flour. Once it's formed, the pizza goes on a special pan before it's placed in a wood-fired oven to prevent it from touching the regular dough. For a person with celiac disease, ingesting food that's even been in contact with gluten can trigger painful symptoms. 

So the crust won't be dry, Cecconi's offers gluten-free versions only of its tomato-sauce-based pies. They're served during lunch and dinner in the restaurant's intimate courtyard. The pie with broccoli rabe, artichokes, and red peppers ($18) bursts with vibrant flavor. The crust is not as crisp as the regular pizzas and has an overall lighter taste. In fact, it's a welcome change to eat an entire pie and not feel uncomfortably stuffed afterward. 

Meanwhile, across the causeway, Ironside Pizza in Little River also accommodates people who can't or don't want to eat classic pizza. For an additional $4, any of the Neapolitan-style pies can be made using gluten-free dough that's kept separate and wrapped in cellophane. Then, upon request, the kitchen will cook the pizza on aluminum foil to avoid cross-contamination with regular flour. 
The "tonne," with tomato, mozzarella fior di latte cheese, tuna, and red onions ($18), has a perfectly charred crust that's best compared to a delicious cracker. The quality olive oil on the crust adds a nice kick, and tuna and onions are always a winning combo. What's great about Ironside is that it happens to be BYOB, not to mention the rustic eatery has a charming patio overlooking a funky garden. Dine in or take it to go. 

Also serving thin-crust, gluten-free pies is Harry's Pizzeria, which has outposts in the Design District and Coconut Grove. Harry's began offering gluten-free pizzas two years ago, but since New Times first wrote about the restaurant, it has gone the way of crimping the edges of its pies. Named after chef Michael Schwartz's son, the casual spot will make any pizza gluten-free for $2 extra. 
Toppings here veer from the traditional and include short rib and Gruyère; pesto and homemade ricotta; and rock shrimp with grilled lemon and manchego. If you order a regular pizza and one with a gluten-free crust, you'll struggle to tell them apart. Clearly, gluten-free pizza has come a long way, and at Harry's, you can even enjoy yours with a gluten-free beer. Now that's progress we can get onboard with. 

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Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.