Gluten-Free Pizzas London, Rossopomodoro
Since opening in 1999, Rossomopodoro have ‘become Italy’s favourite pizza’ according to their website. In our experience, such claims don’t automatically apply to gluten-free offerings, and having heard at Taste of London last month that their gluten-free pizzas are every bit as nice as their regular pizzas we decided to visit them in their natural habitat so stopped by the Hoxton branch a couple of weeks ago.
Rossopomodoro prides itself on having Neapolitan chefs using Neapolitan ingredients to produce its food. They have six restaurants across London and one in Birmingham and have been growing in popularity as the UK turns away from soulless chains towards authentic and personal pizzerias. Their chefs are all trained in avoiding cross contamination and they only use gluten-free flour in the pizza preparation areas.
We started with a glass of Agloanico Pompeiano; red wine from Naples (obviously) and Parmigiana – Baked aubergines layered with smoked mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce and basil – on the recommendation of our waitress Silvia. Silvia, from Rome, explained the culture shock she experienced when having to live and work almost exclusively with Neapolitans. Apparently the rest of Italy sees Napoli as separate in culture, mindset and diet, and Neapolitans proudly embrace this. Silvia’s training included seeing how the mozzarella was produced and learning about Napoli and it was a nice touch to have a waitress who could talk in detail about what goes into the food. As for the food – with a dash of olive oil from Sorrento, the starter was warm and comforting and went perfectly with the deep and smooth wine.
Now for what we had come here for – the pizza. Whilst at Rosspomodoro the regular pizzas are built on dough that is produced in a machine on premises, the gluten-free bases are brought in from headquarters. These bases are made almost exactly the same way as the regular bases, with the only difference being the substitute of rice flour and potato flour in place of wheat flour. For possibly the first in my life I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have been able to tell that this base was gluten-free if I hadn’t known already, largely because it didn’t snap into pieces like most gluten free bases when sliced into. This is apparently down to employment of a wood-fire oven, which burns on average at 460C and cooks the pizzas in between 70 to 90 seconds, meaning the moisture content is retained in the dough and means the pizza base is light and fluffy, without the biscuity texture gluten-free foodies are accustomed to. Pleasingly, it also lacked the sweet after-taste that many gluten-free pizza bases I have tried seemed to have. I had the Capriciosa – tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, ham, artichokes and black olives and it was as good as any pizza I have had in the UK; whilst I know this claim isn’t quite as bold as ‘Italy’s Favourite Pizza’ is nonetheless a bold claim, and at £11.45 (with no additional charge for the gluten-free option) for a 12” pizza with generous toppings in trendy Shoreditch, you can’t really go wrong. My partner had a regular Ventura (mozzarella, parma ham, rocket and parmesan cheese shavings) and said that she honestly couldn’t choose between the regular and gluten-free base.
After another glass of wine each and a measure of limoncello to finish we said arrivederci and walked into the East London night.
Not only did we have the most authentic Neapolitan experience possible without jumping on a flight to Sorrento, the price of just under £80 for two courses, a bottle of good-quality wine and the limoncello, but I found my new favourite pizzeria, which for someone who worked in an Italian restaurant for almost ten years, is a big deal.
Rossopomodoro continues their takeover of London, having this week opened in John Lewis, to add to their branches in Camden, Chelsea, Covent Garden, Hoxton, Swiss Cottage and Wandsworth