We have been enjoying Pizza 9′s gluten-free pizzas for a few months now, and my boys LOVE to have it delivered (the little things in life)!
First, About Pizza 9:
Pizza 9 was created by Hasan (Hass) A. Aslami along with Behrad (Rod) Etemadi. The original Pizza 9 opened on October 1, 2008 at 5305 Gibson Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108. The concept is based on other pizza restaurants created, owned, and franchised by Mr. Aslami in the Chicago area, as well as in other states and foreign countries. Plans are in place to open 15 franchised Pizza 9 restaurants in the Albuquerque area, then Pizza 9 will expand throughout the state of New Mexico.
Hass Aslami started operating a pizza restaurant in the Chicago area in 1986. He became incorporated in the state of Illinois in 1987 and began to sell franchises. These new business owners owned pizza restaurants offering delivery and carryout while some offered dine-in restaurants. The Corporation sold fifty (50) of these successful franchises, primarily in Illinois, but also in the states of Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania as well as two foreign countries. Mr. Aslami has owned other types of restaurants all over the world.
There are four locations in the Albuquerque area.
I recently had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look of my local Pizza 9, when the Rio Rancho store owner, Vu Nguyen, kindly invited me in for a tour (thank you Vu!).
The GF pizzas come in one size, medium (12″) and all toppings, except the meatballs, are gluten-free. Each GF pizza has a $4.00 surcharge to cover the added expense of gluten-free flours used in the crust. Pizza 9 has recently added gluten-free brownies to the line up (delicious) and they hope to eventually expand the gluten-free menu to include safe salads and quite possibly GF sandwiches.
The GF pizza crust and the brownies are not made at the individual Pizza 9 locations, rather they are made in a dedicated facility* (see note at the end of this post).
The ingredients of the GF pizza crust are: Tapioca, Amaranth, Sorghum, Teff, Potato Starch, Eggs, Olive Oil, Yeast, Honey, Sugar and Salt.
The ingredients of the gluten-free brownies are: Smart Flour (Teff, Amaranth and Tapioca Flour), Butter, Eggs, Brown Sugar, Granulated Sugar, Unsweetened Chocolate, Semisweet Chocolate, Baking Powder, Xanthan Gum, Salt, Cream, Vanilla.
The GF pizza crusts and the brownies are kept in a sealed package in the freezer and they pull them out as needed, to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
The gluten-free pizzas are baked on separate pans (above photo) from the gluten-containing pizza pans (below photo). What I really liked is the fact that the GF pizza pans are clearly a different style from the deep-dish pans used for the gluten-pizzas, no confusion!
I sat back and watched as Vu washed his hands thoroughly, then began to assemble my GF pizza and listened as he explained what they do. I was really impressed with his knowledge and the protocols that are put in place to make sure the GF pizzas are as safe as possible. Vu started out by cleaning the counter top before placing the pizza pan holding the gluten-free crust on the counter (the GF pizza pans have holes on the bottom of them). The deep-dish pans used for the gluten pizzas do not have holes on the bottom.
Pizza 9 keeps the dedicated gluten-free pizza sauce container in the refrigerator below. This adds another level of protection for the gluten-free customer by not having the GF sauce in the common area, where it would be easy for cross contamination to occur.
See the gluten-y container of pizza sauce in the pizza topping tray (next to the cheese)? Kudos to Pizza 9 for separating the GF sauce!!
I asked Vu if anything was baked directly on the oven’s conveyor rack (since the GF pizza pans have holes on the bottom). He said nothing was placed directly on the rack in the top oven (gluten-containing sandwiches are baked in a separate oven).
Pizza 9 has dedicated gluten-free pizza peels and the GF pizza is placed directly in the pizza box, before it is cut with dedicated GF utensils (below photos), WOO-HOO!
Gluten-Free Pizza Delivery, I never thought I would be able to enjoy this again!
We think Pizza 9′s GF pizza’s are quite possibly the best we have ever had. The crust, while thin, has the same flexibility as the gluten pizzas I remember (not a crispy, cracker-like crust, as with many GF crusts). It is so good that even my super picky nephew and brother-in-law loved it (they are the type that if you told them a carrot was gluten-free, they would think it tasted weird, which is just NOT the case anymore!!).
The brownie is delicious, both fudgy and cakey at the same time. The gluten-free brownies are $3.99 each.
The Rio Rancho location also does birthday parties for kiddos! Call Vu Nguyen for more details at 505.896.8999.
*Pizza 9 would not disclose the brownie and crust manufacturer’s information to me. The Rio Rancho store owner said this was simply to protect themselves from competitors, which I can understand, but for those of us with gluten sensitivity (which includes celiac disease), it is important to have that information available, so we can determine the level of risk for ourselves, if need be.
Had I not been so impressed with the owner’s knowledge and the steps taken to reduce the risk of cross-contamination, I would probably not order the pizza as often as I do without knowing where the pizza crust comes from.
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