The WORST pizza I ever LOVED.
This post is an ode to one of the worst tasting pizzas I have ever had. A celebratory tribute, one might say.
Last weekend, amidst the whole Domino’s “not-really-gluten-free ‘gluten-free’ pizza” debacle, I decided to make a statement with my dollars by purchasing some gluten free pizzas from another national chain which had quietly rolled out a line of GF pizzas: Chuck E. Cheese’s.
My daughter (one of the 2 celiacs in the family) has been to Chuck E. Cheese’s before….although we have either arrived after the birthday party has eaten their food, or I have brought a bag lunch for her to eat, and a home-made cupcake for her to eat while the rest of the birthday party-goers ingest greasy pizza and cake. Needless to say, the full Chuck E. Cheese experience was not something I ever expected my daughter to experience. (sometimes she asks when she will be allowed to have gluten…like we are punishing her or something, or that she will out-grow it….we try to explain that she never will be able to have it, but the concept of a LIFETIME of no gluten is a bit hard to comprehend for a 4-year old.)
So, we called up some friends (not celiacs) and made a playdate for Chuck E. Cheese’s. We got there, the kids ran around playing games with the oodles of tokens we purchased while we waited for the food to be made. Then the moment of truth: our pizzas were up.
(At this point, I should explain that the pizzas at Chuck E. Cheese are a bit larger than a personal pan pizza and are around $6. In addition, we ordered 2 of them, but everyone else at our table had a large pizza chock-full of gluteny-goodness.)
Let me say this: I was impressed.
Was I impressed by the extremely knowledgeable server who brought our pizzas to the table? Heck, no. Aside from looking like she was 14, she seemed pretty clueless as to what a gluten free pizza was.
Was I impressed by the amazing deliciousness of the GF cheese pizza? No…it tasted like crappy frozen-pizza from back when I could eat gluten…you know the kind – the brand you avoided buying even if it was on sale when you were in college?? Yeah. That one.
Normally the combination of these 2 factors would be a 100% guarantee that we would never eat at a restaurant again, HOWEVER, in this instance, I was extremely impressed BECAUSE…..
The clueless server didn’t matter. Somehow in the chaos of running a pandemonium-laden kid’s restaurant, the management at Chuck E. Cheese figured out a way to idiot-proof their gluten-free experience. That is right. Clueless server? Didn’t matter. Conditions in the kitchen? Not an issue. Our pizza arrived at the restaurant individually wrapped in a bake-able bag that it is cooked in, left sealed in, and delivered directly to our table in. No one who actually works in the restaurant actually touches any portion of my pizza other than the outside of the sealed bag. In addition, they come with an individually-wrapped pizza cutter that remains sealed, as well, and has the words “Gluten Free” printed in the handle. That’s right: it comes with its own cutter that you can either dispose of afterward, or take home for your kid to use with Soy-Yer Dough at playtime.
Ahhh….but back to the taste. Okay, I did exaggerate a little bit earlier. Back before my diagnosis I had tasted some pretty awful pizzas, and this really wasn’t the worst of them. Would I ever expect this pizza to win taste-tests though? No. It wasn’t great. But you know what? It wasn’t bad, either. It was mediocre.
But let’s face it, I wasn’t there for the fine dining experience. And it is for THIS reason that I give this pizza a 5-star rating. By creating this process, Chuck E. Cheese created an opportunity for my daughter to not only have her own party at Chuck E. Cheese some day, but to be able to attend other kid’s birthday parties and have pizza (nice and warm) brought to the table with theirs. She will be able to pretend that she is a normal kid like everyone else at the party. Heck, I would have eaten it even if it tasted like cardboard with melted cheese on top, and probably so would she, so I can say that in comparison, it does outshine cardboard. 🙂
And for dessert? They have individually-wrapped, GF chocolate cupcakes, as well. (Incidentally, these appear to be somewhat healthy (well, as healthy as a cupcake can be, really), as they are flavored and sweetened naturally, but I digress.)
She can take part in the complete Chuck E. Cheese experience. And I LOVE that she can do that. I love that there is a place where she can pretty much be a “normal” kid and for one aspect of her childhood social life, she doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines.
And for THAT, I love the pizza at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Who would have thought that I’d ever be promoting a bland, frozen pizza as the best dining experience in town? But here I am. Doing just that. So, GO TO CHUCK E. CHEESE’S: if you have / know celiac kids, I think you’ll be asking yourself the same question soon. And you’ll be happy to do so!
Oh! And my 4-year old? She thought the pizza was great. So it looks like the higher-ups at Chuck E. Cheese have their clientele figured out pretty well…. So I’d say this GF pizza is worth all of the game tokens in the world.