"Growing up," confessed Nick Gambino of Cucina Paradiso, "I had pasta every day."
He still loves pasta… and fresh Italian bread. When his restaurant receives its daily shipment of bread still warm from the bakery, he cuts himself one six-inch piece. That's his daily allotment.
Like Gambino, I grew up Italian, and wheat was a big part of our diet.
As I mentioned recently, however, we're trying to eat gluten-free, and so I've been seeking out non-wheat alternatives to pasta, bread and pizza.
At Cucina Paradiso for dinner, we ordered one of my pizzas: arugula and prosciutto. This time, though, we had it on a gluten-free crust, prepared with a combination of non-wheat carbohydrates, including rice flour as well as potato, tapioca and corn starch, and a few oils: olive, vegetable and canola.
That's a more complicated combination than the standard wheat flour crust, but it was worth the effort.
This was probably the best gluten-free crust we've had.
Did we like it as much as wheat crust?
I'm not sure that's the right question. Gluten-free crust is a different kind of baked good, and I think it's important to try to appreciate it on its own, without trying too hard to make comparisons with wheat crust.
The gluten-free crust was chewy, crunchy but not at all dry, and somewhat buttery, which provided a good contrast to the arugula.
As with gluten-free pastas, there's a $3 upcharge for gluten-free pizza. As Gambino explained to me, "That's because gluten-free is like three times as expensive as wheat."
No doubt, most people prefer wheat-based pasta, bread and pizza; it's what most of us have enjoyed all our lives. But if you have to avoid gluten, or if you just want to limit your gluten intake, the non-wheat pizza at Cucina Paradiso is a good and delicious way to go.
I'm always glad to see local businesses offer gluten-free products, and it'd be great if more had the will to do so.