The Garden of Earthly Delights
It is with great pleasure that I bring to you my first restaurant review! I hope to make this a regular occurence on The Brassica Diaries. Coincidentally, Dave at Gluten-Free Portland just reviewed this restaurant too. It must be the season for visiting the coast, and eating gluten-free pizza there!
First, let me say that I am a pizza snob. I don’t like just any pizza. Apizza Scholls is the platonic ideal of pizza in my mind. (If you’re not wheat- or gluten-free, go eat there! Now! I firmly believe it is the best pizza in the world.) I’ve only been eating strictly gluten-free for the past four weeks, so the taste of gluten-filled goodies has not yet faded from my mind or tongue. (In a future post, I’ll write a little bit about my history of food intolerances and why I switched to a gluten-free diet.)
The point is, I love pizza. So when A. and I decided to go camping at the Oregon coast this past weekend, I was excited to try the gluten-free pizza at The Pizza Garden in Nehalem, a breathtakingly picturesque little town about twenty-five miles north of Tillamook. I was a little apprehensive, too, because gluten-free baked items can sometimes taste pretty yucky, or have a terrible texture.
I needn’t have worried. The gluten-free crust at The Pizza Garden has a pleasantly mild, yeasty flavor, much like a wheat crust, with no funky aftertaste. The texture is crispy and chewy, not crumbly and mushy. It’s not Apizza Scholls. But it’s delicious. I was happy from my first bite, and thereafter.
The Pizza Garden has a multitude of topping options – you can choose from marinara, pesto, creamy garlic sauce, or garlic and olive oil as the base, a variety of cheeses, and a long list of veggies and meats. I chose the standard marinara/mozzarella combination, and kalamata olives and roasted garlic as my toppings. The marinara is flavorful, rich with wine and herbs, and made a great pizza.
The gluten-free pizza only comes in the small size, so A. and I each ordered our own small pizzas (mine gluten-free, his regular.) We were both really hungry, and ate about 3/4 of our pizzas. The leftovers reheated well in a fry-bake over a camp stove later that night. After trying a bite of my pizza, A. said that next time we should just get two gluten-free pizzas so we could get two kinds and share. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is!
As an added bonus, The Pizza Garden is colorful and inviting inside and sits right on the banks of the gorgeous, lush Nehalem river. We really enjoyed the gorgeous view of the mountains, forest and all the birds that make the river their home. We even saw a hummingbird zipping around out there!
The people who work at the restaurant are friendly and assured me (without me even asking!) that the gluten-free crusts are prepared entirely separately from the regular pizzas. They seemed proud to be creating a gluten-free product that customers enjoy and are excited about, and they should be. I really appreciate their consideration in creating delicious food for a population that doesn’t get catered to very much. Definitely pay them a visit if you’re visiting the coast and looking for a gluten-free treat.