I may be handy in the kitchen, but sometimes, especially when it's 110 degrees, I just can't fire up the stove. It's so hot it drives me nuts. But my daughter and I have found a few great places to nosh this summer without breaking the bank or using too much gas.
The first place we love is PieZano's pizza place in the Town and Country shopping center. Located at 20th St. and Camelback Rd., it's pretty centrally located. This small restaurant tucked behind Trader Joe's (another one of my favorites, but that's another story) lets you build your own personal pizza. We like to call it the Pizza Subway. And even better, they carry GF pizza crust.
If you ask for the GF crust, right away the server changes his gloves and reaches for a special cooking tray. After the toppings are added (they'll tell you what is GF or not, but most things are) it's run through an oven on it's own tray so it doesn't touch the bottom where gluten has been. They even have a specially designated slicer for the GF pizzas. Now that's what I call service. PieZano's also carries GF Redbridge beer and GF brownies, although they are a little pricey for the small brownie you get. Wed. nights are GF nights with free brownie and $2 GF beer, more than enough reason to give it a try.
Picazzo's is a much more elegant type of eatery than PieZano's but just as good. There are a few of them dotted around the Valley, but we mainly hit the one on Scottsdale Rd. and Gainey Ranch. There is another one in Tempe off the I-10 if you're down that way.
Picazzo's has an incredible GF menu featuring pizza, foccaccia bread, dips, etc. Most everything can be made GF and it's worth it. The pizza tastes closest to real pizza, although a bit drier than PieZano's. The advantage to this one is that you can get an entire pizza. And the toppings are numerous. But, you will pay for this treat. Most GF pizzas will run you about $20 for a regular pizza, nothing special. When you pile on the toppings, you may need a second mortgage. But if anything, you must visit Picazzo's for dessert. A warm, half-cooked GF chocolate-chip cookie in a skillet topped with vanilla ice cream. It's amazing, and tastes more like a real chocolate-chip cookie than I have ever come across. I think I just like eating that, it's my favorite and worth the trip just for that, trust me. They also have a brownie along the same lines, but try the cookie, it rocks. I'll get a photo of the next one I eat.
Don't laugh, if I'm looking for a quick meal that's GF, it's hard to find. Ever been driving around and think you'd love to hit a fast-food joint? Being vegetarian and GF cuts those options down to one. But, the bean tostada or the crunchy taco (with beans instead of meat) are GF and quite satisfying. My daughter and I share a #8 (three tacos) and it's just enough, and it definitely won't eat too far into your wallet. Plus, without all the cheese and meat and fried tortillas, it's not so bad for you either. You can find Taco Bell anywhere, of course. Just remember to check the web site or ask if you're not sure. Of course, soft tacos and burritos are out of the equation, and I believe when I last checked the potatoes were not GF either.
Tucked away in the Albertson's shopping center at Thomas and Scottsdale roads is a great little Vietnamese restaurant. While in there one day, I spoke to the owner and asked about GF food. He was very accomodating and made a great GF/vegetarian rice noodle dish. It is just wonderful. It has veggies, tofu, and rice noodles in a great sauce made with GF soy sauce he keeps in the back. I've been back a few times and I'm never disappointed. Give it a try. They also have fried rice that can be made GF and it's great with tofu also.
Well, that's a few for now. I'm getting hungry. I had leftover noodles with sun-dried tomatoes, Roma tomatoes and garlic for breakfast. Yum! That will keep me going for the morning, but I'm getting hungry just thinking about all this great food. Let me know if you have any places in town you love. I'd love to give them a try.