One of the hardest things to get right in a gluten-free dish is texture. Especially when preparing favorite foods with a crust. For years, I’ve been constantly on the hunt for good gluten-free pizza. Not pizza I make at home, but pizza we can order in or go out to eat.
You know–a treat.
My favorite pies exist on opposite ends of the pizza spectrum: Chicago deep-dish and New York-style thin crust. Unfortunately, I’ve had to give up Conan’s Pizza, a beloved staple of my Austin childhood. Oh, how many of my teens years were spent with friends enjoying a Savage and admiring Frank Frazetta’s artwork at the Anderson Lane location? (Answer: a lot.) So far, nothing gluten-free replicates that amazing crust.
I discovered true New York-style pizza when my oldest daughter attended college at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). The school’s smack dab in the heart of NYC, and she quickly found a little midtown corner pizza joint to frequent. When we came to visit, she introduced us to Rosa’s Margherita pizza–thin, cheesy slices with basil and tomatoes–and demonstrated proper etiquette (fold that slice). Yum. Sadly, we don’t get to NYC that often and Rosa’s at W. 27th and 7th St. has since closed.
I’m happy to say, though, that there’s an Austin-based option for delicious New York-style pizza with a tasty gluten-free crust: 3 Train Pizzeria.
When Your Friend Owns a Pizzeria, Life is Good
My friend Kristin Shaw loves New York-style pizza so much that she bought a restaurant. Shaw and I met when I auditioned for Listen To Your Mother (you can read about my experience with the 2015 show here: “Listen to Your Mother–13 Sisters and the Gift of Being Heard”). Since then, she’s become one of my role models in this whole blogging and writing adventure. When she mentioned she was looking for people to review their new venture, I happily obliged.
A while back, Shaw received an email from Living Social, one of those “buy this and you get that” coupons for a northwest Austin eatery, Brooklyn Pie Co. A New Jersey native, Shaw said she fell in love with the slice of home: “Our family went every single Friday night for about a year,” she recalled. “We were regulars for more than four years.”
It turned out that co-owner John Dellamarco had a little girl almost exactly the same age as Shaw’s son. The two families became close. When Dellamarco was looking to change up ownership, the Shaws talked it over. Kristin’s husband, Will, thought the place would be a good investment and in March 2016, the Shaws and Dellamarcos reopened the restaurant as 3 Train Pizzeria, named after one of the subway lines running through Manhattan.
Gluten-Free Pizza, Please
The hubby and I went on a Sunday night after our weekly visit with my folks, who still live in the northwest Austin house where I grew up. It was early, and the evening was dark, wintery, and rainy, so the place was quiet. Sure enough, Dellamarco was behind the counter. He explained that the gluten-free pizza came in one size (12 inch) and we ordered the “Johnny the Greek” pie and a salad, which Dellamarco recommended sharing.
3 Train is a simple place. You order at the counter and then find a seat. It reminded me a lot of Rosa’s–it’s really all about getting that steaming slice of pizza on the ubiquitous red-checked paper–with the primary difference being that 3 Train is much bigger and not cafeteria style. I opted for a cute little glass of wine to go with my meal; Hubby grabbed a beer. Drink selections are limited, but Shaw did tell me that diners can bring their own bottle of wine and pay a corkage fee.
We’d wondered if the 12-inch pizza and salad would be enough for two people. YES. The salad was huge and fresh; the pizza was piled with toppings. The crust was very satisfying; crispy, light, and–here’s the important part–foldable. In fact, I had to fold to make sure all the toppings stayed trapped on their cheesy bed. It really did take me back to that little NYC dive and late-night pizza slices with our girl.
And we came home with enough pizza for two lunches.
For those with food allergies, 3 Train’s menu clearly spells out ingredients: the gluten-free crust is made with Smart Flour (blended sorghum, amaranth, and teff); the regular pizza crust is vegan (no eggs) and contains wheat flour, yeast salt, sugar, corn oil; the red sauce is vegan; and the pesto is nut-free but contains dairy.
I’m excited to have discovered 3 Train Pizzeria. It’s close to my folks’ house and solves that impromptu family gathering issue of feeding a crowd quickly while accommodating one gluten-free eater. And the hubby and I have a great option for going out, grabbing a slice, and supporting a friend’s business.
Now that’s a pizza that delivers.