Last night I was invited to review the new gluten-free pizza at Fatto A Mano in Hove. Ever since this place I opened, friends have been raving about it – about the authenticity of the pizza, the quality of ingredients, the atmosphere of the place. And the whole time I’ve looked on with jealousy, knowing that being unable to eat gluten means I’m probably destined to enjoy sub-par pizza for all eternity.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I received an email announcing that all this time the team at Fatto A Mano had been secretly working on a gluten-free pizza dough and were waiting until they’d perfected the recipe before launching. I was excited (you know how I love my pizza, folks) but still sceptical. After all, I’ve never had a gluten-free pizza that didn’t obviously look and taste GF. Don’t get me wrong – Morelli Zorrelli is awesome – but when you look side by side at one of their GF and non-GF pizzas you know without doubt which is which.
The “official” launch of the gluten-free pizza happened the night before I visited, and when I started to see pictures of fellow bloggers’ pizzas I couldn’t believe it. The base looked light and fluffy, and had an ACTUAL crust rather than being all flat around the edges. People were saying it was the best gluten-free pizza they’d ever had.
So, it was with high expectations that I stepped into the restaurant. From the start the staff were lovely. We had a little table for two in the window, with a view of the whole restaurant and the kitchen with its huge stone pizza oven. There’s a terrace seating outside, looking out onto Church Road which I’m sure will be fabulous in the summer – I can’t wait to be sat there, eating pizza with a chilled CELIA lager.
The first question I asked was – as usual – about cross-contamination and suitability for coeliacs. I haven’t eaten gluten for ten years, and as long as I don’t ingest it I tend to be fine – but I always check so that I can pass on the right information. Currently, they can’t guarantee that gluten-free status of the pizzas due to the presence of wheat flour in the kitchen and on surfaces. Pizzas are also cooked in the same oven. I suggested that they could potentially do a gluten-free night once a week, on which no wheat flour is used in the kitchen and the surfaces and pizza oven are thoroughly cleaned beforehand – so let’s see what happens!
On to the pizza. When it arrived, even after seeing peoples’ photos, I could not believe how much it looked like a wheat pizza. It was a great size, the crust was fluffy – I’ve got used to eating very “flat” pizzas, so even the appearance was a surprise. I cut myself a slice and looked at the base – it was ACTUALLY risen, with pockets of air, and looked like “proper” pizza.
The taste didn’t disappoint either. Everything was delicious. The flour used is called Caputo, a family business based in Naples. According to Fatto A Mano they make the best gluten-free pizza flour, as that’s specifically what it was created for. After tasting this, I’m inclined to agree that it’s the best. I’ve Googled to see if you can buy it in the UK, and it’s about £6 a bag – so unless you trust totally in your pizza-making skills, it’s expensive to DIY. Personally, I think I’ll leave it to the Fatto A Mano chefs.
When it comes to GF pizzas I get so concerned with the base I sort of forget about the toppings, but the toppings here were phenomenal. You can tell that a lot of thought goes into choosing every ingredient. I went for the Norma Vegetariana which is topped with tomato, aubergine, smoked ricotta, mozzarella, basil, and parmesan. Yep, THREE different cheeses. Nicole ordered the Vegana – so I got to taste a bit of the famous ‘vegan mozzarella’ which was described by The Guardian as “the holy grail of pizza toppings”. Yep, it was good.
After stuffing myself silly on the pizza (I love it so much, I tend to get carried away) I barely had any space for dessert, but I couldn’t leave without confirming the rumours of Nutella-slathered gluten-free donuts. So we ordered the Scugnizzielli Nutella: fried pizza donut strips served with Vanilla Gelato. It. Was. HUGE. Way too much to follow the amount of pizza I’d eaten. Next time I might just come for dessert! I can confirm that the GF dough works just as well fried and slathered in sugar – and I don’t normally have a sweet tooth. These are cooked in the same fryer as wheat flour dishes, so like the pizza won’t be suitable for those with Coeliac disease. I really hope that they go with the idea of the gluten-free night…
Fatto A Mano has topped my personal pizza charts as the best gluten-free pizza in Brighton & Hove. There’s a £2 supplement for GF pizza, but the quality of the flour used makes it totally worth it – plus, even with the supplement the most expensive pizza on the menu is only £11.50. I’m moving back to Hove in a couple of months’ time, and fully expect to become a regular!
Words and pictures by Alice Reeves. The Gluten-Free Dining Guide was provided with a complimentary meal for the purposes of review, but all words and opinions are honest and the author’s own.