Ottawa’s gluten-free pizza: Melodie visits Bella Vista Restaurant
Melodie Cardin (Twitter) has lived in the National Capital Region since 2000. A 2007 graduate of Carleton University’s school of journalism, she’s now the Manager of Communications for a small project assisting Canadian researchers to collaborate internationally. Melodie has also blogged at Losing It In Ottawa, and plays roller derby with the Rideau Valley Roller Girls.
I began suffering from migraines in my early twenties and discovered that gluten is a major trigger. I went more or less gluten-free in 2009 (I can still have the odd bit, but I try to avoid it as much as possible.)
Four years ago, it was hard to find gluten-free alternatives in Ottawa. Now, Ottawa has become almost a haven for celiacs and others who suffer from gluten sensitivity.
In particular, the options for pizza have really taken off; even chains like Pizza Pizza and Gabriel’s offer gluten-free crust options, and plenty of the nicer, gourmet pizza places do also.
So for those poor souls out there who can’t just eat “normal” pizza – who makes the best?
There are a few in Ottawa I’m partial to, and lots more I’m ready to try.
My starting place is Bella Vista Restaurant, and this is partly because Bella Vista is one of the few places that has had gluten-free for a long time. (Also partly because I was at a party in the South end, so it was convenient.) It’s a bit off the beaten track for downtown folks like me, but it has a few things that set it apart.
Particularly, crust thickness. While many GF crusts are thin, (it’s hard to get a thick crust to hold together) Bella Vista’s is thick. I enjoy thin crust gourmet Italian-style pizzas very much, but I also enjoy a thick crust American-style pizza once in awhile, and this is what you’ll find at Bella Vista. Nothing inventive particularly inventive on this menu – combination, Greek, Hawaiian. I ordered a combination. It comes nicely cooked with the right amount of cheese – I’m usually a fan of more cheese, but I don’t like pizza that’s too greasy. The crust is crispy on the bottom, soft inside. It is a little denser and has a slightly more crumbly texture than a regular version, but it’s a very respectable facsimile. It’s sort of like having pizza on a ciabatta.
The gluten-free version is a little more expensive than the regular, but you can still get a large for under $30.
I do not like cold pizza, but I do like it reheated, so I partly judge a pizza on how well the leftovers warm up. (I heat it in my toaster oven, or even in the large oven, rather than the microwave, which I find makes the crust too soft.) Bella Vista’s is still good the next day although the slightly bizarre texture does become a bit more pronounced.
Bella Vista also gets points for doing take-out, delivery in the South end, and having a big eat-in restaurant that also offers gluten free pasta and lots of other options.
It’s not fancy – but it is family-friendly. I should mention that although they are knowledgeable and have been catering to GF needs for a long time, their kitchen isn’t dedicated.
Bella Vista: 7.5/10