|Visited On:||May 2, 2014|
|Gluten Free Menu:||No|
|Variety of Gluten-Free Options:||1/2|
|Overall Gluten-Friendly Rating:||1/2|
|Overall Dining Experience:|
|Price Range:||$15-$20 per person (including drinks and taxes)|
I first heard of Piez Bistro a few months ago, when a Facebook friend liked and shared their page. The picture of a gluten-free blueberry Danish posted one morning was enough to make me drool! Not long after, The Chronicle Herald posted a very positive review. This led to a conversation on Facebook and Twitter about their gluten-free options and practices. The owner’s young daughter has Celiac disease, leading her to create a gluten-friendly bistro. Although their kitchen is not completely gluten-free, everything is made from scratch on-site and they are very aware of cross-contamination.
Last Friday was a dreary day, and I was feeling under the weather due to an impending cold. I decided that some gluten-free pizza was just what I needed! We made the drive over to Dartmouth and arrived at Piez Bistro in the midst of the supper rush. All six tables were occupied, and the tables outside were out of the question due to the weather. There was also a lineup around the counter. However, that gave us time to review the chalkboard-style menu hanging over the order counter/kitchen area. Piez offers eight gourmet pizzas, or you can create your own from a massive list of toppings. All toppings are gluten-free and a homemade 9″ gluten-free crust is available at no extra charge. They also offer other bistro-style dishes, like nachos, wings, dips, soups, and pastas. As well, there is a cold case with a variety of salads, side dishes, and desserts. (That day, they had baked sweet potatoes topped with a chicken salad, a beef curry, and several other side dishes. Sweet treats included brownies, cheesecake balls, rocky road bars, and peanut butter balls. On the weekend, they have brunch-style options, like Danishes and frittatas.)
Beverage-wise, they have standard options like Pepsi and Jones Soda as well as some more unique and local offerings, like Propeller root beer and coconut water. They also offer two kinds of Propeller beer, Nickel Brook gluten-free beer, and one variety each of red and white wine. (There were also cases of some more local beers on the floor, and I heard the owner talking about switching to local wines once the summer offerings start becoming available, so it looks like their selection is going to grow in the coming months.) Everything can be eaten in or taken out (except alcoholic beverages, of course, which must be consumed on-site).
Once it was our turn, we ordered a 9″ Pizza Smoke Hut ($14.00), a 9″ Pizza Carne ($14.00), and a 9″ garlic fingers with bacon and cheese ($9.95). (This is way more food than we would normally eat, but we wanted to try several different things for review purposes. Plus, it is pretty rare to be able to order pizzas right from the menu with so many topping options!) We told the chef taking our order that I am gluten intolerant, and the person making our pizza was standing right next to her, which made me feel pretty confident in my meal. They asked if we wanted to eat in or take out, or defer the decision until our pizzas were ready. We decided to wait and see if a table became available, and sat down in front of the counter to watch our pizzas being made.
We also got to watch customers come and go. A lot of people asked about and ordered gluten-free items. Although it was extremely busy and there was just one person (the chef) taking orders, she was always very pleasant and willing to talk about dietary concerns. The man making the pizza often chipped in to help provide information about their gluten-free processes.
Just as our pizzas were coming out of the oven, two tables opened up. There was a bit of a scurry to get things set up for us, but we were soon settled in with our pizzas, drinks, plates, and cutlery. The gluten-free pizza crust was very thin (almost tortilla-like) and very soft (since it had literally just come out of the pizza oven), but had a good flavour. However, the toppings on both pizzas were outstanding. I can see why people are saying that this is the best pizza in Halifax/Dartmouth.
I tried the Pizza Smoke Hut first. It features roasted chicken, caramelized onions, green onions, bacon, and three types of cheese (Fontina, cheddar, and mozzarella). It was unlike any pizza I’d ever had – slightly sweet yet with a nice zing from the green onions. This is a perfect pizza for a hot summer day.
The Pizza Carne was next. This was totally different from the Pizza Smoke Hut, with Genoa salami, chorizo, bacon, meatballs, and two cheeses (Fontina and mozzarella). It was slightly spicy and very meaty, but not too heavy. It has been a long time since I had a meatlover’s-style pizza so I really enjoyed this one, too.
Between bites of pizza, we snacked on the garlic fingers. The real bacon and high-quality cheese made this a great dish. The homemade donair sauce was really great, too. We could have easily shared one pizza and the garlic fingers for our meal.
As we were eating, the owner walked through to chat with the customers. She noticed that all of our dishes were gluten-free and asked if either or both of us had Celiac. She asked how the food was and asked for feedback on the crust, since they’re still working on their recipe. She talked about how most things are made gluten-free (including their pastas and most desserts, which surprised me) since her Celiac daughter eats there often. It’s important to always let the staff know what your specific dietary needs are so that they can verify that what you’re ordering is gluten-free, but they are quite accommodating and very educated. I felt very safe eating at Piez and really appreciated their commitment to Celiacs.
Although we were both pretty full (and took two slices of each pizza to go), we had to try some of the desserts. We chose a rocky road bar ($2.75) and a peanut butter ball ($2.00) to go. We tried them later on that night and really enjoyed them. The rocky road bar had marshmallows, chocolate, a touch of peanut butter, and (I think) gluten-free pretzels to give it a nice crunch. It was so big I couldn’t fit it in one hand! The peanut butter ball was good, too, although it could have used more crispy rice to balance out the peanut butter.
All in all, we had a great experience at Piez Bistro. I’d recommend it to anyone (Celiac or not) looking for a great pizza served by friendly staff.
103-635 Portland Hills Drive (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)
Web Site: https://www.facebook.com/piezbistro