Whether You're Gluten Free or Not, You Won't Want to Miss an Opportunity to Dine at Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen
Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen and its founder Rick Freedman have always been trailblazers in the dining world. Picazzo's was one of the first to offer a large choice of gluten free options on their menu -- even many years ago -- and with each passing year, their menu has become more gluten-free friendly. In fact, their entire menu is now gluten free, save for the option to order pizza with either their organic "original" crust or organic whole-grain crust (of course, they do have gluten-free pizza, too...more about that in a moment).
Whereas most gluten-free-savvy restaurants have a separate area of the kitchen for preparing their gluten free orders, Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen is the opposite. Their main kitchen is all gluten free, and they have a separate prep area and separate oven for their "regular" pizzas, which are the only gluten-containing items on the menu! There's not even a need to have "GF" notations on the menu, since everything is GF, save those two types of pizza.
Imagine going into a restaurant and being able to order literally anything on the menu. And we're not talking about a small restaurant with just a few items. Picazzo's has a huge menu with everything from their signature pizzas, pasta, comfort dishes, and salads to small plates, soups, and new quinoa bowls served with gluten free focaccia. Gluten free diners are in food heaven here.
At Picazzo's, you won't be served a pizza on a pre-made crust purchased from elsewhere. Picazzo's makes its own homemade gluten free pizza dough using a proprietary blend of gluten free flours that they've perfected over many years. They recently started offering a gluten free vegan crust, too. Because the crust is homemade, they are able to offer it in both a 12" and 16" size.
Just listen to some of the tantalizing pizza varieties they offer: Fig Gorgonzola, Peking Pork, Bacon Brie Basil, Baja Shrimp, Thai Peanut Chicken, and Roasted Potato and Brie (pictured above). Of course, if you're more of a traditionalist, there's Spicy Italian, Zo's White, Meaty Meaty, and Naples Margherita...and any other combination you choose from their list of sauces and toppings.
ALL of the pasta served at Picazzo's is gluten free. The pastas they use are fresh (not dried) and taste just like the "real thing." Many of their non-GF diners have no idea that what they're eating is even gluten free. Pasta varieties include fettuccine, linguine, and fusilli. Their three varieties of gluten free ravioli (five cheese, sweet potato, and butternut squash) are another special treat. They can be combined with a wide range of delectable traditional and innovative homemade sauces (all gluten free, of course).
Gluten free lasagna and gnocchi are also available. And just imagine being able to order GF breaded chicken or eggplant parmesan or various types of cannelloni! Some of their most popular menu items (in addition to their signature pizza, of course) are the Ravioli with Pesto, Ravioli Carbonara (shown above), Bianca Spinach Fettuccine, and Shrimp Scampi Linguine (pictured below).
As their name suggests, Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen strives to use organic ingredients whenever possible, and they also aim to use local and non-GMO ingredients. All meats are free of antibiotics, nitrates, and hormones. There are also over 50 vegan and vegetarian options noted on the menu.
Quality, freshness, taste, and nutrition are the focus at their restaurants, and their loyal guests couldn't be happier. When you can dine on such healthy, fresh, great-tasting food (and know that the risk of cross contamination is so minimal), it really takes the guilt and worry out of dining out.
Although you may feel a bit of guilt indulging in dessert, Picazzo's makes this indulgence worth every calorie. Just check out some of the gluten-free options available to you: Eva's Hot Apple Crisp, Cheesecake Brownie, and Ultimate Brownie (served with organic Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream or coconut ice cream). You may even be able to justify the Superfood Chocolate Pudding (made with avocados instead of dairy) as a "healthy" treat! (Picazzo's new Nutrition page spells out the calories, total fat, and saturated fat of each of their menu items.)
Picazzo's quality standards extend to their beverage selection, too. They offer organic coffee, organic hot and iced teas, organic lemonade, and organic wine. In fact, they have a very large wine selection (and some gluten free beers and hard cider, too) and offer half-priced bottles of (already affordable) wine on Tuesdays and Saturdays (yes, Saturdays!). If you're a fan of fancy cocktails, you'll love their unique and fun handcrafted spirits.
Picazzo's is open for both Lunch and Dinner. A great way to sample many of their specialties is by ordering one of their Lunch Combos in which you can combine pizza, pasta, or soup with a salad and beverage.
Even more fun is Picazzo's "Healthy Hour" from 3-6 pm, 7 days per week. Guests enjoy 50% off all small plates (like meatballs with artichoke hearts below), $1 beer, wine by the glass, and spirits. In fact, Picazzo's seems like a genuinely generous restaurant that constantly runs specials. You definitely get the impression that Picazzo's is not a business whose sole purpose is to make money...but rather, a company led by a visionary who wants to help people realize that eating healthy can be both delicious and affordable.
The only downside is that Picazzo's is only located in Arizona -- at least for now. How I would LOVE one on the East Coast! I think if there was a location near me, I'd be there several times per week! Gluten free travelers swear that it's almost worth a trip to Arizona just to dine at Picazzo's. They currently have locations in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Tempe, Flagstaff, and Sedona. And for regulars, it pays to get a free Picazzo's Rewards Card and accumulate points for each dollar you spend.
OK...now that I'm completely hungry and tortured writing this post, I'll ask if you've visited one of their five Arizona locations -- and what you thought. Please share your comments below. Better yet, take a few minutes to write a quick review of your experience on our GF dining review website, GlutenFreeTravelSite. That way, hundreds of thousands of other GF folks will benefit from your feedback when searching for GF-friendly places in Arizona! Read more about Picazzo's -- and link to their Facebook page and all the relevant pages of their website.