December 13, 2010

Awesome Gluten-Free Pizza at Proto’s in Boulder and Lafayette

By Evan Sandsmark -  

After trying several different suppliers of gluten-free pizza crust, Proto’s, a well-regard pizzeria with with locations in North Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, Broomfield and Denver (and Boise, Idaho), finally settled on Clarity Foods of Longmont. The GF crust they make is the only one Proto’s had tried that crisps in the way that they want it to when baked. We think they made a nice selection.

The North Boulder Proto’s is located in that strange, but very nice, business district in North Boulder that lines the east side of Broadway. A few blocks south of Lee Hill Dr., this relatively new area houses fine restaurants, coffee shops, and stores, every one of which is on the same side of the street and within the same few blocks. The polished and modern buildings of this development are juxtaposed against the surrounding area, which consists of old storage spaces and gas stations, among a few other businesses, as well as some residential areas a little further away. For this reason, arriving at this area – Boulder’s Uptown, if you will – is a little bizarre. You’re driving up Broadway, mostly through homes, and then suddenly in the distance you see a trendy development that stands in contrast to its surroundings, rather like a clear, laconic sentence in a web of Emersonian prose. We have no idea why this location was chosen for this concentration of service providers, but the area is pleasant, and may even draw some action away from Pearl Street as it continues to attract new shoppers and diners.

So, that’s where Proto’s is, but what about the restaurant itself? Like most of the businesses in the area, Proto’s is located in a nice building with a pleasant interior. Yellow and red dominate the walls of the pizzeria, and the floors and tables are made of wood. There is a small bar near the entrance that can probably seat about 10 people – we imagine it would be a nice place to meet a few friends for a drink after work. The dining area stretches along the north side of the building, and since this wall consists primarily of large windows, anybody sitting at a table has a prime view of Yellow Pine Ave. and the people walking along it.

Although there were several salads from which to choose that looked delicious (especially the Tuscan Salad – there is a link to the menu below), we decided to focus exclusively on pizza during our visit. To this end, we immediately pored over the menu, closely examining the many pizzas available. Since any pizza can be made with a gluten-free crust, almost the entire menu was open to us. (All the GF crusts are the same size, however, so you can only get medium GF pizzas.) There are well over a dozen specialty pies available, and we’re sure we would have enjoyed any one of them. In the end, though, we decided to go with a simple creation of our own, selecting portabella mushrooms and Italian sausage as our toppings, which were piled on a layer of mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce that was spread across the gluten-free crust.

Despite its simplicity, our pizza was extremely good and satisfying. The toppings we chose covered the whole top of the pizza, which was wonderful because they were both delicious. The Italian sausage had just a hint of spice and was a bit crispy, just the way we like it, and the thick pieces of portabella mushroom were juicy and firm, which enhanced the pizza’s texture. There was an abundance of tomato sauce, which normally isn’t our preference, but since the sauce was so good, the amount used can hardly count as a mark against Proto’s. The crust was crisp and rather thin. Because it was thin, it collapsed under the weight of its own toppings, so it was best to eat the pizza with a fork, at least until you make it about halfway through a slice, at which point it becomes a little more manageable. We eagerly ate every piece until it was completely finished.

Shortly thereafter, we were delivered our check in a small can that was once used to preserve chipotle peppers – a simple deviation from the standard check holder used by most restaurants, but an encouraging effort to recycle materials just the same. After the requisite calculations and signature, we left happily, marveling once more at the urbane pocket in North Boulder – that diamond in the rough – that we found ourselves in while eating delicious gluten-free pizza on a Wednesday afternoon.

Proto’s menu (PDF):

http://www.protospizza.com/pdf/ColoradoMenu.pdf

(The online menu doesn’t list gluten-free crust as an option, but we’re told that all the Proto’s locations have GF crust, so don’t let this omission fool you.)

All the Colorado locations:

4670 Broadway Street,
Boulder, CO 80304

8001 Arista Place
Broomfield, CO 80020

2401 15th Street
Denver, CO 80202

A. 489 No. US Hwy. 287
Lafayette, CO 80026

A. 600 South Airport Rd. Building B
Longmont, CO 80503

Note: This is the seventh article in a new series presented by GlutenFreeInBoulder.com. On a (roughly) weekly basis, we will visit a restaurant, try a dish or two, and write about our experience. We will, of course, be sampling exclusively gluten-free food so we can report back to our readers about the dishes worth having. If you would like us to review a particular restaurant with gluten-free options, send an email to info@glutenfreeinboulder.com. We’ll try our best to check it out!

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  1. Pamela says:

    I as well love Clarity foods crusts, we have been a fan for awhile. My 7 year old daughter asks specifically for their crusts everytime we make a pizza.

  2. Ken Price says:

    I just ate at Proto Pizza located at 600 South Airport Rd. Building B
    Longmont, CO 80503 and they do have gluten free pie listed on their menu. But they make all the pizza at the same station and bake the gluten free pie in the same spot in the oven as the flour pizzas.
    They did not know anything about cross contamination. I would suggest that anyone with a gluten intolerance stay away from this place until they improve the way they prepare the pies. Their crust is gluten free but the end result is loaded with gluten.
    ken

  3. Chris Stackpole says:

    I guess, that’s nice you put this up there. Next time why don’t you ask us. That would be helpful. I guess people just think they can post what ever they want and when they want.

  4. admin says:

    Hello, Chris. We *did* speak with you – in fact we worked and talked directly with the manager of the Boulder location during our review meal. At least, he *said* he was the manager. Most restaurant review sites don’t even tell the restaurant when they are there and, frankly, your remark seems snotty, and undeserved, particularly given what a good review we gave you.

    Anne, Publisher, Gluten Free in Boulder.com

  5. Anne, I am going to have to say that I don’t remember that conversation. I stand my ground on my initial comment. Thanks.

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