November 18, 2010

Gluten-Free Pizza, Pasta, and Sandwiches Available at Martino’s Pizzeria Near Boulder

By Evan Sandsmark -  

Martino’s Pizzeria is the type of place that makes you wonder if a gluten intolerance is really a limitation. It’s not so much that Martino’s Pizzeria has lots of GF options, although it does, it’s just that the gluten-free food it does offer is so good. This is the conclusion we confidently arrive at after visiting Martino’s this afternoon, which is located in Lafayette, about a 15-minute drive from the heart of Boulder.

Martino’s is part of a chain of stores near the intersection of Arapahoe and 95th Street. The inside is rather small – it can perhaps accommodate around 30 people – but there is a patio along the side of the restaurant that probably doubles the capacity of the pizzeria (at least when the weather is nice enough to seat people outside). The interior looks new, which makes sense given that Martino’s opened about a half a year ago, and has a nice color scheme dominated by walls of dark read brick and brown wooden tables and chairs. You order food at the counter near the entrance of the store, meaning Martino’s isn’t a traditional sit-down restaurant with waiters and waitresses bringing you water and answering menu-related questions, but the cashier knew everything a server might be expected to know, so this isn’t an issue at all.

Like several of the restaurants we’ve reviewed in the past, Martino’s has a large selection of items that can be prepared without gluten with relative ease. It is able to accomplish this because they have a supply of GF bread, pasta, and pizza crust in the kitchen, which means a simple substitution can make a dish gluten-free (making this replacement will, however, add a couple dollars to your bill). For example, any pizza can be made on GF crust, and any sandwich can be made with GF bread. In addition to these main items, the restaurant has a few other GF products on the menu – including Bard’s beer and chunky choc-chip cookies – so a full and “rounded” gluten-free meal, starting with a GF beer and ending with a GF cookie, can be had at Martino’s. In offering a few GF ingredients (provided by places like Longmont’s Sweet Escape Pastries, which, by the way, supplies Martino’s with their GF pasta, bread, and pizza crust), Martino’s opens up the vast majority of its menu to those with a gluten intolerance, and we hope other restaurants adopt this increasingly common practice.

Over the course of two trips to the restaurant, we ordered gluten-free cheesy bread, pasta, and pizza. Without a doubt, the gluten-free cheesy bread is some of the best we’ve ever had, and certainly the best GF cheesy bread we’ve had. (Granted, we haven’t exactly tried dozens of GF cheesy breads, but we can almost guarantee you that you’ll like this stuff). First, the GF bread itself is fluffy, soft, and chewy with lightly crisped edges. A layer of garlic butter is added to the bread, and melted cheeses are piled on top. When dipped in the marinara provided on the side, this appetizer is absolutely delicious. The crisp edges of the bread give each bite a nice crunch, and the hot melted cheese on top of the soft center of the bread compliments this perfectly. The cheesy bread is so good, in fact, that even if your party has only one gluten-intolerant person, you could safely order the GF version of this appetizer without any of the non-GF people complaining (or for that matter even noticing).

Served in a very large portion, the rigatoni pasta we tried was also excellent. The GF noodles are particularly large and thick, and on top of them is a wealth of red tomato sauce, perfectly-spiced Italian sausage, and mozzarella cheese. (If you’re a vegetarian, you can order the dish without meat at a discounted price.) In other words, the pasta is kind of like an Italian parfait, built as it is with layers of ingredients that are more or less distinct from one another. This is a virtue, as it ensures that the standard bite has a little bit of all the ingredients. Conversely, you can pick at the layers easily, constructing a bite with the exact proportions you’re seeking. As we mentioned, this dish is quite large, so it could probably be split with another person, especially if you start your meal with cheesy bread (which you should!). In any case, we’ll be eating leftover Martino’s pasta for the next couple meals, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Since the pasta usually comes with garlic bread that isn’t GF, Martino’s was nice enough to give me a side salad instead at no extra cost. This was served with a side of homemade GF ranch dressing that is delightfully subtle in its taste. Some ranch dressings can be overwhelmingly rich, so much so that it can overpower the taste of whatever you’re eating it with. Happily, this is not the case with Martino’s ranch.

Not surprisingly, Martino’s pizzas are also very good. Like most pizzerias, you can either make your own pizza or order a specialty pie. If you take the former route, get ready to agonize over the toppings you choose because their are tons. There are not only almost 30 different toppings, but there are also different types of sauces and cheeses (including a very tasty vegan cheese that we had on our pizza, which is made by Daiya ) to choose from. The precise number of possible combinations would make a superb SAT question. No matter what you order, the GF pizza crust will be crispy and delicious, and people who aren’t used to eating quality gluten-free pizzas will be pleasantly surprised.

In case this isn’t painfully clear by now, we will be repeat customers of Martino’s Pizzeria. We very much encourage you to stop by Martino’s next time you’re looking for an excellent GF meal.

Check out Martino’s menu here (PDF).

Martino’s address:
1349 Forest Park Circle
Lafayette, CO 80026

Note: This is the fifth 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. Donato Sangovani Fanucci Nowicki says:

    I have eaten at Martino’s and tried their assortment of Gluten free menu items. DELICIOUS!!! They are careful not to compromise the GF requirements and are painstakingly careful about the integrity of their GF food. It is a treat to visit this restaurant. And the people are SOOO Nice!!!

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