I drove to the city this week to eat at Mozzarelli’s on east 23rd Street. I’m not sure what I expected but basically it’s a pizza place that makes regular and gluten-free pizza. They also carry a line of gluten-free desserts made by family members under the name of My Dad’s Cookies. The inspiration is that the chef’s daughter has celiac disease.
First to the pizza. I was with two wonderful friends and colleagues. One got a regular slice and the other two of us got gluten-free slices. Because I have so many other food allergies – to dairy, soy, corn, peanuts, nuts, shellfish, to name the top ones – I have to always ask what the ingredients are. The guys making the pizza behind the counter could not tell me what was in the crust. To me that’s a big negative. I told them I could not eat the cheese and asked if they could substitute goat cheese and the one cook said yes. To me that’s a big positive. I ordered two sicillian-type pieces with spinach and goat cheese and hoped for the best.
When you pay for your food they give you samples of their gluten-free cookies. I think that’s terrific. The problem is that there were no ingredient labels on the sample bags, and the cashiers were not very helpful nor did they seem interested in finding out what the ingredients were. Another negative for me. I went to their big display of cookies and had to read through all of the different boxes of packed cookies to try and match them to the samples in the bags, which I could not do. I did see that most of the cookies had corn, soy or dairy in them so I decided not to try them.
We did see one of the owner’s/chefs there and asked him about the pizza crust and cookies. He brought over a frozen crust, which they sell, and sure enough it had milk in it. I can’t remember if it had corn too. Uh-oh – by then I had already started eating my pieces of pizza. That’s a problem, and another negative. The owner brought us a complimentary slice of gluten-free cake to try. He told me that the cake itself was safe for me to eat (although I did not see an ingredient label on it) but that the frosting had dairy in it. Another real positive that he was so friendly and customer oriented.
Ok, so now to the food itself. The pizza crust tasted more like a soft piece of focaccia bread. I did not feel like I was eating pizza. It was pleasant, and I loved the spinach and goat cheese, but no, I can’t say that it tasted like pizza. My friend enjoyed her slice of gluten-free pizza but agreed it was more like a focaccia bread. Our friend who ate the regular pizza enjoyed her slice very much.
Then to the cookies – I did not, could not try them, but my friends did and they gave them mixed reviews. They all looked great. Some tasted good, others did not. The cake itself tasted like a moist spongecake. It was good – everyone liked it. I ran to the car and got one of my own gluten-free, allergy-friendly brownies because I needed to share in the dessert. It was very yummy and delish!
So overall I would have to say that it was a disappoinment. The younger owner was pleasant and engaging after we initiated the conversation. An older man, I think the main owner, was walking around but did not appear to be friendly and certainly did not take the time to speak with any customers. The workers behind the counter were very accommodating but could not explain what the ingredients were, and the cashiers were not friendly.
I wish them well and I am very glad that they are there, but I will not go back.