Shine Tries It: Gluten-Free Domino's Pizza

Gluten-Free Crust

Every Friday Shine editors road-test unusual products and unbelievable promises to find out what lives up to the hype and what doesn't. Warning: don't try any of this at home until we do.

When Domino's debuted its gluten-free pizza, it felt like an important cultural moment. A gluten-free diet, initially only of interest to those with celiac disease or who are gluten-intolerant, had turned irrefutably mainstream, like Jillian Michaels releasing a yoga DVD or R.E.M. playing in the grocery store. The moment Domino's began to offer gluten-free pizza, gluten-free was officially a thing.

Who better to analyze the respective merits of a gluten-free pizza than our summer interns? College students know from pizza. So in my cubicle the other day, Kara, Erica, and I popped open that red, white, and blue box with the nervous trepidation of three actresses perched on their seats at the Oscars, waiting to see whose name is inside the envelope: expect the worst, hope for the best.

"It looks different than normal Domino's pizza," Erica said. Regular Domino's crust ("dry and fluffy," as Kara described), this was not. Before us was a plain cheese 10-inch pie, with a rice flour-based crust. The whole pizza was about 1/2 an inch thick, if that. One slice had 170 calories compared to 210 calories in a slice with the traditional hand-tossed dough. We each took a bite. "It's almost not like a crust at all," Kara said. We all chewed quietly on the thin, crisp crust, and I thought of quick weeknight dinner recipes that suggest assembling pizzas on top of tortillas. Fine in theory, but ultimately kind of disappointing if it's a doughy pizza crust you're after. "I would buy it," Kara said, "but I don't know if I would get it over a regular pie."

Erica was more distinctly in the pro camp. "You wouldn't know it's gluten-free. I think I like it better," she added, noting that the "crispy" crust was a plus for her. "I'd order it instead of [regular] Domino's. It doesn't taste weird that it's gluten-free."

There was definitely nothing weird about it, and we all liked the sweet sauce, even if the pizza was pretty greasy (especially "compared to Pizza Hut," Kara said). But we were divided down a party line on the importance of crust. For some pie eaters, the crust is the crown jewel of the pizza. Start with a weak crust, and even the best toppings are bound to flop, like a house built on a wobbly foundation. For others, the crust is a vehicle for a cornucopia of cheesy, salty toppings.

Pizza-eaters who love a flour- and cornmeal-dusted crust will likely find the super-thin crisp crust of Domino's gluten-free pizza a bit disappointing. But if it's the sweet taste of tomato sauce and greasy cheese you seek, or you have a gluten sensitivity and really just don't feel like cooking tonight, consider your Friday night dinner plans covered.

One little catch: Because Domino's prepares the gluten-free pizzas in the same kitchen as their regular pies, they can't guarantee its safety for those with celiac disease. If you have a gluten-sensitivity, though, this could be your late night answer to the munchies.

Report Card: 'A' if you have a gluten sensitivity and are hungry for pizza; 'B' if you dig thin crust; 'B-/C+' if what you really love is a pizza with a thick, chewy crust.

Have you tried Domino's gluten-free pizza? Whaddya think?

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