jackson’s bar and oven.
Not long ago, gluten-free pizza was hard to come by. We’ll call that the Dark Ages. And it was during the Dark Ages that I developed my own gluten-free pizza crust recipe, which nearly made all of my pizza-dreams come true (all that was missing was a chef and a dish fairy to clean up afterwords). Soon after, a small amount of light began to dawn when I saw that my grocer started carrying Amy’s Kitchen Rice Crust Pizza. And that was followed by a larger beam of sunshine when Mary’s Pizza Shack began serving Still Riding Pizza. A restaurant! Serving GF pizza! But these days it’s like high noon on summer solstice, because there are some surprisingly viable – and convincing – dining-out GF pizza options out there, among them the brand-spanking new restaurant in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square, Jackson’s Bar and Oven.
Today The Lab put Jackson’s to the test. The restaurant is an upscale down-home eatery, a place you could go to linger over a shared pizza on a date with your sweetie, or to protein-pack a burger & fries before your kids’ soccer game. The menu is somewhat limited for GFers, but who are we kidding here. We went for the pizza.
The menu did not disappoint. We had our choice of any of the pizzas offered with a very reasonable $2 upcharge for the GF crust, and after much inner-debate – because I pull hard for a mushroom pizza, and the Mixed Mushroom pizza sounded delish – I settled on the special of the day, a Breakfast Pizza with slices of fingerling potatoes, chunks of smoked applewood bacon, mozzarella, tomato, and a cracked egg.
It’s a traditional sink-your-teeth-into-it pizzeria-style pizza that took me back to grade-school pizza parties (in a really, really good way). It measured about 10 inches and came to the table uncut, a little detail I enjoyed, as I could ration my bites and the topping proportions. The texture of the crust is one of the pizza’s most winsome qualities: Spongy and doughy are words I thought I’d never use again in conjunction with a GF food, but lo & behold, this crust is decidedly spongy. AND doughy. The flavor of the crust has a subtle earthiness to it that we traced back to garbanzo bean flour. This is a crust that could be totally overlooked as a GF product, and that is a screaming success as far as we’re concerned.
The biggest surprise of all? The crust is made from Bob’s Red Mill GF flour mix. In our convo with owner Josh Silvers, he said that in the time he spent with his head chef experimenting with different GF pizza dough recipes, Bob’s was the one they actually liked best, especially when given the added boost of being cooked in a wood-fired oven.
Here are the technical details: the kitchen isn’t certified GF. The GF dough is handled with care, and the cooks use a separate rolling pin and surface area when they’re making the dough. The wood-fired oven is brushed carefully before a GF pizza is cooked, but use caution if you’re extra-sensitive. This is a pizza place, folks. There’s some ambient wheat flour about.
But what I want to know is this: Would it be too much to order a GF pizza for dinner and then follow it up with a Nutella pizza for dessert? Whatever the answer, I love that it’s an option.