Friday, April 25, 2014

Uno Chicago Grill Review

Uno Chicago Grill is widely-renowned for their legendary role as the creators of deep dish (Chicago-style) pizza. Founded in 1943 in Chicago, Uno's has since expanded into 140 locations in 24 states, DC, and around the world. While they haven't quite figured out how to bring deep dish pies to a gluten-free audience, they earn points in my book for offering an expansive gluten free menu that encompasses a wide array of options such as seafood, steaks, pizzas, burgers (on Udi's buns) as well as little luxuries like dessert. However, they had me sold at "gluten-free pizza." After all, I'm always on the lookout for a great gluten-free pizza.



Sorry for the glare!
Having grown up with Uno's gluten filled pizzas, I wondered what crust consistency they would have- thicker, like their signature offering, or thinner, like most gluten-free crusts tend to be. When going over the gluten-free menu, I found that they are in the thin crust style and that there are three varieties of pizza that can be ordered: cheese, pepperoni, or veggie (onion, mushroom, pepper). I asked my waitress to see if the toppings and sauces were kept separate, and she confirmed that this was their protocol. Although I like having an option to pick and choose toppings, I don't complain when they are limited based on strict gluten-free procedures. The crusts are also kept frozen to prevent cross contamination and to make sure the pies are the freshest they can be. Nothing is worth compromising and risking a reaction, so it's important that national chains like this take that extra step to set the example. I decided to go with the veggie pizza, sans cheese, because it offered the most variety given that I can't do dairy and they didn't have a non-dairy option. My waitress also asked to make sure that I had an "allergy," which makes a note on my order that signals to the kitchen that my order should be handled with their allergy procedures. While I can understand that this makes allergen-free orders easier to identify, it could be confusing at first for those not officially "allergic" to an ingredient. 


When it came out a few minutes later, the pizza was very impressive. The vibrant colors of the veggies made the pie "pop" visually. My best guess would be that it measures 12" in diameter, which was enough for lunch since it was without cheese. With cheese, it might be able to serve two people if they are mildly hungry. 

On my first bite, I immediately noticed the flavorful tomato sauce and nice roasted flavor of the veggies. While not the freshest veggies I've seen, they had good flavor and were at the perfect consistency between raw and mushy. The tomato sauce was tomato-y, but had a touch of sweetness. I liked that it was not too watery, which often spells doom for gluten-free pizza crusts which just turn to mush when too much water is in a sauce. 


Side view of the crust.
Speaking of the crust, it was hands down the thinnest crust I've seen when eating gluten-free pizza in a restaurant. The ends crisped up and had a pretty good flavor, but I can't say that I was "wow-ed." It wasn't bad, but it wasn't a stand-out crust either. It held its own and didn't collapse under the vegetables' weight, which meant I could eat it with my hands, and not a fork and knife. It's a heavily rice-based crust which is blended with tapioca and potato starch, egg whites, and other ingredients. (See the full list here)

All in all, Uno's serves up a solid gluten-free pizza. I would definitely keep them in mind when travelling because they can be reliable staple for weary gluten-free diners. The Winter Garden location I visited was located in a prime retail area, and was one of a few gluten-free places I recognized among the many cafes and restaurants. The interior was clean and comfortable and is great for catching the big game, eating out with friends and family, or just going out for lunch. The options are plenty and the staff's knowledge helps create an allergen-aware atmosphere. Being comfortable that your food will be safe at the end of the day is important, and I applaud Uno's for their dedication to our special diet community. 

I would definitely recommend signing up for their Insider's Club for email coupons and other special offers. It's also cool to note that select locations offer a Double Deal specials which apply only to takeout orders and are unique to each location. The Winter Garden Double Deals include any two gluten-free pizzas for $13.99- that's cheaper than other chains sell one pizza (to see more of Winter Garden's deals, click here).  Want to see more of Uno's deals? Check out my blog post on birthday deals and steals here.


The Basics

Address: 3167 Daniels Road, Winter Garden, FL 34787 (There are locations on International Drive in Orlando and by Disney in Lake Buena Vista)
Website: unos.com
Cuisine: A little bit of everything: pizza, pasta, seafood, steak, salads, etc.
Ideal For: Lunch or Dinner
Accessibility: The restaurant was wheelchair accessible.
Special Features: You can order online for pick up here.


Disclaimer: Restaurant reviews are based upon the information I have at the time of the review and do not reflect changes in supplier or availability of items. Please contact the restaurant or vendor directly for up-to-date information and feel free to to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.

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