Knowing that I my supply of food and non-food necessities was growing short, my mom flew up the weekend after I returned to take me on a two day adventure through Costco, Wegmans, and other outlets to restock my dorm and mini-fridge. Finding ourselves in Baltimore city during the dinner hour, I set my sights on Canton neighborhood's Verde Pizza, which has been tempting my tastebuds for awhile now. In my adventures through town, I've found that Baltimore has several great gluten and dairy-free pizza restaurants, so I entered the experience with the highest of expectations.
We arrived slightly before the restaurant opened for the evening, as I like to time my dining excursions earlier rather than later so as to get the wait staff and chefs when they're fresh, and not bogged down with tons of orders. Trying to explain gluten-free protocols when a restaurant is slammed can be challenging and unnecessarily confusing for both restaurant and patron.
What's really cool is that any of Verde's pizzas can be made gluten-free, using a crust made from 100% gluten-free flour imported from Italy. In addition, they have several menu pizzas that are specifically designed to be vegan, naturally leaving off meats, and cheeses. However, as with most restaurants, Verde does process their gluten-free pizzas in the same kitchen with gluten-full pizzas. While they do use separate pans, knives, and utensils to prepare them, there is never a 100% guarantee that they are gluten-free. Understanding this risk, and my own comfort zone, I was put at ease with the level of safety, but again, I want to mention this so that you can evaluate the risk level for your own needs. After looking over the menu, I opted for the vegan carciofo pizza made gluten-free.
When it arrived, I was taken aback by the incredible presentation of the pizza. 12" in diameter, and featuring a brick oven-cooked crust that was actually "crusty", the pizza was hands down one of the most impressive pizzas I've ever seen- gluten-free or not. It did not look "different" as most gluten-free pizzas do, and was almost too beautiful to eat right away.
But eat it I did, and the experience only went uphill from there. The rich red sauce was chunky and showcases the robust taste of tomatoes, while the artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and basil thrown into the mix were noticeably fresh and flavorful. The real prize goes to the crust however, as it was chewy, supportive, and had a nice thick crust- three attributes almost unheard of to describe gluten-free pizzas. It was so spot-on for "normal" pizza that there were even air bubbles in the crust. Can you believe it? The brick oven style of baking the pizza really added to the already wonderful taste as the singed spots were from the oven added a smokey flavor.
As a bonus, I dipped my crust ends in their homemade red pepper infused olive oil. Immediately falling in love with the rich, aromatic oil, the crustiness of the crust was only enhanced further with the accentuating flavor.
Verde is a restaurant I will visit again, and hopefully in the near future. I have not seen, nor tasted a pizza anything like the one I ate in the four years I've removed gluten and dairy from my life. Verde is the real deal, and has a great ambiance and decor scheme that makes the experience one to relish. I truly enjoyed the rare outing with my mom by my side, and we both couldn't believe how wonderful our pizzas were (mine gluten-free, hers gluten-full).
My one and only complaint, is that the $6 upcharge for a gluten-free crust is a little steep. As a budget-conscious college student, Verde will sadly not be in my usual rotation of restaurants, but will save it for special occasions. While I am not a fan of forking over extra money for a gluten-free meal, in retrospect, the charge is completely worth the quality ingredients used, and extra hassle the kitchen goes through to make a gluten-free pizza.
The BasicsAddress: 641 S. Montford Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224
Cuisine: Italian, gluten-free pizzas, vegan options available
Ideal For: Brunch (Sunday), Lunch (Saturday and Sunday), Dinner (Monday-Sunday)
Price: Gluten-free upcharge on any pizza is $6. Pizzas (minus upcharge) range from $9-$22.
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessibility is limited. Call ahead to let them know a ramp is needed, and when you'll arrive.
Special Features: Make reservations online at Open Table (link here) and earn points towards a dining certificate redeemable at many awesome restaurants! Also, Verde delivers via Order Up Baltimore (link here).