When I was shopping last week, I went on the hunt for a gluten-free frozen pizza for Jon. It is nice to keep these on hand for those moments when he needs to eat relatively quickly and dinner is still a few hours off or has already taken place. Earth Fare carries several brands of frozen gluten-free pizza now. Instead of hoping to find just one variety, I usually have a choice and can opt for our favorite or what is on sale. This week Bella Monica pizzas were $2.00 off, so I picked up the Margherita pizza for Jon.
It didn’t take Jon long to spot this in the freezer, though he was concerned about the name “Margherita”. I assured him it was different than the margaritas with tequlia in them. The first thing I noticed about this pizza is the size. It was larger than some of the other frozen gluten-free pizzas on the market. The box notes that there are 3 servings, so it is not intended to be a personal pizza.
More about Bella Monica:
Since 2000, when chef/owner Corbett Monica and his wife Julie opened the doors to this neighborhood trattoria, Bella Monica has become an extension of Nana’s table. It is a place where guests become family at our tables and enjoy Nana’s recipes. Keeping true to tradition, we use only imported San Marzano tomatoes and the freshest ingredients just like Nana would.
Being in the food industry, we had heard of gluten-free diets and Celiac’s disease but where not aware of the scope and impact it had on people. Then in 2004 a friend of our family who happen to be a professor at UNC Chapel Hill’s Keenan Flagler Business School suggested that we take a good look at the gluten-free food category. He was on the gluten-free diet and at the time was really disappointed in what the marketplace was offering. He suggested there could be a huge opportunity for a company who was focused on quality and great taste.
Flash forward to the spring of 2008 when another friend and veteran of the baking industry suggested we try some pizzas crusts made from a particular type of gluten-free flour. We made up some pizzas using these crusts, took one bite and knew instantly we had something special. Crisp, great taste profile and it looked like a real pizza – not a rice cracker with pizza toppings on it. Experimenting with different topping combinations and packaging design started immediately and by January of 2009 we were selling to retailers up and down the east coast. In addition, we invented a gluten-free menu for Bella Monica Italian Restaurant and put in place a service system that makes sure guests feel comfortable that they will not be “gluten-bombed” when they dine with us.
Throughout we discovered just how much of an impact our food was having not only on peoples’ stomachs but their hearts. Positive reviews continue to pour in from all over the Internet via blogs, emails and phone calls. Today our mission is clear. Make delicious gluten free pizza products that can be shared by those on or off a gluten free diet. Like our Nana said: “Everyone to the table. Mangia! Mangia!”
I had a hard time not digging into Jon’s snack/dinner when I was taking these pictures! The aroma of hot cheesy pizza was almost too much! The pizza has a delicate, yet sturdy thin crust that is topped with a well-seasoned tomato sauce, fresh basil and cheese. Jon didn’t waste any time digging right in and really enjoyed it. These days if he isn’t complaining about the food he is eating, it is a hit in his book.
In addition to the Margeriata pizza, Bella Monica also makes Spinach and Tomato and Mushrooms and Herbs varieties. If personal size pizza is more your thing, Bella Monica is now making 6-inch pizzas in Pepperoni, Spinach and Feta and Three Cheese varieties. Bella Monica pizzas can be found in stores across the US, like Kroger and Earth Fare. The restaurant is located in Raleigh, North Carolina if you are lucky enough to live close by or be passing through the area. I may need to make a detour the next time we go through North Carolina on our way to the beach!
Have you tried Bella Monica flatbread pizzas? What did you think?