As close to the real thing as you can get
When I was at school my best friend had celiac disease, a serious condition that means you cannot eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley). It’s not just an intolerance, if she eats gluten it’ll destroy her digestive system and give her stomach cancer. So, when we were younger, this meant no crunchy french bread, no light and fluffy fairy cakes, no pillowy sourdough pizza and no beer battered fish & chips *sob*. Well, actually, there were alternatives she could eat but I’ve tasted them and they were not even close to resembling the real thing.
Fortunately, over the last 10 years, gluten-free food has come a long way. Now many retailers and restaurants are making a huge effort to cater for gluten-free diets to the same high standard they do for the rest of their customers. Veganism is also on the rise thanks to documentaries like Cowspiracy, which have highlighted the severe environmental impact caused by animal agriculture.
Brighton has several gluten-free and vegan-friendly pizza restaurants; namely Purezza, Pizzaface and Morelli Zorelli – all of which I’ve tried vegan pizza from. And I’ll be honest, from what I tasted there, congealed vegan cheese isn’t something I’d ever choose to order… until I tried the new gluten-free and vegan menu at Fatto a Mano.
I went along with my friend Sally, who is vegetarian with several allergies and whose daughter is dairy-intolerant, knowing that she has far more experience than myself in dining with dietary requirements. She told me pizza chains in Brighton like Franco Manca and Pizza Express couldn’t offer a safe dairy-free option for her daughter but at Fatto a Mano she could eat everything and for free (because kids under 10 eat for free at Fatto A Mano – result!) Not only do they offer dairy-free pizza, they also have a dairy-free ice cream (well, sorbet) that her daughter loves and is remarkably creamy – so dessert doesn’t have to be off the cards for little Fawn.
Instead of finding the first gluten-free flour and vegan cheese they could, Fatto a Mano put a lot of time and effort into finding the best vegan ingredients and perfecting the dough recipe, so that not only would the pizza meet the approval of a vegan/gluten-free customers, but also customers, like myself, who love their traditional product.
And it really shows. The gluten-free base was very similar to their regular dough and personally, I would be more than happy to eat this, instead of dough made with gluten. Of course, it wasn’t as pillowly and stretchy as a regular base but it was more doughy in texture than any gluten-free pizza I’ve tasted and dramatically better than the crispy base I’ve had at Purezza.
With regards to the cheese, the fact is you can never make vegan cheese taste exactly like the real thing – but if you don’t have the luxury of being able to eat dairy, then this is going to be as close to the real thing as you can get. And honestly, when it’s smothered in the delicious San Marzano tomatoes and lots of roasted veggies, you’ll barely notice the difference.
At the end of the night, we both agreed that we could be converted to vegan and gluten-free pizzas, based on the quality of what we’d eaten. So clearly Fatto a Mano is leading the charge; not just offering an alternative but going out of their way to create one as authentic as they can. For that, they deserve a medal. Ben fatto guys!
*Disclaimer: I was invited to Fatto A Mano to review but as always, my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest view on the whole experience.
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