Being gluten intolerant, there was a very, very long period of my life where I did not touch the stuff, along with burgers and other forms of fast food, which means I should have a healthy diet, but chocolate ruins (and fixes) everything.
This was amended a year ago when some friends after a night of go-karting (where I had the fourth fastest time out of 10 guys!), unexpectedly wandered into Crust, where I discovered there was such magic as gluten free pizzas. This discovery then led me on to realise there was a Crust near both my and Brad's places and has become a lazy dinner option (on occasion).
I had read about Pizza Religion sometime ago and it joined my massive list of 'gluten free pizza places I will one day eat at'. I'm actually quite surprised how many places do gluten free pizzas though (except for Lygon Street, as Brad and I discovered one night, hmph!).
So on a Saturday night, before heading to a friend's surprise birthday (we ended up missing the surprise bit), Brad and I plonked ourselves in the very cute little decked out courtyard area, under a lovingly warm heater and hungrily ate the menu with our eyes....
Pizza Religion is headed by Kris Bailey & Matt Hunter, who aim to use the freshest and best ingredients, and always have something special off the menu up their sleeves. The menu only shows you their pizzas, but there are always a few little appetizer-esque dishes off the menu, if you were concerned you wouldn't be full enough. Arancini were incredibly tempting, but we opted not to go for it. Maybe next time.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love my mushrooms. On like, everything. Although it is kind of almost impossible to go wrong with them, so Brad and I couldn't help but be drawn towards the mushroom option. With mushrooms, thyme, talleggio, balsamic, spanish onions, I was impressed with how densely packed the pizza was with all the toppings! Easily one of the best pizzas I've had, the flavours were rich and wholesome, the hint of balsamic really just made the pizza for me, and their gluten free bases were sensational. Quite thin, but I like it that way.
Normally when Brad and I do pizza, we get one pizza and share it.
Welllll, we both decided we still wanted more and got a second one. Talk about needing to go to the gym the next day....Pork sausage, chilli, fennel, apple and cabbage salad. Doesn't that sound more like a main dish than pizza toppings? I appreciated how generous they were with the pork sausage, definitely a very meaty pizza, but nicely broken up and complimented by the fennel and apple. The sweetness and crispness from the apples was certainly something a bit different, especially when matched with the fennel. Overall, we really enjoyed this pizza too.
The pizzas may seem a bit expensive, and yes it did take two to really fill us up, but if you want to compare to something like Crust, there is a lot more refinement and thought that goes into the presentation, proportions of ingredients and of course, quality of ingredients. It really stood out to me in those ways. The waitress even came out afterwards and asked if I had any input on the gluten free pizza base, as the bases are all made in store with their own recipe and they are keen for feedback and critique to improve. That takes quite a bit of guts to really earnestly ask for critique and definitely shows a lot of pride and love in the work.
But for a gluten free pizza eater anyway, the pizzas were all $20 and under, which is how much I would normally pay anywhere anyway. And I loved the laid back atmosphere here.
Although, even if you aren't gluten free, if you're looking for a cheap, fun way to impress a date (or just prefer to not feel like your arteries are melting as you clog them up with cheap oily and cheese laden chain pizzas), then this is the place to go.
493 Tooronga Rd
*Disclaimer: I have been drinking wine as I've been writing this. As an Asian, I apologise for lack of fluidity and abruptness if you come across any. Although if you haven't, awesome and please ignore this disclaimer. It's dinner time.