24 April 2009

Friday Night Slice, Part 10

Matteo's Pizzeria

Old Franklin faithful know the name Matteo's Pizza from its original location inside The Factory where this locally owned restaurant (and catering outfit) established itself as an outstanding place to get fresh, specialty pizzas. A local favorite, of course, is the Rocky Top pizza (Red Sauce, Mozzarella Cheese, Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, Bacon, Mushroom, Onion and Black Olives), named for our state song and university anthem. Now in its tenth year, Matteo's serves pizza out of Cool Springs using pure Italian olive oil for their hand-made pizza dough, made on-site daily. They pride themselves on not cutting any corners, offering the finest quality and freshest cheeses, meats and vegetables.

But more than offering a tasty pizza, Matteo's strives to offer healthy pizza that is sensitive to the dietary needs of some of their patrons. A few years into the business, manager Peter Spellman decided to hone in on a market segment left mostly unserved in middle Tennessee: the gluten-free community. Individuals with wheat allergies and celiac disease often adhere to a gluten-free diet that excludes wheat, barley, rye and even some oats. Individuals following this diet steer clear of the direct gluten-based food items (such as grains, cereals, pastas and typical pizza dough), but they must avoid products that include gluten and even products processed on shared equipment as well.

Matteo's has undertaken the meticulous, precise process required to ensure that their pizzas are gluten-free. They have a separate gluten-free prep room with separate tools and sinks where they build pizzas that are completely free of fillers and additives. Seeing themselves as part of the middle Tennessee community, they wish to offer a tasty option for gluten-free dieters and a healthier option for all pizza lovers.

*NOTE: You can order either "regular" or gluten-free pizzas. Not ALL pizzas served at Matteo's are gluten-free.

It's an interesting niche market and one that continues to rise in popularity. While only 1% of Americans have celiac disease, using a gluten-free diet to treat self-diagnosed stomach ailments has become almost something of a fad. As in, gluten is the new carb, maybe? (read more about it here)

But enough about that...how did it taste?

We chose to "create our own" half-and-half thin crust pizza with, of course, pepperoni and cheese on one side, adding sausage and black olives on the other. Matteo's offers a true, traditional thin crust that is hard, flaky and very crispy to the edge. The pie was cut into party squares which surely measured no more than 1/2-inch in total thickness. The sauce was applied very, very thinly and from the small amount left to taste, it was light and tomato-ey with a tiny tinge of sweetness. It was a good sauce with noticeable but not overwhelming flavor. A thin coat of cheese covered nearly every inch of the pie. There was very little pull-away, but the cheese was distinct and delicious, thick and somewhat creamy. The pepperoni was good, just good, safe and predictably un-spicy. With pepperoni, most places stick to simple flavors that appeal to the masses.

Overall, Matteo's is a friendly, local establishment that serves a pretty good pizza at prices typically a buck or so lower than the monster chains. They're haunted by the many naysayers who claim that the quality declined with the move out of The Factory, but their newer gluten-free fans might be heard a little louder.

Matteo's Pizza
1800 Carothers Parkway, Brentwood, TN 37207 (map)
Mon - Thurs 11:00am - 8:30pm; Fri - Sat 11:00am - 9:00pm; closed Sun
Dine In, Carry Out, Order Online

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Cold Pizza:
Friday Night Slice, Part 1: MAFIAoZA's and Joey's House of Pizza
Friday Night Slice, Part 2: Pizza Perfect and Pizza Perfect Kebobs
Friday Night Slice, Part 3: Rudino's Pizza and Grinders
Friday Night Slice, Part 4: Chicago Style Italian Beef
Friday Night Slice, Part 5: Pie In The Sky
Friday Night Slice, Part 6: Castrillo's Pizza
Friday Night Slice, Part 7: California Pizza Kitchen
Friday Night Slice, Part 8: Ahart's Pizza Garden (Murfreesboro)
Friday Night Slice, Part 9: New York Pizza Depot (Clarksville)

Got any suggestions for places that I should cover? Let me know!

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