*This dining experience took place in November 2016.
Blaze Pizza, located at Disney Springs, has quickly become a favorite stop for me to get gluten free pizza at Disney. Blaze Pizza is a national chain pizza restaurant that offers fast-casual pizza that cooks fast.
When they opened in 2016 at Disney Springs, I knew I wanted to check it out, as they have gluten free pizza crust. As you can tell my by previous reviews, I’ve been blown away by the quality of ingredients and their gluten free crust. They also carry vegan options, including Daiya Cheese, which makes it a great option for many special dietary needs.
I’ve heard a lot of negative feedback from readers who feel Blaze Pizza isn’t a very safe place to dine. This can definitely be true. It’s not a dedicated gluten free restaurant (neither is any restaurant at Disney, except Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC), and cross contamination is always a risk. It’s even more of a risk if the team doesn’t change gloves or use fresh toppings for you pizza. They do also use a shared pizza oven, so that can add risk too (they use dedicated gluten free mats to cook the gluten free pizza to help protect it from cross-contamination).
As I’ve learned from reader comments, guests have received mixed experiences. I’ve noticed that unless I speak up, the default gluten free handling is a glove change and dedicated pizza cutting utensils (this is the same with vegan options). However, I’ve had great experiences speaking to the team and managers about getting fresh ingredients from off the line — another layer in protecting myself from cross-contamination.
I love their gluten free pizza, so I really try to speak as much as possible to the team to ensure they know that I need to pizza to be prepared as safe as possible. So far, in my experiences at this particular Blaze Pizza location, this has served me well.
As an aside, I’ve tried another Orlando area Blaze Pizza and the experience was woefully underwhelming and not great, so do note that not all Blaze Pizza locations handling of gluten free and special dietary needs pizza are created equal.
On this particular visit, I chose to get the same gluten free pizza I’ve had on every visit (what can I say, I found a pizza I love) — the gluten free BBQ Chicken Pizza, minus banana peppers and with bacon added.
I took the pizza home and that also gave me an opportunity to try out the Nima Sensor that I was sent for gluten detection. Nima is a portable device that detects gluten in food. It’s not currently out on the market; it ships in Spring 2017, but the folks at Nima, whom I met at a food allergy conference event, sent me a device to test out.
Here are some quick facts about Nima Sensor.
- Used to detect gluten (at low levels, including 5 ppm which is under the FDA legally acceptable amount of 20 ppm)
- Not 100% guarantee that a product is gluten free
- May require multiple test vials to test each parts and/or ingredients of a dish
- Not scientifically validated in a peer-reviewed way (I’m a university librarian, so this one is pretty important to me)
- Has some limitations on food tested
- Could be pricey depending on how much you eat out and how many test vials you use
Because folks have been really concerned about Blaze Pizza’s safety for those with celiac disease (and I echo this concern, as a celiac), I decided to test out my pizza with the Nima Sensor, just to see what it would test as.
I used 3 vials. 2 vials were used to test two different sections of the gluten free crust and 1 vial was used to test the toppings. That being said, I could have used more vials, which definitely presents a major cost issue in my opinion.
I’ve not had any noticeable reactions to the Blaze Pizza I’ve had in the past, but I know full well that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t gluten exposure or that the pizza would be safe on every visit (as cross-contamination can occur).
After three vials, I received all gluten free smiley faces, which was pretty exciting to see. Again, while we can’t say to 100% that the pizza was gluten free, this was good enough for me. I enjoyed the pizza and felt no ill effects afterwards — a positive sign that my Blaze Pizza was indeed safe.
Overall, though I’m still ever a skeptic of devices and those that are not peer-reviewed, I’m at least a bit relieved to see that the product itself did test OK according to the Nima Sensor. That to me gives me confidence to continue to dine at Blaze Pizza at Disney Springs.
If you’re curious about Nima Sensor and how it works, I recommend checking out the Beyond Celiac post about it, as well as Erica from Celiac and the Beast’s experiences with it. I’m not sure it’s a device I would personally buy, but it’s been fun testing it out on various Disney products (all of so far have passed the tests positively).
What do you think of Blaze Pizza’s special dietary needs options. Do you feel safe dining here?
*Note: I was provided a blogger review Nima Sensor for temporary use, but was not compensated for using it; nor was I was I asked and/or required to write any reviews about it.