Stone Hearth

Bostonians are serious about three things: the Red Sox, a driver’s right-of-way and, oddly enough, Italian Food. In fact, many within Beantown have a Kanye-West-Inspired motto: “Hey New York, I’m real happy for you and Imma let you finish, but Pizzeria Regina in the North End has the best pizza of all time!” Sadly, though, there’s usually one group of individuals left out of the joke: those with celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes an intolerance of many wheat proteins, primarily gluten (read more about opting for a gluten-free lifestyle here). For years, those with celiac disease couldn’t enjoy the same things as those without it: baked goods, pasta and, of course, pizza. In 2005, business partners Christopher Robbins and Jonathan Schwarz decided enough was enough and founded Stone Hearth Pizza: The Belmont, MA-based restaurant boasting one of the most diverse menus of gluten-free options.

Now open in three locations, Stone Hearth is, given the name, clearly best known for its pizza. The “GF” label is found throughout the menu, standing for both “gluten free” and “good friends,” the latter of which is rooted in the founders’ longtime friendship. Today, Chef Michael Ehlenfeldt’s selection offers over twenty gluten-free appetizers, pizzas, pastas and desserts.

What’s more, Stone Hearth is well known for its farm-to-table and sustainable practices, purveying dairy and produce from such local sources as Great Hill Dairy and Verril Farm. Even some of the beer selection is rumored to be gluten-free (see more GF beers here), and all are locally sourced from the likes of Harpoon Brewery and others. Whenever possible, organic ingredients are also used: Meatballs are made with organic, locally-raised beef, pasta dishes are served with organic bread. And patrons are given an option of having their pizza prepared with organic sauce.

As for the pizza’s taste, the GF crust is indisputably delicious. In fact, several non-celiacs have said it to be preferential over the regular crust. Though neither Stone Hearth’s website nor its menu directly cites which ingredients are used to make the GF crust, certain reviews have identified its base as rice flour; good news for those who can’t or prefer not to consume soy or legumes (found in the common alternative chickpea flour).

One fact that Stone Hearth is quick to say, however, is that its kitchens are not entirely gluten-free, causing some concern that typical flours might come into contact with the GF options. But the staff is also quick to point out that the gluten-free crusts (as well as other GF menu items) are prepared and stored in the morning, keeping them isolated from wheat flours and other allergens.

With a majority of positive reviews to support it, the verdict is in: “I’m real happy for you and Imma let you finish…” Okay, the point is clear: Stone Hearth Pizza has earned its rank as one of the finest gluten-free, organic and environmentally conscious establishments in greater Boston.

image: larryjh1234