Delicious gluten-free pizza in Manhattan

Lauren Glassberg reports
October 8, 2013 2:42:52 PM PDT
A pizza maker suddenly discovered that the food he loves, and the food that pays his bills, was making him sick.

The restaurant owner in Manhattan found out that he can't eat gluten, but he loves his business.

"I dreamed to become a pizza maker or a chef of course, to eat pizza every day," said Pasquale Cozzolino, of Ribalta.

It's the kind of dream lots of little boys in Naples probably have, to grow up to be a pizza maker.

Pasquale Cozzolino was no different. He enrolled in cooking school at 14 and was making pizza professionally by 18.

Fast forward to this past summer when he had just opened Ribalta on 12th Street in Manhattan.

"I felt something in my mouth bitter, I felt tired, I had some red on the skin, and then I decided to go to the doctor," Cozzolino said.

Blood tests and an endoscopy confirmed he has celiac disease, an immune reaction to gluten.

Gluten is found in the very thing he loves to make, pizza.

"It was a punch in my in my stomach, it was horrible," Cozzolino said.

Even his partner felt the loss.

But Pasquale decided to rally and started tinkering with gluten-free dough until he came up with one that makes even him happy.

"In this flour, we have potato, corn, and rice," Cozzolino said.

The dough is pre-baked before it's topped and he uses a separate oven for these pizzas.

While the dough is a little yellower, it's crispy on the outside and softer in the middle.

"A lot of people here they say that it's the best they ever had in the city, maybe because I make for me," Cozzolino said.

He's a chef making a gluten-free product not just to please customers but to please himself, next he'll be using this new pasta maker for gluten free pasta.

Because Pasquale the pizza maker knows, life goes on.

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