Before we begin, let’s make peace with this simple fact: I recognize that it’s a sin to go to a steakhouse and order pizza. Wildfire is one of my go-to gluten-free restaurants in downtown Chicago. I have a regular order there: spinach & artichoke fondue, black peppercorn filet cooked medium, cheddar double stuffed potato and a bottle or two of Redbridge. When I’m really feeling like treating myself, I’ll also devour the flourless chocolate cake. No, I don’t finish it all. Wildfire’s portions provide the gift that keeps giving for at least one or two lovely office lunch reheats.
Alas, I’m already straying from the point. On my last visit to Wildfire in downtown Chicago, the thermometer read 96 degrees. I simply can’t be expected to order a meal of that size and still be able to breathe, walk and perform the other simple functions demanded of a human in this heat. I eyeballed the salads briefly and even spied the seafood offerings momentarily before my eyes settled on this miracle of the Wildfire pizza offerings:
Chicken sausage, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, jalapeno jack cheese
Making my decision even easier was the realization that Wildfire swapped out the Redbridge gluten-free beer option for Bard’s Tale beer. I’m not a Redbridge hater and it can be really refreshing in summer heat, but when I’m sentimentally craving craft beer flavor, Bard’s is one of the only commercially-available gluten-free beers that fits the bill.
Everybody knows I can talk beer all day, but please, let’s get back to the point once more. Whoever came up with this pizza is a hero. The spicy chicken sausage balances beautifully with the caramelized onions. The green and red peppers taste nearly pickled, which is perfect because their sweetness helps to cool the fire of the jalapeno jack cheese. The smoky, baked crust is perfectly crisped from the wood-burning oven and the sauce is mild and plays a perfect supporting role. With so many huge flavors, what more does the sauce have to do? There are huge chunks of garlic and tomato floating in the sauce while loads of interesting spice flavors and aromas emanate from the chicken sausage. This is an incredibly well-balanced meal, but put it all on a pizza and your palette needs days to recover.
I ate half of the pizza and brought the other half to the office for lunch the following day. It microwaved well and is filling enough for two meals. The only thing missing was a cold beer to wash it down with.
Rounding out my Wildfire meal this time around were the complementary gluten-free bread roll as an appetizer, an obligatory cheddar double stuffed potato (half with the meal, half reheated the following day), and two bottles of Bard’s. My one and only complaint was that the beer was provided with a super-chilled glass. I prefer beer closer to room temperature both for flavor and because it reduces the amount of air taken in while drinking, but with the nearly-unbearable heat of late spring Chicago lurking menacingly just outside those double-doors, I’m not going to get too upset.
Even as a go-to restaurant that I’ve been to more times than I can count, Wildfire’s gluten-free menu continues to surprise and thrill me. I’ll definitely be getting after this pizza on subsequent trips to Wildfire. What’s your favorite gluten-free Wildfire meal?