Pugsley’s Pizza Includes Gluten-Free Options


Pugsley’s Pizza, the popular off-campus hangout opened in 1985, is integrating gluten-free menu items (Courtesy of Instagram).

It is late on a Saturday night, and your friends want comfort food. Of course, they make the short pilgrimage to Pugsley Pizza, home of the quintessential Fordham late night snack.

While everyone begins to chow down on their penne alla vodka or cheese pizza slices, you sit there and watch.
You have Celiac disease and have never been able to partake in the old Pugsley’s rituals—until now. On Nov. 6, the Pugsley’s Instagram account (@pugsleypizza) posted the news of a gluten-free personal pizza option now available.

A gluten-free pizza was “not a big request, but some people ask,” said Salvatore “Sal” Natale of Pugsley’s. “It wasn’t, like, a crazy high demand,” said Pietro “Pete” Natale, who manages the restaurant’s Instagram account. “But, it’s like, sometimes late at night kids would come, all their friends could eat and then there’d be that one person you have gluten free. … All we had was salad, french fries or chicken wings.”

Pugsley’s food supplier, Ferraro, sends them pre-made gluten-free pizza crust that comes ready in a pan and with its own plastic cutter (that Pugsley’s customers can keep!), to decrease the likelihood of cross-contamination. The crust itself is made primarily from rice flour by Conte’s Pasta in New Jersey. Additionally, folks also can look forward to gluten-free pasta coming to Pugsley’s soon.

The types of pasta have not been set in stone yet, but cheese ravioli, gnocchi and shells are some of the planned items.
When asked about adding penne, Sal and Pete Natale admitted not to having thought of that, but are “sure it’s something (they) will look into.”

When it comes to other food alternatives, such as vegan cheese, Pugsley’s is not making any plans — simply because they say they do not have a lot of information on dairy-free pizza. Pete said he would have to see and try one to figure it out. So far, the pizza has been well-received. Everyone who has gotten one so far has enjoyed and reordered it, according to Sal. Both he and Pete say that while it is “100 percent different” from the regular pizza, even they still like the taste of the gluten free pie.

However, because there was no high demand for it, large crowds of people are not ordering it. This is not a problem for Pugsley’s; they are not doing this for the profit. In fact, making gluten-free pizza has cost them more money, but they find that “it’s good because you take care of the customer.”

In his parting words at the end of the interview, Sal stated, “Smile. Be happy.” As a fundamental part of Fordham University’s culture, Pugsley’s Pizza serves the community and continues to strive for inclusion to satisfy all customers. To everyone with gluten-free diets, follow Sal’s words, and go finally pick up a pizza with your friends.