July 15, 2016
Fresh Brothers is a HUGE sponsor and supporter of local schools, community events and non-profit organizations throughout the South Bay, and I’ve eaten their food at various events over the years, but I’d never been to one of the shops.
When they invited me to stop in and try some of their menu items, I thought, “Pizza….what could be new or exciting about pizza?” Don’t get me wrong, I adore pizza and consider it a major food group….and as I just discovered, I’ve been taking it for granted my entire life.
So I went to the Fresh Brothers’ Redondo Beach location and settled down with the menu. Pepperoni? Sausage? Hawaiian? BBQ Chicken? The works? They all looked delicious. Chicken nuggets? Sliders? Garlic bread? Salads? All well represented. They also offer crusts of varying thickness, in addition to a Megagrain crust.
Then I noticed the gluten-free and vegan options. I see these choices on many menus nowadays and immediately dismiss them, simply because I don’t have Celiac Disease or any food allergies, and while I do eat vegetarian often, I’ve never had any health, political or emotional issues eating animal products.
Growing up, I had a cousin who was allergic to chocolate. My adolescent mind couldn’t comprehend such a tragedy and I always felt a profound empathy for my poor cousin. I took chocolate for granted – and apparently, I take wheat for granted. I’ve never imagined not being able to eat wheat products: bread, pasta, cake, pizza…. Like many of you, I scarf down pizza at will, no thought process involved.
So, wheat eater that I am, I decided to give these alternative menu items a try……
I ordered the Gluten-Free pizza, the Vegan Sausage & Cheese pizza, the Gluten-Free Chicken Bites and for comparison, a Margherita pizza and Buffalo Chicken pizza. I also ordered a Meatball Slider just because I’ve had them before and they’re delicious, and the Fresh Knots because, really, who can pass up bread doused in garlic?
The Gluten-Free pizza tastes just like regular pizza. Period. If the box didn’t have the gluten-free sticker on it, I wouldn’t have known. There’s not a trace of wheat in the dough – it looks like regular pizza crust, feels like regular pizza crust and tastes like regular pizza crust….and it was delicious.
Even more surprising was the Vegan Sausage & Cheese pizza. Mamma Mia, it tasted exactly like regular sausage and was incredible. I kept inspecting it – it certainly looked like sausage – and just as I was about to look at the menu to see the ingredients, I realized, I didn’t care. It was very, very good.
The Gluten-Free chicken bites are a nice change from standard nuggets. They’re baked, not fried – very tasty, very light. As it happens, everything at Fresh Brothers is baked….wings, tenders, even the French fries. I love eating healthy…. especially when I’m not aware of doing so.
The Buffalo Chicken pizza (one of the ‘standard’ pizzas I chose to compare with the ‘alternative’ pizzas) was super tasty, full of flavor, with a little kick. But as it turns out, I never did get around to tasting the Margherita Pizza. I was enjoying the Gluten-Free and Vegan pizzas so much, a regular pizza seemed a little meh at that point….but it looked good!
The next evening, I had dinner with a girlfriend and told her of my adventure into the world of alternative pizza. I was surprised to learn her son had terrible allergic reactions to wheat and dairy products since he was an infant. (Some friends tell you of these scary incidents in great detail, others never even mention them.) Fortunately for him, she discovered Fresh Brothers, and Joshua has been enjoying pizza for most of his young life – he never missed out on this favorite food – and even though he eventually outgrew his allergies, Fresh Brothers’ Gluten-Free and Vegan pizzas are still his favorites.
So, next time you’re in the mood for a slice, stop by Fresh Brothers, see what they have to offer and maybe, maybe, try something different. I did, and not only do I have a real appreciation for these options, now there’s a whole new food group to explore….next time I see them on a menu, I’ll take a second look.
For additional information on Fresh Brothers, the menu and locations, visit the website at http://www.freshbrothers.com/.
In the South Bay, Fresh Brothers is located at 2008 North Sepulveda in Manhattan Beach and 407 North Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach. There are 16 locations throughout Orange County and Los Angeles County. If there’s not a Fresh Brothers near you now, there’s a very good chance there soon will be!