In Crust We Trust
Published August 2022
By Greg Elwell | 4 min read
To say a life without pizza is not a life worth living is peak hyperbole but not entirely false for fans of one of America’s favorite foods. And yet, for many Oklahomans, crust is a major impediment on the path to pizza paradise. For those with gluten issues, the price of a slice might mean a rash, a headache, or a full-on shutdown of the villi in the stomach, which extract nutrients out of food. Luckily, a handful of pizzerias across the state are tackling the problem head on.
It takes but a cursory glance at The Compass menu to tell this place is different. Since opening in 2016 in downtown McAlester, the restaurant has thrilled diners with combinations that break the classic pizzeria model. Pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms all are there, but how many pizza spots have toppings like habanero cream cheese, marinated sirloin, and ratatouille ready to go?
“I get bored easily,” says Compass owner Mathew Hutson. “I’m always trying new things so I don’t get burned out.”
Adding a cauliflower crust to the menu was a difficult choice, because it’s the one thing in the restaurant that comes pre-made. But the reaction from customers was overwhelming.
“Probably one in three pizzas we sell has a cauliflower crust,” he says. “Some want it for lower carbs or because it’s gluten free; some people just prefer it, because it’s thinner and lighter than our regular crust.”
Follow any compass—or more likely a GPS app—to great pizza at The Compass in McAlester. Photo by Lori Duckworth
There’s been a similar reaction at Stone Sisters Pizza Bar in Oklahoma City, where the big draw is a sprouted-spelt crust that’s darker, crispier, and nuttier than most.
Spelt is a grain that, while not gluten-free, can be gluten “friendly” when soaked in water and sprouted. It’s easier to digest for many people, says youngest sister Sheli Stone-Stenseth.
She and middle sister Tami Stone-Lake developed the signature pizza crust and roped in their eldest sister, Traci Stone, to start a pizzeria.
Though they sell unbleached white crust, gluten-free, and cauliflower crusts, the sprouted-spelt crust is so popular there’s a list of hundreds of people across the country who want to buy it once the sisters figure out the best way to ship it. They’re already in some grocery stores in Oklahoma City, but plans for a larger distribution footprint are underway. The sisters think it can help a lot of people reconnect with their favorite food.
“A man came in and told me he hadn’t had pizza in ten years, but he could eat our sprouted-spelt crust,” says Stone-Lake. “It’s a life-changer.”