TROY, Mich. (WJBK) - Not only does pizza seem to be America's favorite fast-food, it's typically the go-to for families at dinner time. But for those with gluten allergies and celiac disease it's just not that easy.
Pizza joints are on almost every corner in metro Detroit, but grabbing a quick pie wasn't always an option for the Hertz family.
Their daughter Renee was diagnosed with severe food allergies at age 11.
"Going to different restaurants for us as a family became very difficult for us because they would say they were gluten free and she would end up getting sick from the cross contamination," says her mom, Wendy Lauzano-Hertz.
Cross contamination is something the Hertzes no longer worry about after opening their own pizzeria, Renee's. It's a 100 percent gluten-free, nut-free pizzeria, and it's answering the prayers of the many families struggling with food allergies, sensitivities and auto-immune disorders.
We had an 11-year-old boy come in for the first time and eat pizza for the first time and he was so excited," says Lauzano-Hertz.
Renee's mission wasn't only to provide a safe dining environment for those with special dietary needs, but to also serve a gluten free pizza that actually tastes good.
"We hired a chef that worked about a year on the recipe, quit four times, and just said it's not possible. And we said no, get back to work, there is a recipe out there," says CFO and partner Gil Stebbins.
And with that recipe, Renee's designed a very creative and very delicious menu that includes something you never seem to see -- a gluten free deep dish pizza.
"It's excellent; it's so nice," says Heather Soroka, one of Renee's customers who has food allergies. "And I bring people here who aren't gluten sensitive or have food allergies and they like the food too, so it's not just an allergy-type place."
"That's why on our window it says, 'I can't believe it's gluten free' because it tastes just like a regular pizza," says Stebbins. "Now, I would say only 40 percent or less of our clientele is truly celiac; the rest come because of the taste of the food."
Now heading into it's third year of business, Renee's has gained a pretty big following.
"It's one of the only places I know I can go to and eat without any risk of cross contamination with gluten," says customer Jeffrey Ellis.
"We have families coming from Ann Arbor, from Frankenmuth, from Flint, White Lake, the east side from St. Clair Shores; all over the place," says Lauzano-Hertz.
And with demand comes supply. Renee's just opened a second location in Southfield. Their sit-down location is at 1937 W. Maple Road in Troy. Their new location in Southfield is carryout only. It's located at 29705 Northwestern Highway.
"Come out and give it a shot, and what I'm saying is true. You will not realize this is gluten free and it tastes exactly like what a gourmet pizza should taste like. Once you taste the Chicago deep dish, you probably won't go back to any other pizza," says Stebbins.
You can get more information online at www.reneesgourmetpizzeria.net.