Saturday, December 28, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen

Update - You can read my most recent review of California Pizza Kitchen here.  

Tonight, we went to the California Pizza Kitchen at Waterford Lakes for dinner, because I had heard through several sources that they had great gluten free pizza.  Before tonight, I have only had decent gluten free pizza at one restaurant, Boardwalk Pizza in Winter Park.  In addition to pizza, Boardwalk Pizza has gluten free ravioli, penne, and the last time I was there, they had gluten free chocolate mousse.  I had so many great gluten free pizzas there, but then they messed up my order and put sauce on my pizza 3 times in a row, and then I got a strangely soggy pizza on another visit.  Because of inconsistent meals and the fact that I discovered I could make awesome gluten free pizza with Chebe at home, we stopped going to Boardwalk Pizza.  You can view my blog post about our pizza experiments with Chebe here.  

The hostess gave me a copy of their gluten free pizza menu.  You can view it online here.  The regular and small plates menus I was given had a wide variety of gluten free choices on them also.  

From the small plates menu, we ordered White Corn Guacamole + Chips, a delicious combination of diced avocado, sweet white corn, black beans, jicama, bell pepper, cilantro and serrano peppers.  Other gluten free small plate options include the Asparagus + Arugula Salad and the Petite Wedge.  

We ordered a small portion of the Morrocan-Spiced Chicken Salad with roasted butternut squash, dates, avocado, toasted almonds, beets, red peppers, chopped egg and cranberries, with a housemade Champagne vinaigrette.  So far, my husband and I were two for two on the dishes we ordered to split.  I loved everything about this salad!  Roasted Veggie, Carmelized Peach, Waldorf Chicken, California Cobb, and the Italian Chopped are other gluten free options from the salad menu, available in both small and large portions.    

The main reason we visited CPK was to try their new gluten free pizza.  CPK introduced gluten free pizza to their menu two years ago, but then removed it due to concerns about cross contamination.  This year, they reintroduced a certified gluten free pizza crust, and prepare it using strict procedures approved by The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG).  You can read more about the precautions CPK takes here.   

I love BBQ Chicken Pizza and it's a pizza I have not made at home, so it was a no-brainer what we would be ordering.  After I took a picture, I reached in for a slice.  Initially, I was disappointed because the pizza wasn't very hot and it bent right over in my hand when I picked it up.  Then I tasted!  It didn't taste like the typical icky rice based crusts that I've had in too many restaurants.  It had just the right amount of toppings and everything tasted great, including the crust.  After eating two pieces, I decided I liked it so much because the crust reminded me of naan I used to eat in a Thai restaurant in Pittsburgh.  

The other three pizzas that can be made using GIG's certified procedures are the Pepperoni, Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage, and the Margherita. 

I give everything we ate at CPK an A+ and we will definitely be going back!  

You can view California Pizza Kitchen's restaurant locator here.  

Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly is several doors down from CPK at Waterford Lakes.  I stopped in to check out their gluten free raspberry chocolate cupcake.  Like the chocolate and red velvet I have had in previous visits, it was incredibly moist, but I found the icing and the filling to be too sweet, and there was just too much of them, and too little cake.  

My daughters and I met Hollis Wilder, three time winner of Cupcake Wars and owner of Sweet, at a cupcake decorating class back in November.  She and her staff bent over backwards to accommodate the gluten issues of everyone in our group.  Sweet now offers vegan/gluten free options also.

January 3, 2014 Update

Today, my daughter Emma and I went to the CPK at The Mall at Millenia for lunch.  We decided to order the Petite Wedge, a gluten free choice on the Small Plates menu.  We subbed champagne vinaigrette for the blue cheese dressing.   

It was a really great salad!  My daughter and I loved the combination of Nueske's applewood smoked bacon, chopped egg, and tomato.  I let Emma eat almost all of it because I was afraid she wouldn't like the BBQ chicken pizza.  My child who doesn't usually like pizza actually ate two pieces and said it was good.  

February 6, 2014 Update -- Yesterday, I had lunch at CPK with one of my GFFs.  She loved the Roasted Veggie salad with chicken she ordered.  It looked great!  

February 16, 2014 Update - Tonight, we ordered the gluten free Margherita pizza.  It was very good, but I prefer the BBQ Chicken pizza.  

My mother-in-law ordered one of her favorites, the gluten free asparagus and arugula salad from the small plates menu.  It looked pretty incredible!

October 27, 2014 Update

Over the weekend, we ate at the California Pizza Kitchen at The Mall at Millenia, and I was very disappointed with the two gluten free pizzas we ordered.  The crust was dry, and didn't even seem to be very hot, so I sent them back.  My pizzas were cooked more, which made them taste a little better, but it left me wondering if CPK has changed the ingredients or cooking method of their gluten free pizza crust.  Last time we were at Waterford Lakes, the pizza crust seemed dry and a bit cold as well.  I'm not sure what is going on, but after having mediocre crust the last two or three visits, I don't think I will be ordering pizza at California Pizza Kitchen anymore, which makes me very sad, because it used to be so good.  I did ask our server if any changes were made to the ingredients or cooking method of the crust, or if it could be stale.  He assured me no changes had been made, and that they get new gluten free crusts every two days, and he told me the package mine came out of was opened that morning.

July 19, 2015 Update

Tonight, I decided to give CPK's gluten free pizza a try again.  I ordered a BBQ chicken pizza without onion and cilantro, and it was just as good as I remember it being the first couple of times I tried it.  It was a little brown around the edges, but it still tasted great.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at California Pizza Kitchen?  


  1. The GF pizzas are very good but .... as you experienced, the crust can come out undercooked, especially if your pizza has lot of toppings. Ask for it to be Well Done and your chances are better. The GF crust does't cook like the regular crusts, and the cooks often don't compensate for that. This is also true at BJ's.

    1. I actually liked it that way because it tasted like naan. The second time it was cooked more and was a bit burnt around the edges, so it wasn't as good. I tried BJs a year or two ago and didn't like it.