Sunday, September 25, 2016

California Pizza Kitchen

This post was last updated October 15, 2017

Earlier today, we had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen in Monterey, California.  CPK is one of our favorite chain restaurants, and we used to dine at their Waterford Lakes and Millenia Mall locations when we lived in Orlando.  You can read my previous reviews here.

I rarely eat gluten free pizza at restaurants, because of cross contamination concerns, but I don't have to worry when I go to California Pizza Kitchen.  In 2013, they introduced four gluten free pizzas that are safe for people with celiac disease - the original BBQ chicken pizza, pepperoni, mushroom pepperoni sausage, and margherita.

So how does CPK keep their gluten free pizza safe? They removed wheat flour from their gluten-filled pizza prep stations, and started using rice flour instead, so there is no wheat flour in the air.  Gluten free toppings are kept in a designated area in color coded containers.  Gluten free pizzas are cooked in a pan with a rim that prevents the pizza from touching gluten-filled pizzas in the oven, and they are cut on designated cutting boards with a designated cutting wheel, then an allergy stick is placed in the pizza before it is delivered to the table by a manager.  When a gluten free pizza is ordered, the ticket says to call a manager, who oversees the preparation of the pizza.  After washing his or her hands, the cook puts on blue gloves that match the color of all the gluten free food containers and tools.  The gluten and dairy free pizza dough, which contains rice flour, potato flour, tapioca, salt, extra virgin olive oil and cane sugar, is not made in house.  CPK's gluten free pizza menu states that, "these gluten-free pizzas are prepared using the strict procedures approved by The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), using a certified gluten-free crust and other ingredients verified by our suppliers as gluten-free."

On their regular menu, California Pizza Kitchen does label other items that are made with gluten free ingredients, but they are not prepared using certified procedures like the four pizzas, and CPK warns, like most restaurants, that they are made in shared preparation and cooking areas.  Today, I ordered my favorite pizza, the original BBQ chicken pizza with BBQ sauce and smoked Gouda.  I asked that the red onions and cilantro be left off, and added Nueske's applewood smoked bacon and fresh pineapple.

The crust around the edges looked a little burnt, like it usually does, but it tasted great.  They forgot to omit the cilantro, but it was easy to remove most of it, and I don't mind cilantro in small quantities.  This was the first time I have ordered a BBQ chicken pizza at CPK with pineapple, which was recommended by my daughter Emma, who tried it and liked it on our trip to Alaska this summer.  My pizza was incredible, and I did not feel like I was missing out on the gluten-filled pizza my family was eating.

I ate three of the six pieces, then asked for a box to take the rest home.  I could have eaten more, but I wanted to save some room for a trip to Kara's Cupcakes, which is also located in Del Monte Center in Monterey.  You can read my review of Kara's gluten free cupcakes here.

October 15, 2017 Update

Twice in the past month, we have dined at the California Pizza Kitchen in Monterey.  Both times, I ordered their margherita pizza with Italian tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and Parmesan.

Yesterday, I was disappointed when I saw my pizza, because it looked overcooked, but it was so good, I ate it all except one piece, which I shared with my husband.  He actually liked it better than both of the gluten-filled pizzas my daughters ordered, because of how crispy the crust was.  With a little bit of salt, it was thin crust pizza perfection.

Here is a more updated picture of their gluten free pizza menu.

You can view CPK's store locator here.  What are your favorite gluten free options at California Pizza Kitchen?


Post a Comment