UPDATE: As of October 2018, CPK no longer offers a regular certified gluten free pizza crust. They only offer the certified cauliflower crust which contains both dairy and egg. If you cannot have either of those allergens in addition to gluten, then they are no longer safe for you as their other GF menu items are not prepared in the dedicated space they have for gluten free pizzas. I am saddened by this news as it means I can no longer eat there. 😢
This past weekend my sisters, mother and I had a lovely girls day complete with sightseeing local historic buildings, shopping and of course, eating. We were about 40 minutes away from our hometown, so I was not familiar with the restaurants in the area. Having Celiac Disease really makes going out to eat a major challenge, not to mention the amount of stress and anxiety it causes. This day was spontaneous so I did not have my normal amount of time to conduct my restaurant research.
After a long day of sightseeing and intense shopping (yes intense, it’s a real workout, the saying “shop ’til you drop” is totally true), we were starving. We did not expect to be out all day so I had only brought enough snacks to get me through lunchtime. Since it was already 4:30pm and we had a 40 minute drive ahead of us plus about another hour to prepare and cook dinner, I decided to look for some celiac safe restaurants in the town that we were in using my favorite website, Find Me Gluten Free.
To my surprise, I found California Pizza Kitchen on the list marked as celiac friendly with a 100% review score from 7 people (for that specific location). Being a Celiac, I automatically dismiss chain restaurants (well, restaurants in general honestly) from being safe because they usually aren’t regardless if they have a gluten free menu or not. Since it appeared to be our only option, we decided to go for it, and I am SO glad we did.
As soon as we entered the restaurant we were greeted by a smiling man at the host stand. I asked if they had a separate gluten free menu and began to explain that I have Celiac Disease and asked if they were able to properly accommodate me. To my surprise, he was extremely knowledgeable about celiac and informed me that they have a certified gluten free pizza menu and that they could also properly accommodate me if I wanted to order something off of the regular menu. At that point, I told him that I also cannot have dairy and double checked that they would be able to do that as well, he told me that they absolutely could. I was elated!
I started off with their Sangria Flight. Our server took the order and told me she was 99.9% sure that the sangrias were gluten free but she just wanted to double check the ingredients to make sure. That made me feel good because I knew that they were serious about my health condition and making sure I did not get sick. A few minutes later the same man I originally talked to (whom we later found out was the manager) came over with an ingredient list and read off all of the ingredients in the 3 sangria flavors and we confirmed together that we were good to go. It was delicious, the Beehive Sangria (far right) was my favorite!
For my main dish I ordered the BBQ Chicken Pizza without cheese and added pineapples from the certified GF pizza menu, of course. I decided on this because it seemed to be the thing that most of the reviewers raved about and also because I have not been able to order pizza in YEARS. I was thrilled to see my dish come out with a special gluten free marker on it, further making me feel safe and keeping my anxiety at a minimum. The reviewers were right, it was an AMAZING pizza!
The manager came by with our server about 10 minutes after the food was delivered to check in and see how I liked the pizza and to ask how I was feeling (which caught me off guard because I have NEVER had a restaurant care so much about making sure I was okay). I told him that it was the most amazing pizza I have ever had and that I was feeling wonderful! I felt as if I was eating in my own home, thats how comfortable and welcome I was feeling!
Needless to say the customer service and food were exceptional! My overall experience was fantastic and California Pizza Kitchen has just gained a customer for LIFE! It was so refreshing to be able to enjoy a nice meal with my family and not have high anxiety with the fear that I would get cross-contaminated. I will be returning very soon and I cannot wait to explore all of the other great things they have on their menu!
*Menu items may differ depending on location. Link to their nutritional/allergen guide here.