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California Pizza Kitchen Restaurant Review

dd1I published my first blog post about California Pizza Kitchen’s gluten-free items about three years ago when I first started blogging. It was right before they pulled their gluten-free pizza off the menu. CPK decided to start over and reintroduce their GF pizza…”the right way.” While they kept certain GF items on the menu, they put the GF pizza on hold. They then approached the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America for a restaurant certification and made many changes to the process of making gluten-free pizza crust in their restaurants. Here are the important points to understand about CPK’s gluten-free menu items including the new GF pizza.

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CPK’s 4 GIG “certified” gluten-free pizzas

Important Points to understand about CPK’s GF menu items

1) The Gluten Intolerance Group of North American (GIG) certifies restaurants that use the strict procedures approved by GIG. There are currently four “GIG certified” items on the CPK menu. They include the pizzas listed on the small menu above: GF Margherita, GF Chicken Barbecue, GF Mushroom Pepperoni Pizza and GF Pepperoni.

2) To be a “GIG certified” GF menu item at CPK, the food must be prepared in the new GF dedicated part of the kitchen and all of the ingredients used on the pizza must be from that dedicated area. For example, I requested goat cheese on my son’s pizza since we don’t do cow’ milk cheese. They could not certify his pizza because the goat cheese comes from another part of the kitchen that is not certified.

3) You can order a different style pizza not listed on the above menu with the GF crust, but it will not be “GIG certified.”

4) They use a blue sticker as seen below to seal all pizzas that are considered “certified.”

5) The manager is supposed to deliver any certified GF pizza. It is to be delivered upon completion, even if it’s done before the rest of the table’s food so that it does not sit around and potentially become contaminated with flour/gluten. The manager is also supposed to wash his/her hands before handling the pizza.

6) There are other menu items listed as “GF” on their regular menu. These dishes are not considered “GIG certified.” They are free of gluten ingredients but are not prepared in the dedicated part of the kitchen. The white corn guacamole and chips listed on the menu below is an example of this. This basically means that the dish is free of gluten ingredients but they cannot guarantee against cross contamination of gluten. I have inquired with CPK as to whether the chips are fried in dedicated oil but have not heard back yet.

7) CPK now uses rice flour to work all their pizza dough including wheat flour dough. This prevents the very small airborne flour molecules from contaminating the dedicated part of the kitchen.

8) I am told that the new CPK pizza dough is potato flour based.

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The special note about GIG certified pizzas at CPK

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White Corn Guacamole and others is GF but not certified by GIG

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The White Corn Guacamole and Chips starter

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Some of the salads that are GF but not GIG certified

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The Quinoa and Arugula Salad is no longer marked GF

This Quinoa and Arugula Salad has been a long time favorite of mine. It has never made me sick. I also like the Roasted Veggie Salad but it has made me sick before. I’m not sure why. I have checked with CPK numerous times and they confirm each time that they use olive oil in their salad dressings. I believe that canola oil, commonly used in restaurants, causes a very similar reaction in my gut as gluten.

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Caramelized Peach Salad with chicken

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Sam’s GF Barbecue Chicken Pizza with goat cheese

 

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Notice the burnt crust around the edge

I was a little disappointed with the burnt edges around Sammy’s GF pizza. He didn’t seem to mind and said the pizza was very good. He asked for more the next day.

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The GF sticker seal for the GIG certified GF pizzas

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One of the kids GF meals…chicken and broccoli

Now, this is my kind of children’s meal. This is one of the GF kid’s meals (not GIG certified) offered on the regular menu – grilled chicken and broccoli. I got very excited about it but Sam did not. I love it that CPK offers this. I wonder how many they sell?

Overall, I had a positive experience at CPK. I am waiting for answers to the following questions from CPK and will post their response here once I receive it. The answers are now posted below.

1)      Are all your salad dressing free of gluten ingredients?

CPK: No, the only dressings that we consider to be Gluten Free are our Dijon Balsamic and Champagne Vinaigrette

2)      Are all your salad dressing made with olive oil and not canola oil?

CPK: We use a combination of oils depending on the dressing.

3)      What is the flour blend used for your GF pizza crust?

CPK: We use a combination of rice, potato and tapioca flour.

4)      Do you make your own crust or buy it pre-made?

CPK: It’s our custom recipe made for us at a GF California bakery.

5)      I assume your barbecue sauce is GF. What brand do you use?

CPK: We use our own recipe.

6)      I noticed the quinoa and arugula salad is no longer marked GF. I thought it was before. I know it is not certified but is it free of gluten ingredients? If so, why is it no longer marked?

CPK: It technically is, but since partnering with GIG, we agreed that we could not put “GF” on any menu items unless it was certified by them. We are currently working towards certification.

7)      Are there plans for a GF dessert?

CPK: Not at this time.

8)      Do you offer any GF beers or hard cider? Someone told me they offer hard cider.

CPK: We do! Our Crispin Honey Crisp Cider is Gluten Free.

9)      Are the chips of the White Corn Guacamole and Chips fried in dedicated oil?

CPK: Yes.

10)   Are your GF pizzas baked in a separate oven?

CPK: They are not, but they are baked following the strict guidelines set by GIG.

This Restaurant Review earns a Coach Kim’s Pick and a Sam’s Pick.

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Post By Kim Rice (96 Posts)

I am a Wellness Coach and "warrior mom" of three children. I have been following a gluten and dairy-free diet since 2007. I have experienced amazing results losing over 60 pounds and a whole host of health issues along the way. My son on the autism spectrum has been on the diet since 2009 and it has changed the course of his life. He is now considered "recovered." As a Wellness Coach, I am passionate about helping others transition to a gluten and dairy-free lifestyle.

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  1. Jennifer S

    Wow Kim, great info! Thank you! I think I’ll try them out

    1. Kim Rice

      You’re welcome, Jennifer. Let me know about your experience. Kim

  2. Meg

    Thanks Kim!! I came across your info while checking out reviews for CPK. I loved eating there but I am nervous that it is going to make me sick since I am super sensitive

    1. Kim Rice

      let me now it goes when you try it out

  1. Restaurant Review – California Pizza Kitchen » Thriving Gluten-Free

    [...] see the new CPK review here: Updated California Pizza Kitchen review [...]

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