Wednesday, November 27, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen :: Newly Remodeled Arden Fair Mall Location & Gluten-Free Options

 I received a complimentary meal & gift card for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

California Pizza Kitchen at the Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, California recently unveiled a complete remodel along with enhanced menu offerings. With this in mind, I was thrilled with the invitation to experience this newly re-imagined CPK location with my family last Saturday. 

The newly designed restaurant features reclaimed wood on the interior and exterior, creating an elevated yet casual appeal. I felt very comfortable inside and I enjoyed the large windows, allowing in plenty of natural light. There is lots of seating, and even a bar area too.

Since going gluten-free over a year ago, eating out has been a struggle. I've had restaurants tell me certain menu items were gluten-free, only to discover that cross-contamination was not only a huge possibility, but a guarantee. Fries cooked in the same oil used for battered and fried chicken are not gluten-free, for example. I've been "glutened" more times than I'd like to admit.

Thankfully, there are some restaurants that actually know what it means to make every effort to offer menu items that are really gluten-free. CPK is one of those, however, they go even further by partnering with the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) for their four delicious gluten-free pizza options.

CPK's four gluten-free pizzas are The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza, Pepperoni, Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage, and Margherita. Although any of CPK's pizzas can be made on their gluten-free crust for an additional $2, these four pizzas are the ones that can be prepared using the strict procedures approved by GIG as outlined here:
  • Using a certified gluten-free crust and other ingredients verified by California Pizza Kitchen’s suppliers as gluten-free.
  • Sanitizing prep areas.
  • Washing hands thoroughly and wearing designated gloves during preparation.
  • Using separate and designated equipment, such as separate pizza peel, spatula, pizza wheel, utensils, plates etc.
  • Cooking the pizzas in a separate foil pan.
CPK also partners with GIG to perform unannounced restaurant site visits to check that GIG’s strict procedures are being followed. The gluten-free pizza menu also displays the Gluten Free Food Service (GFFS) certification logo to indicate the independent verification of quality, integrity and purity of food preparation policies, education and standards at CPK. It's important to understand that cross-contamination is always possible when you're talking about a gluten-filled restaurant, but it's comforting to know that every effort is being made to prepare and cook my pizza without coming into contact with gluten.

Before our pizza arrived, I enjoyed my salad! The menu has several gluten-free options to choose from, including this delicious Caramelized Peach salad. The combination of peaches, cranberries, red onions, toasted pecans and Gorgonzola was lovely, and their simple housemade white balsamic vinaigrette seemed to really bring out the intensity of all the flavors. I loved it, and will definitely be ordering this same salad next time.

We ordered two gluten-free pizzas that are designated as gluten-free on their menu. This the Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage. It's perfectly spicy and reminiscent of a meat-lovers style pizza from my former gluten-filled days.

We also ordered the gluten-free Original BBQ Chicken Pizza. This iconic pizza is what CPK is really known for. The BBQ sauce is one of the best I've ever had, I just wish there was more of it! Next time I'll be asking for a side of BBQ sauce so I get more in each bite. I'm definitely a sucker for BBQ.

Both of these gluten-free pizzas were absolutely delicious. The crust wasn't at all similar to cardboard, or overly gummy either. It was crispy and just like a normal thin crust pizza. Hubby ordered a regular pizza also, and he didn't notice any difference between his pizza and the gluten-free pizzas, except for the obvious puffy outer crust on his regular pizza. I definitely didn't feel as though I was missing out on real pizza, and really found it these to be quite satisfying.

The outstanding service from our waiter, the CPK manager, and the rest of the staff at CPK was definitely memorable. Everyone was very attentive, drinks were always refilled without asking, food was brought out timely, and there is nothing poor I can really make note of. We had a very pleasant experience.

California Pizza Kitchen is concerned about food allergies and sensitivities. Check the CPK menu for links to their allergen menu, gluten-free menu, vegetarian and vegan menu, and nutrition guide. It's so exciting to see a company recognize the need for gluten-free regulations especially. With GIG's strict procedures in place, I can eat at CPK and actually enjoy my meal without fear of what I might feel like later. I'm excited to try some other gluten-free menu items next time we stop in at CPK.


barnold barnes said...

Kudos to California Pizza Kitchen for making gluten free options. I'm not gluten free but I can imagine the horror of a life without pizza.

renata said...

I love CPK's salads as they are so nutritious and packed with fruits and veggies! I will have to try the Carmelized Peach next too!

Ellen said...

Love that they have gluten free. Wish there was one near me.

Athena Nagel said...

I live in an area where gluten free would seem like a foreign policy! However, personally I would love to have a gluten free restaurant near me. I have two special needs children who could definitely benefit from a gluten free diet.

savannah said...

Yum!! Their food looks so good! I love that they offer glutten free! My dad is on a glutten free diet so it can be super tough to go out to eat with him.
I live in PA i'm hoping they have one near me!!

Salleefur/Jesselyn/Jesster said...

Thank you so much for the heads up on this VERY welcome news (that I somehow managed to miss!)

A group of use girls (we go WAY back!) used to get together / meet at a California Kitchen several times a year (it's located in our favorite shopping mall!)

THe food and mood was always fine and a good time was had by al! But several years ago several members of the old gang were afflicted with celiac disease and gluten intolerance and our longstanding and beloved tradition abruptly came to an end...

Now I can't wait to tell the others - we're back in business! And just in time for holiday shopping -
We've really missed our old haunt. I'm glad to see they've decided to catch up with the times!

Jesselyn A/Jesstinger

Thanks for sharing the good news.

Kristy Figueroa said...

Since having to eat gluten free I have really missed pizza most! I'm excited to go try the gluten free pizza at CPK!!

Jen F said...

I think it is great that they have gluten free options. I wish there was a California Pizza near us!

Anonymous said...

that is awesome to have gluten free pizza and it looks so good!
i would love to have this for dinner! i might it for dinner this everning!
anne hill
calliope_123 at hotmail dot com

Betzy Carmona said...

I love pizza & that look delicious :)

charychild said...

I'm happy it tastes good. My attempts at home to make gluten-free pizza dough did not turn out as well as I'd hoped!

Brittney Minor said...

Everything looks very good! It is nice to see restaurants catering to dietary needs!

bec said...

I love that they are carring GF. That's hard to find where I live