Review of Gluten-free Menu and Pizza at BJ’s Brewhouse in California +

February 9th, 2011 yum Posted in Bay Area, Ca, Oregon, Restaurant Review, Travel, Washington State 5 Comments »

BJ’s Brewhouse
10690 N. De Anza Blvd.
Cupertino, CA 95014
408.865.6970 TEL
Gluten-free menu including Pizza
11am-12am Monday-Thursday
11am-1am Friday
10am-1am Saturday
10am-12am Sunday

You can also find Locations in California (51), Texas (20), Arizona (6), Florida (6), Nevada (4), Colorado (4), Oregon (2), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (2) Washington (2), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), and possibly Lahaina Hawaii (with a limited menu).

The DH came back from a business trip to Israel and found himself in sunny California jet-lagged, starving, and awake on a certain Saturday morning. We decided the best course of action would be to take ourselves to a restaurant, post haste. But where to go? I have mentioned several times that a good friend of mine from our Gluten-free Support Group recently wrote an article recommending her favorite gluten-free pizza joints. One of her absolute favorites was the pizza at BJ Brewhouse. This is ironic. I’ve lived in Sunnyvale for several years and passed the BJ Brewhouse in Cupertino countless times and snubbed it. A microbrewery with a food menu? Those places usually have, at best, a salad or two that MIGHT be adaptable for a gluten-free vegetarian. Might, if they don’t coat the lettuce greens in breadcrumbs just so they match the rest of the menu. Every time the DH made noises about how it might be nice to stop and get a beer, I was less than enthused, so we’d always end up going to the nearby Outback Steakhouse, where at least I could get a Gluten-free Chocolate Thunder from Down Under and a hearty baked potato, not in that order but ordered by preference. But then my friend tells me, while our Gluten-free toddlers are toddling along on a playdate, that BJ Brewhouse has a fantastic gluten-free pizza baked on a Venice Bakery Crust. Who knew! They do, in fact, have a full gluten-free menu which includes salads, soups, omelettes (brunch menu) and protein bits in addition to pizza. The only thing they don’t have is a thrilling gluten-free dessert, unless root beer floats float your boat.

The atmosphere is a combination between a cleaner microbrewery and upscale family-style restaurant. The designers of the Cupertino location really like diverse lighting, as you will see if you just look up. Tract lighting, chandeliers, everyday lamps and hanging bistro lights add ambiance, as do the brewing vats behind glass in the corner. Ordering at BJ Brewhouse is remarkably painless. If you want just a pizza, the gluten-free option is listed on their regular menu. Otherwise you need to ask for their gluten-free menu. The first time we went we had a pizza with fresh basil and artichoke hearts. Excellent! The second time, I went with roasted red pepper and, yes, fresh basil. What can I say, I’m a basil girl. I also tried their highly tasty tomato soup, their California Omelet (which does not seem to include their gluten-containing potatoes), and most recently their Italian Market Salad. Everything has been good, and satisfying. And, while it isn’t exactly fine dining, the prices are quite decent. While I love going to unique family-owned restaurants, sometimes I really, really like the security of dining gluten-free with a chain; this is especially the case when they have gluten-free down to a science as they seem to at BJ Brewhouse.

The pizza has turned out to be my favorite, locally available pizza. I like Jina’s idea to order it with extra sauce, although we haven’t done so yet, and the pizza has been appropriately crispy both times I ordered it. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed their Italian Market Salad, ordered without salami to make it vegetarian. It had several kinds of lettuce, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, basil, artichoke hearts, olives, roasted red pepper, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, and more. Basically all my favorite things, in something that felt way too hearty to be a salad. Perfect!

BJ Brewhouse is a great place to go with Baby Yum. She loves the pizza, and the booths are very handy for babies and toddlers. She has tried and seemed to enjoy everything we ordered. And for our part, the DH and I are happy to have found another option where we can all eat safely and enjoy ourselves, without going bankrupt. I would definitely recommend BJ Brewhouse to others. I haven’t had so much as a tummy rumble after eating there, and that speaks for itself. Unless of course it was a tummy rumble for MORE PIZZA!

Have you eaten at BJ’s Brewhouse? What is your favorite thing on their gluten-free menu? Tell me in the comments!

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California News: Gluten-free Ravioli at Sunnyvale and Mountain View Costco

January 17th, 2011 yum Posted in Ca, Gluten Free Pasta, Gluten Free Product Review, gluten free ravioli 20 Comments »

I don’t usually find Costco trips to be especially worthy of blog posts. However, I just have to share news of a recent find at the Sunnyvale and Mountain View Costcos in California. Thanks to a tip from another gluten-free blogger and friend, I found out that these Costcos are currently carrying awesome corn and rice-based gluten-free Four cheese ravioli in their refrigerator section. Yes, Costco! Who would have thought. They retail for $10 for a 2 pound, 2 part pack. The portions are generous and one pack easily fed our family of three. Now granted, since my Mother is now living with us, we are actually a family of four, but since she can’t have dairy, it was just the three of us.

The company responsible for these lovely ravioli packs is based in Benecia, California and called Pasta Prima. They have NO INFO about this awesome pasta on their web site, and I couldn’t find any articles about it, but it is labeled gluten-free in big print on the front. According to company representatives, “Pasta Prima Gluten Free Five Cheese Ravioli meets all of the requirements of the Gluten Free Certification Organization.” Yay! On a personal note, our family and my friend’s family tried it and didn’t have any reactions. I love that! This pasta was extremely yummy, and an amazingly good price for gluten-free pasta, so if you live in California you might check your local Costco refrigerator case. It was in the middle of all the other refrigerated ravioli and I almost missed it because I am so used to ignoring that section. Luckily my husband has sharp eyes!

I hope you are able to find it and enjoy it as much as we did. They are very easy to make- all you do is boil them in water for four minutes and add a sauce of choice. 18 month old Baby Yum thought it was the tastiest thing ever. And yes, in this photo, she is eating little squares of it with a fork. How she has grown! My husband said it tasted just like gluten ravioli. Unfortunately, and probably of no surprise to any of you, it does contain dairy and egg. I have yet to find any vegan ravioli that is not homemade, alas. This post was an impulsive last-minute thing, so I apologize for the lack of pretty pictures.

Funny story- My friend posted a picture of their baby enjoying this ravioli on Facebook. I thought it would be fun to take a picture of Baby Yum enjoying it for my personal Facebook page as well. Anyway, when she saw this picture on the computer, Baby Yum said “nom nom nom”, hopped down, climbed up in her booster seat, grabbed her bib and tried to put it on while saying “more, more.” How could I argue with that? The girl got another ravioli.

Other favorite gluten-free finds at my local Costco’s:
4 pound bags of TruRoots gluten-free quinoa
Tasty Bite Madras Lentils
Large packs of my favorite Chaokoh Coconut Milk (sans guar gum)
Lovely large containers of McCormick’s Turmeric, Coriander, and Sesame Seeds

Yes, our Costco has a certain international flair. I’m just excited that they are offering these gluten-free ravioli, and by publicizing them, I hope that they may decide to keep stocking them. You know you want some!

Breaking news: A Pasta Prima designer (bless her) shared in the comments that this pasta is available in ALL Northern California Costco locations. If you live somewhere else, request it from your local Costco and hopefully they will pick up this great product.

Note: 99.9% of the photos I use on my blog are mine. However, the above photo is a professional photo supplied by Pasta Prima. (The shame of not having a photo was too much for me, so I emailed them asking for it!)

PS I apologize that this post may not apply to my food-sensitive readers. As you may have noticed, we have expanded our diets to include dairy and eggs as Baby Yum has become able to tolerate them. It has been a huge relief that she did not develop allergies despite the severe case of allergic colitis that she had as an infant, and makes me feel very happy that I stuck it out and continued breastfeeding her. However, I promise that you will still find vegan and allergen-sensitive recipes on the Book of Yum in the future, so please bear with me!

Breaking News 6/27/2011:
Some Costco’s may not be currently carrying the Gluten-free Pasta Prima ravioli. However, it has been picked up Raley’s , Lucky, and Albertson’s stores in our area, so check to see if any of those stores are carrying it.

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