Thursday, June 3, 2010

B.J.’s Restaurant and Brewhouse offers a new gluten-free menu

Special thanks goes out to a friend, fellow Celiac, and local blogger, Janel Berchielli, “Unlimited Thinking” for the heads up on BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse’s  new gluten-free menu which began on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010. It is my feeling that B.J.’s must have had this in the works for quite some time, as awhile back while researching for local gluten-free alcohol in December 2009 I had contacted the General Manager at B.J.’s in Natomas as to their gluten-free offerings and this is what he had said then: “Our restaurants can provide information for guests who have food and allergen sensitivities or an intolerance to gluten. Please ask your server for a copy of our Food and Allergen Sensitivities Menu and Gluten-Free Selections.”

So it is my understanding that B.J.’s has always had some gluten-free selections to choose from, but not a complete menu. They are thrilled to be introducing their new gluten-free pizza.

Director of Operations, Curt Siverling states: “We are very proud to launch our Gluten-Free Pizza on our new menu. We have been educating our management teams and team members on the gluten procedures and are ready to launch it at our locations on May 26. We are also introducing Red Bridge Beer on our menus; which is a popular gluten-free beer.”

Since it was my birthday, my husband decided to surprise me and take our family to B.J.’s Restuarant and Brewhouse on Monday, May 31st. After we were seated we asked for Gluten-free menu’s and the staff seemed to know what we were talking about right away. Their gluten-free menu’s were a little confusing at first, but once we figured it out it was really rather straight forward. The beginning of the menu lists off 10 allergens for each item on their menu. While this is great information for folks to have, since many folks have more than just Celiac, but we feel that it would better serve the menu on the back, rather than the front.

After you get through the first 5 pages of the menu you will get to the actual section of gluten-free selections. In the salad sections alone there are 8 salads to choose from (Prices range from $5.00 to $12.00). There are two soups to choose from Tuscan Tomato Bisque and Broccoli Cheddar (Prices: $5.00 to $7.00). There is a section of giant stuffed potatoes and proffer four offerings in this category ($10.00 to $15.00). The next section of the menu is the Specialty Entrees in which they offer 3 options (Steak, fish and chicken priced from $12.00 to $20.00). The next section they suggest Culinary Creations and have only one item in this category: Balsamic Glazed Chicken. Last but certainly not least is their section on Gluten-free Pizza. In this category they have one gluten-free thin crust pizza, but you can customize it to your liking with the many gluten-free toppings that they offer minus their meatballs. These are 10 inch pizzas that range from $8.95 for no toppings other than cheese, and you can design your own pizza with any of their many toppings (add $1.00 per topping). In the section for non-alcoholic beverages they offer 25 different options that are gluten-free. In the alcohol section there is currently only two options: Redbridge Beer ($5.50 per 12 oz. bottle), and their Berry Burst Cider ($5.75 per pint). They are waiting to see how popular this section can become before adding it to it, and also whether they will even keep Redbridge Beer on their menu.

As it was our first time at B.J.’s with their new gluten-free menu we were a bit leery so we questioned the waitress to see how familiar she was with this new menu. She did not know much about it and so we asked for someone who was completely familiar with the menu, and she brought us the manager, Cliff who stood by as she too our complete order, and then assured us that he was by each item being prepared for us to ensure it not be cross-contaminated. This helped us to relax and enjoy the ambience.

The manager, Cliff assured us that there is a separate prep area, that all pizza ingredients except for the meatballs are gluten-free. We were told that those working on gluten-free menu items must change out all of their gloves on the line and that they use tools specific to gluten-free and the cooks in the kitchen were trained in how to handle everything to avoid cross-contamination. Cliff said their entire staff was able to see how the gluten-free food was prepared and to taste them as well. This allowed staff to tell us from their own experience; what their encounters with the gluten-free selections were and what they liked about them. Once the pizza was delivered, Cliff came out to assure us that all went according to plan and the food was handled properly. He also assured us that he would be back to see how we enjoyed the meal. He tols us he was pretty confident that we would enjoy their menu, but most especially the gluten-free pizza.

While BJ’s is known for their pizza, we were not entirely excited to order it since there are many gluten-free pizzas on the market that have left a lot to desire in flavor, texture, and most importantly in price. But we were pleasantly surprised at how large the pizza was, how incredible the flavor and texture were and the close resemblance to regular pizza. Cliff told us that they buy the crust frozen from Venice Bakery  in El Segundo, CA (there’s less chance for cross-contamination if they are not mixing up the dough in the restaurant kitchen.) It is a medium thin, crispy “herb infused” crust. He also explained that when the large quantities for cheese, sauce, and other pizza toppings are freshly opened, they take off the amount that they think they will need for the gluten-free pizzas for the day; thereby, eliminating the risk of cross-contamination. The station for prep on gluten-free menu items is constantly wiped down before and after each use. Cliff says that since they started their new gluten-free menu they have had many folks coming in requesting it.

Being the foodies that we are we tried to order one item from each category. In other words we ordered one Tuscan Tomato Bisque, one Italian Market Salad, one gluten-free pizza with mushrooms and Italian sausage, and the Balsamic Glazed Chicken served over baby greens, caramelized onions, and white cheddar mashed potatoes, drizzles with a sweet balsamic glaze. Make sure when ordering the Tuscan Tomato Bisque to request NO croutons, and on the balsamic glazed chicken NO onion strings. With all of the food that we sampled our absolute favorite was the pizza. There was no funny gritty texture, and no funky bean aftertaste, and yet the texture of the pizza was exquisite. The second favorite item was the Tuscan Tomato Bisque. It was creamy, and tasted of fresh tomatoes, sweet basil and cheese. We could take or leave the salad, and the balsamic glazed chicken was a little dry. Once we requested extra balsamic glaze it was fine. The white cheddar mashed potatoes were to die for. Overall our experience with B.J.’s Restaurant and Brewery were exceptional. We not only loved the variety of items on the menu, and the delicious food, but we greatly appreciated the time and effort that was presented to us while obtaining the details on how they provide and ensure a gluten-free menu. Please make sure to ask for Nick Walker, General Manager at the Natomas Restaurant.

For More Information:

Sacramento Area B.J.’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

3531 N. Freeway Blvd

9237 Laguna Springs Dr.

2730 E. Bidwell St.
1200 Roseville Pkwy.

Facts about B.J.’s

Take out menu

Click here for locations

For more on gluten-free foods and gluten-free dining


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.