While in Las Vegas, I had the pleasure of eating lunch at BJ's Brewhouse with a dear friend. I knew they had gluten-free pizza and a dessert called a Chocolate Chip Pizookie, but I was shocked to see the extent of their gluten-free options and allergen knowledge.
BJ's has a separate gluten-free menu with an allergen chart that denotes if an item contains: eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, MSG, sulfites, soy, and wheat. The gluten-free menu for this restaurant chain has been certified by the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program, which is a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. This certification denotes that the restaurant went the extra mile and established safe handling procedures to ensure their gluten-free menu items are free of cross contact.
Our server asked us if we had celiac disease, or if we were following the gluten-free diet for other medical reasons. Normally, this annoys me, but she wanted to make sure to label our order correctly, so the right allergen protocols were followed. The restaurant has a number of gluten-free customers, but some don't need to receive a 100% gluten-free meal, so cross contact is not an issue.
In addition to pizza, the menu boasts a selection of salads, soups, chicken, burgers (no bun), steak, salmon, and giant stuffed potatoes. The also offer Wyder's gluten-free cider, which is next to impossible to find on the strip in Vegas, and beer. I normally don't eat dairy, but I made an exception at this meal and shared both a stuffed broccoli and cheese potato and pizza.
Now, if you eat gluten-free, then you know that finding freshly made gluten-free crust/pizza is pretty nonexistent. Most restaurants use pre-made frozen crusts and some are definitely better than others. I think BJ's uses Venice Bakery's seasoned crust for their pizzas, which is vegan and soy-free too. The pizza only comes in one size (medium) and all of the toppings with the exception of the meatballs are gluten free.
The thin crust was so wonderfully flavorful and when cooked perfectly, like ours was, it was crunchy and chewy too. It wasn't like eating pizza on an over-cooked cracker and the crust was done all the way through, so it wasn't doughy. The seasoned crust added a depth of flavor that I haven't experienced before. This pizza was even good cold and I truly miss eating cold pizza.
The star of the meal was the chocolate chip Pizookie, which is a deep dish chocolate chip cookie, served warm and topped with ice cream. It is served in its own mini cast iron pan and arrives at the table perfectly warm and gooey and it is more than enough for two people to share. It can be quite difficult to find decent gluten-free dessert on a menu, let alone one that is served warm, so I highly recommend indulging in one.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at BJ's Brewhouse and I am saddened that this chain restaurant doesn't have a location in Georgia. If you have a BJ's in your area, I highly suggest you go and enjoy a reasonably-priced, very tasty, gluten-free meal. I know I did!