I recently completed a 30-day gluten-free challenge, eliminating wheat products from the daily menu. It was a very successful challenge, I lost some weight and more importantly, I feel better as a result, with no bloating, gas, or other digestive problems from eating too much gluten. I've maintained the GF diet regimen post-challenge and on a Saturday night for dinner, I met up with a buddy of mine from my military days, Ben, and his wife Kelly.
We decided on BJ's Brewhouse for the evening meal, a place we're all familiar with and enjoy. BJ's started off as a pizza joint before it became a full-service restaurant and brewhouse. They may be known for their pizza, but they also crank out some stellar appetizers, tasty burgers, specialty entrees, and mouth-watering pasta dishes. If you still have room, there's a decadent dessert called Plzookie, with a variety of flavor options to choose from.
When it came time to order and with that pizza joint background in mind, I ordered BJ's Classic Combo Pizza on a gluten-free crust, the toppings being pepperoni, mushrooms, Italian sausage, seasoned tomatoes, and BJ's signature five-cheese blend. I was anxious to sample the gluten-free crust, served up thin and crispy style. Ben decided on a Hickory Brisket & Bacon Burger with fries, and Kelly opted for Burger Sliders with roasted vegetables.
It took a while for our meals to arrive, and by the time our food came, the crowd had already started to thin out. The time passing by was no big deal, we were busy with some great conversation, and our server did come out to update us on the status at one point, but when our order did finally arrive, I was given the wrong pizza by another member of the staff. As I was noting out loud the toppings didn't look right, our server swooped in with the correct pie.
In taking that first bite, the robust flavor of the seasoned tomatoes hit me first, followed by the subtle spice of the pepperoni and the juiciness of the plump morsels of Italian sausage. The cheese had a nice pull, the sauce provided those zesty notes you look for, and the mushrooms were a great compliment, but the crust - the foundation of a pizza pie - was a bit of a disappointment. A good thin and crispy crust should deliver a nice, savory, cracker-like, slightly crunchy bite on the exterior, yet have a tender, flaky texture on the interior. Instead of thin and crispy, I got thin and chewy. Pulling off a good pizza crust with gluten-free dough is a challenge, what I got on this occasion didn't rise to the challenge... (see what I did there... "rise" to the challenge...). The toppings and sauce saved this pizza, the portions were generous and the flavor was there, but the texture of the crust was less-than-stellar.
With the pizza and some lemonade costing a little over $20, I'm going to pass on the gluten-free pizza options next time I visit BJ's Brewhouse, in my humble foodie opinion, it's not worthy of a repeat buy.
Scoring: The pizza scored 48 out of a possible 63 points, earning a 3-star rating. Just one more point would have earned 4 stars. What was otherwise a pretty good pie, was done in by the chewy texture of the crust.
$pend Wisely My Friends...
Located at 7960 E Kellogg Dr N, Wichita, KS 67207, in the Towne East Mall parking lot, this dining experience was not as good as what Ben, Kelly, and I are accustomed to at BJ's Brewhouse. Our server, while polite, wasn't all that attentive. She performed most of the obligatory functions, but the follow-ups just weren't there, the little things such as a timely drink refill, and the clearing of dinner plates before dessert arrives.