Last year I was in Tallahassee for work and like most trips to other cities I did a search for gluten-free options. Tallahassee was where I first had the gluten-free awesomeness that is Jason’s Deli on an earlier trip. On this trip I was surprised to see that BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse had gluten-free pizza. I knew BJ’s from back in Portland when many of the Pietro’s Pizzas were changed into BJ’s when I was a kid. I have no idea why that conversion sticks so clearly in my mind, especially since I couldn’t eat pizza (thus rarely went to Pietro’s except for an occasional person’s birthday party or a soccer team celebration), but I thought about Pietro’s every time I saw a BJ’s. Then after freshmen year of college a friend’s mom moved close to a BJ’s and a few of us would go there pretty often that summer (especially during Discovery Channel’s Shark Week). My friends loved the Pizookie’s. At the time though there weren’t many gluten-free items unfortunately.
This time in Tallahassee a co-worker and I went to BJ’s and I ordered the gluten-free pepperoni pizza. It was pretty good from how I remember it. What I remember much more clearly is that at the end of our meal the waitress asked if we wanted to get a gluten-free Pizookie. Not even knowing previously that was a possibility, the answer was most definitely “Uh YES!” If you didn’t guess from before, a Pizookie is a pizza cookie! The gluten-free is chocolate chip (regular has several flavors) and comes in a tin pan with ice cream on top. The tin pan means that some of the Pizookie is crisp and crunchy (outside and bottom), while other parts are soft and gooey (middle). I would rank it very high on the list of delicious chocolate chip cookies when it comes to taste and probably #1 when it comes to texture.
I’m not sure why at the time I didn’t blog about BJ’s, but I didn’t and I didn’t think about it too much after that (despite how delicious the Pizookie was). Then a few months ago something made me look to see if there were any BJ’s locations in Miami. There was one in Doral and one down south near The Falls. I filed the information away in my brain. Then about a month ago I just became fixated with going to BJ’s. It certainly had to do with the Pizookie, but I am not sure why the urge became so strong all of a sudden.
Neither Doral or The Falls is super close, but I just couldn’t shake the strong desire to visit and the need to get my hands on a Pizookie. So one Sunday I decided to incorporate BJ’s into an adventure with my little brother. But let’s be honest- regardless of what we did, the main attraction and motivation would be a visit to BJ’s.
The location in Doral is very close to Dolphin Mall, so that seemed like a possibility. Looking at a map I noticed it was right next to Miami International Mall. I had never been there and didn’t know what it’s story was (especially almost right next to Dolphin Mall). I texted my friend and she said Miami International Mall had the more upscale stores (maybe because Dolphin Mall has a lot of outlets?). Interesting.
Given that my adventures with my little brother start earlier in the day, we went first into the mall and then I figured we’d watch some football at BJ’s (along with the main attraction- the Pizookie). I don’t shop or know enough about clothes/stores to say that Miami International Mall is more upscale than the Dolphin Mall, although it seemed to have some nice stores. It’s definitely noticeably smaller than Dolphin Mall. We stopped off in Best Buy mobile to look at the new iPhone and then also did some shopping at Old Navy. I got a shirt I liked, which “unfortunately” led to me getting like 5 other shirts of differing styles and colors the next day online at Old Navy for Cyber Monday…
After we had explored the mall, we headed over to BJ’s. I got a pepperoni and sausage pizza, while my little brother got a burger. I was happy with the gluten-free pizza. The crust was on the medium side. Not too dry or crumbly (a big plus) with some crisp (without being charred like a lot of thin gluten-free crusts). The pizza overall was also very traditional American style, which I like a lot (gotta love that cheese and grease right?).
Of course the thing I had been waiting for was the Pizookie! And it did not disappoint. In fact sharing with my little brother, I almost felt compelled to order a second one… I don’t know if my Pizookie quota was met, although I doubt it will ever be. It has a taste and texture of gluten chocolate chip cookies. Plus towards the end the melting ice cream makes a gooey, delicious mess of chocolate, dough, and vanilla ice cream. I know that the sensible part of my brain will prevent me from making too frequent of trips out to Doral/The Falls (or Pembroke Pines if I am more up north). But I also know my taste buds and stomach will ensure that there will be return visits.
I think all gluten-frees, especially those who have been gluten-free for a while, should try a gluten-free Pizookie at least once (which will then lead to having it many more times I am sure). The gluten-free pizza is also pretty good so there are a lot of reasons to make BJ’s a stop!
BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse- 1401 NW 107th Ave Doral, FL (locations in The Falls, Pembroke Pines, and across the U.S.)