California Pizza Kitchen Turns 30; Celebrates with New Additions
I remember growing up in the San Fernando Valley, California Pizza Kitchen was the ‘it’ place to go during my school years. We celebrated classmates’ birthdays there and I even remember even going to CPK for dinner before Homecoming Dance. There were always a number of my favorite classic dishes I could rely on. But since leaving high school and going off to college and grad school, a trip to CPK became a rare occurrence. When it did happen once in a blue moon, my previous go-to dishes just didn’t taste as solid as they use to.Fast forward to the end of March, I was invited to taste-test the brand new offerings CPK has at their 30th birthday party celebration at the original location in Beverly Hills. I couldn’t wait to go. I was told they would have all sorts of new additions to CPK. New menu items? New cocktails? New renovations? Yes, please!Here's a picture of food pal Chef Jay and I at the event.I hate when businesses decide that they got it down and then they stop being creative and stop innovating. I say this because as a food writer, I’ve seen plenty of these instances over the years. A good business needs to get with the trends, set new trends, and constantly be challenging themselves to create better things. I’m so glad that instead of just throwing themselves a birthday party, CPK decided to also roll out new menu items and new restaurant designs to all of their restaurants. Did you know they serve prime-rib now too? Crazy.And you know it's going to be a good party when you see this. Any place that orders a four-tier customized cake knows how to get the party started. Here's what I ate at the birthday dinner!
The Blueberry Ginger Smash was made with Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, Monin Organic Agave Nectar, Domaine de Canton Ginger, Fresh Blueberries & Lime, and Cranberry Juice. It was tasty, but left something to be desired. Of the new cocktails I tried, it was good, but it wasn’t my Number one.
The Hand-Shaken Agave Mojito so good. It was made with Bacardi Superior Rum, Fresh Agave Sour, Fresh Mint and Lime, and Organic Hawaiian Sugar Cane. This was one of the best tasting mojitos I’ve had. I will definitely order this again. The mojito became my drink of choice all night. The new Seasonal Harvest Sangria also looked very delicious. Now you know, the key to my heart is through a good mojito… well and food of course.Every dish is made-to-order and will change according to the seasons. Ninety percent of the prep is from scratch. That’s pretty impressive considering how fast the food at CPK still comes out.
The California Flatbread: Bianco with Whipped truffle cream, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, and fresh sage. How could you not love anything with multiple cheeses and whipped truffle cream? So impressed. I would definitely order this again.
Bacon + Brussels California Flatbread made with roasted brussels sprouts with sweet caramelized onions, Nueske's applewood smoked bacon, creamy goat cheese, romano and cracked black pepper. If you love bacon, you'll love this. The brussels sprouts give it a good contrast in texture. The pizzas are hand-tossed artisan pizzas. I love that the chefs were making them on the spot in the open kitchen. You could see the whole cooking process from start to finish. Like with the flatbreads, which they use the same dough pretty much was delicious. What really sets each pizza from the other apart is the toppings. I started with the Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage Pizza not thinking much of it, but it was really good. Each slice packed a really good crunch. Wild Mushroom Pizza with shaved cremini, shiitake, portabello, and white mushrooms with slivered scallions, cracked black pepper, romano and mozzarella. It was topped off with with parmesan cheese with the option to add white truffle oil.
The server came over to ask if I wanted to add some white truffle oil with my pizza. I kind of just said hey, why not. Wow! This pizza was mind-blowing but the truffle oil is what took it to the next level! I have nothing but love for the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza, but I have to say this is my new favorite CPK pizza. This will be what I order each time from here on out. You can hold me to it!
Another big surprise of the night was the Avocado Club Egg Rolls. I have no problem admitting that my first instinct when I was asked if I wanted egg rolls was to pass. I'm so glad I did give it go though. I think I must have had 5 of them. I ate these over and over again. The Avocado Club Egg Rolls were made with hand-wrapped crispy wonton rolls filled with avocado, chicken, tomato, Monterey Jack and Nueske's applewood smoked bacon. Served with house made ranchito sauce and herb ranch.
Other tasty new additions I enjoyed included: California Fields Salad made with fresh watermelon, strawberries, and field greens with housemade Champagne vinaigrette Feta and California pistachios and the California Flatbread with Main Lobster. To see all the new offerings, check out the CPK website.
My sweet tooth was satisfied. Four delectable sweets within 10 minutes. I'm thrilled happy CPK is celebrating their next chapter with a new look and new menu. I had a great time and I was so surprised that how tasty all the new dishes were. I know I'll definitely be ordering the Wild Mushroom Pizza and Avocado Club Egg Rolls for my next trip. Make sure to check out all the new goodies at your local CPK and let me know what you like.
Thanks for having me CPK. Happy 30th!