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California Pizza kitchen- opinions?

We just picked up a menu from California Pizza Kitchen which just opened in Wellesley. The place was packed at lunchtime. The menu is very extensive. We have never had food from any cpk- would love tohear from those of you who have.

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  1. CPK has an almost Cheesecake Factory-esque following, but I have never found anything of outstanding taste or quality on the menu aside from the grilled vegetable salad -- maybe. It's a warm salad of japanese eggplant, asparagus, onion and other veg on baby lettuce with a passable balsamic vinaigrette. Basic pizzas are simply just okay, and I find their more experimental pizzas to be pretty vile. Thai pizza and BBQ chicken pizza stand out -- flacid dough, sugary sauces, just too much of everything.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bostonbelle

      I agree with bostonbelle, I've never had anything remarkably tasty here as well, I don't get the cult following for it.

    2. I was in Hong Kong with my wife in November. She was on business and I got to tag along. HONG KONG! I was so excited. We are talking about one the best food destinations in the whole world! It was a 16 hour flight and I didn't sleep for 1 minute. Exhausted and smelly we stumbled to the hotel to shower and change. The cold water really invigorated me and I was ready for a night on the town. Her boss calls to invite us to dinner. I have visions of spicy crab, wonton noodles, and claypot rice dancing in my head. I am ready for the freshest seafood and real deal authentic Cantonese food. We are picked up in brand new BMW convertible. As we speed though the night, wind in my face I am getting hungrier and hungrier. The smell of the city is amazing as we rush past neon lit streets.

      We pull up to a mall (?) and are ushered into California Pizza Kitchen. My first meal in Hong Kong was California Pizza Kitchen.

      The rage welled up inside of me like a fast food tsunami as we sat down in the booth. By the time the BBQ chicken pizza arrived, I had totally lost my appetite. All my energy drained. The jet-lag caught up with me and I (as god is my witness) fell asleep in the booth while everyone ate their "food".

      And that is my opinion of the California Pizza Kitchen.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ac106

        Too funny, sorry, ac106.......
        So I'm guessing, whence next in La La Land, you won't be visiting The Mother Ship?
        Definitely not my style and very akin to Juicy Fruit martinis.

        Harp

      2. CPK's not someplace I'd seek out, but if we're in the neighborhood or at the mall, it's not a bad option. I think that the simpler dishes there are the best - my husband usually gets the tomato-basic-garlic pizza, and I love the BLT pizza on the whole wheat crust.

        1. The BBQ chicken salad is good. I sometimes order the tortilla soup, the Santa Fe chicken pizza and I once had a shrimp scampi pizza that was good.

          I also really like the hot fudge brownie sundae.

          As long as you go in with reasonable expectations, you will probably enjoy yourself. Don't expect gourmet and don't expect typical pizza. It's sweet, as others have mentioned. And it's about on the same level as Cheesecake Factory (not fantastic, but decent to enjoyable if you order the right thing).

          1. If you're trapped in a mall (literally, trapped....fierce storm outside that you reasonable don't want to drive home in or something like that) and need to eat, it's better than most chain fast food. (Although, if there were one of the cheesesteak-ish places in the food court, I'd do that first personally.) At some point they had a roast chicken with potatoes and onions pizza with a white wine based sauce that I liked to eat. I have no idea if that's still an option.

            They did invent the BBQ Chicken Pizza. For whatever that's worth.

            It's not pizza in the way that pizza is normally thought of. It's served on a flat bread, basically. Which doesn't, by itself, make it bad. But it's a large chain and does a very high volume and that combination tends to limit the quality to a level below where I choose to eat very often.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ccbweb

              "They did invent the BBQ Chicken Pizza. For whatever that's worth."

              They didn't invent it, but they may have been responsible for pushing it into the mainstream. The late Ed LaDou is most commonly credited as having invented the BBQ Chicken Pizza while he was chief pizza chef at Wolfgang Puck's original Spago's. Many people dispute that it was LaDou's creation, but clearly the dish was around long before CPK entered the marketplace.

              1. re: Arthur

                A more accurate timeline there, thanks. LaDou was the guy the two fellows who started CPK brought in to do their pizzas at the beginning. I believe LaDou "finalized" the recipe or some such thing for the BBQ Chicken pizza at CPK. But he probably served it at Spago many times through his time there. I think I've read that the pizzas at Spago were the whole reason for their idea to do CPK in the first place.

                Who knows if LaDou or someone ate a similar or identical pie elsewhere before they hit it big.

            2. I am not a CPK fan. I find their pizzas to be too thick and not to my taste. That said, their entree salads are surprisingly good, and I'm not usually satisfied with a salad as a meal, even for lunch. Others have mentioned the grilled vegie salad, and their chopped salad and the Thai chicken salad are also quite good.

              1. They have good salads - I like the chopped salad, the Thai crunch salad, and the mediterranean salad. The adobo chicken soup is pretty good, and the italian tomato and basil pizza is pretty good, too. I have a couple of friends who just rave about the Thai pizza, but I thought it was kind of a mishmash of flavors.

                1. I ate at one once, never again. Sweetest pizza I've ever eaten. Like they used HFCS for sauce. Yuck. I don't think I made it though the first piece.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: chileheadmike

                    I tried the chicken bbq pizza and it was really sweet too chileheadmike. Any pizza at CPK that isn't sweet? I do want to try the place again sometime. I like to share and CPK seems very conducive to that. My friend and I shared a cup of soup, a pizza and a brownie sundae for lunch and he got a lemonade and I got a glass of berry sangria. First time I've been hungry enough for dessert out in quite awhile.

                    1. re: givemecarbs

                      Non-sweet pizza @ CPK; try the margherita.

                        1. re: Suzy Q

                          Thanks to Suzy and OCAnn, I'll give them both a try eventually. The atmosphere is nice at CPK and in snowy cold Pa, I need a bit of California now and then.

                    2. I go for lunch often and get a cup of the chicken adobe chowder and a half original chopped salad or Thai crunch salad. The carne asada pizza is good too.

                      1. Really good thin-crust pizza is hard to find in north OC, CA. One of my favourite is indeed Ed LaDou's Caioti Pizza in Studio City. But that's a bit of a drive from OC...even north OC. So my go-to for thin crust pizza is Buca di Beppo; they do a very good margherita pizza. On a rare occasion (for a change of scenery/taste), I'll go to CPK. They do a decent margherita pizza as well (but Buca's is better). Although I don't care for major chains, if you stay simple with CPK, you'll be fine. If anything, they do average very well.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: OCAnn

                          I went in a CPK tonight for the first time in prob 3 years and had their new Morroccan chicken salad. It had avocadoes, butternut squash, beets, cranberries, chicken and peanuts. For someone who's not a huge CPK fan, I thought it was a great salad with a great champagne creamy dressing. Their salads are pricey, but it was good..

                        2. I have actually never eaten the pizza at CPK, so I can't say how it is. I really enjoy their tuscan hummus, the split pea and barley soup, the grilled mahi-mahi (blackened) and a couple others that escape me at the moment.

                          1. Go with the grilled vegetable salad...it is my favorite!!!

                            1. I find their pizza crust and flat bread to be strangely, disgustingly sweet.