California Pizza Kitchen
Laurel Park Mall, Livonia, MI; LAX; and many other places
Review by Rosie
As a foodie, I am well aware of the trend toward fancifying the classic college dorm staple comfort foods. Even the original Domestic Goddess, Martha Stewart, recently dedicated a segment of her show to gourmet pizza with the help of some celebrity chef promoting his own establishment and specialty potato pizza. But I digress ...
This "CPK," located in what our conference presenter described as an upscale mall, offered a very pleasant setting with good ambiance, with gentle lighting and soothing décor (probably standardized throughout the chain). My only complaint is that the music was a little too loud to be conducive to easy conversation.
The menu offerings were varied and sounded fantastic. You can check them out on the CPK website. If we had had more time, my fellow conference attendee and I might have been tempted to try the appetizers, salads, and desserts, but we did have to get back for that pesky afternoon session ... So opting for quick, we each had the tortilla soup -- alas, nothing to write home about. Don't have the tortilla soup! My lunchmate had a sweet and spicy Italian sausage pizza topped with thin slices of yellow bell pepper, mild onions and mozzarella cheese. I figured I would try something a little more exotic: why not peking duck? A lovely smelling pizza came out piled with roasted duck breast, Mozzarella cheese, soy-glazed Shiitake mushrooms, crispy wontons, slivered green onions and a ginger Hoisin sauce. YUM!
(Actually, the peking duck pizza is a variation of the classic "Barbecue Chicken Pizza" that put CPK on the metaphoric culinary map. I first had that pizza at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). CPK is located right by the security gate, and I was on a no-frills flight that served no food en route. I remember being advised to buy something before going on board. It was a bit awkward to juggle the pizza box horizontally, but it was SO worth it! The smell tempted me for the whole cross-country flight until I couldn't stand it anymore, and it was good cold. It's even better with peking duck seated in the restaurant!)
Each pizza is 10-inches across and generously topped. Cut into six slices, it would be easy for a group to order several different pizzas and switch and swap to be able to taste them all. There were only two of us, and we would have spent the afternoon sitting and noshing, but it was getting late and we had to get back to that pesky conference. Instead, we elected to have the pizza we couldn't finish boxed up to take home, which the staff did cheerfully for us.
The prices for the pizzas ranged from $10 to $15, which seems a bit steep, but they are gourmet pizzas after all and they were good. (Just don't bother with the tortilla soup!) CPK is definitely a different and delicious take on pizza, and I intend to go back often.
Photos property of www.californiapizzakitchen.com
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