I Want My CPK

California Pizza Kitchen revives an era of great cuisine

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 9:08 pm

(Pasadena Now is highlighting some of the many restaurants participating in Pasadena’s Fourth Annual Restaurant Week next week. Here, Adam Bray-Ali visits California Pizza Kitchen.)

Like a classic evening of ‘80s flashbacks, the recently updated California Pizza Kitchen at the corner of Los Robles and Union in the Dos Fuentes Plaza, provides a smooth memory trip to the era when fresh California produce and fusion cuisine made its big splash on our consciousness and brought awesome flavors and a taste of classic Italy.

In 2011 a new owner bought the company and with investments and new attitude brought back this core of California fresh tastes and great ingredients. With Pasadena’s restaurant week kicking off this Sunday, Pasadena Now visited our local CPK to sample the upcoming set menu and some special menu offerings loaded with spring flavors and tastes.

For lunch, CPK is offering a Two Course Lunch Menu at $12 with a choice of a wedge salad, cup of tortilla or smashed pea soup, or guacamole and chips with white corn and fresh jicama as your starter. For the entrée course, you can choose their classic original BBQ chicken pizza or several pasta dishes or half orders of salad. A standout salad on their menu is the Quinoa + Arugula salad with fresh baby asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, Feta cheese and toasted pine nuts with Champagne vinaigrette.

For the dinner offerings, a Three Course Dinner menu at $26 includes a choice of some tempting appetizers including fresh hummus, chicken dumplings or spinach artichoke dip. Entrée options include salads, several pizzas and pasta selections including their sautéed asparagus spaghetti. Dessert options included in the prix fixe menu are numerous but all parties involved pointed us to the Butter cake with a la mode topping.

General manager Alex Montes, a 20 year CPK veteran who heads the Pasadena restaurant, shared some recent updates to the restaurant, including a sunny patio with a stellar Western view to the Pasadena City Hall. In the evening, outdoor heaters and a small fireplace keep the patio warm and comfortable. Most exciting to him and our servers Nicole and Delyte are the newly updated menus with their classics along with special choices and menu offerings for all tastes. We sampled their upcoming spring menu offerings of a California Field salad and Strawberry Shortcake. The seasonal menu starts April 29th and should be available for 2-3 months, according to Montes.

Our meal kicked off with fresh bread and flavored olive oil along with a strawberry mango spritzer with fresh berries. As a shared appetizer we ordered the Quinoa Arugula salad recommended by our server Nicole, an attendee of Le Cordon Bleu. Next up was the Field Salad. and we spent our time enjoying the combination of slightly bitter lettuce with the smooth tastes of feta, vinaigrette and surprisingly sweet and cool taste of watermelon and berries and the occasional crunch of roasted pistachios.

For entrées we decided to try the classic BBQ chicken pizza. With a hand-rolled crust, a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce and the optional Applewood smoked bacon from Neuske’s in Wisconsin. My dining companion lifted two thumbs up at his first taste of the California classic and we learned that the kitchen recently changed their method of handling dough to a more time-consuming hand rolling method while redisovering that the high temperature oven they use turns their great dough into delicious pizzas.

California Pizza Kitchen is at 99 Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101 at the corner of Union and Los Robles. Validated parking for 90 minutes is available in the underground parking. Delivery, takeout and restricted diet menus are available. Patio dining and large dining room with full bar. For Pasadena’s Restaurant Week they are offering a lunch special at $12 and 3 course dinner menu at $26.

Reservations accepted at 626-585-9020. www.cpk.com






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