Thursday, August 18, 2011

California Pizza Kitchen - MacArthur Center - Norfolk, VA

Alex and I had not been to California Pizza Kitchen (herein after referred to as CPK) for quite some time. We both had favorite entrees which had been eliminated with a menu update earlier in the year. I hate when this happens. CPK has a fairly extensive menu, but with our favorites gone, we didn't see much reason to return. Additionally, CPK is a bit on the pricey side and these days most of us our watching our budgets a little closer. If I am going to spend a bit for "gourmet style" pizza, I'd rather be at Fellini's. Although, I have to admit that CPK's White Pizza is wowza good. 

I can't remember the source, but somehow I was recently made aware of yet another CPK menu update. Interestingly enough, some of the old favorites were making a comeback under the guise of new names. We decided to check it out and bring our buddy *Brianna along. Brianna loves the fish tacos there, but noticed a new item, Tacos Carnitas; slow-roasted pork, homemade avocado salsa verde, red onions, cilantro, Romaine and shredded Napa cabbage served with tortilla chips and roasted tomato salsa. Sounded pretty good to everyone and she decided to give it a try. Alex of course, honed right in on the Crispy Mac 'n Cheese.  CPK' version is "classic mac ‘n’ cheese lightly fried with panko, served on creamy cheese sauce". Seeing the picture on their website, it does not appeal to me at all. It looks like a Mac 'n Cheese burger. Click here to see what I mean. Surprisingly, Alex passed on the starter and we both ordered the Roasted Vegetable Salad; Roasted artichoke hearts, asparagus, eggplant, red & yellow peppers, corn and sun-dried tomatoes served warm over Romaine tossed with homemade Dijon balsamic vinaigrette. Topped with avocado. This is suspiciously similar to our old favorite "Grilled Vegetable Salad" and we were glad to see it back.
California Pizza Kitchen dish: Tacos Carnitas

California Pizza Kitchen dish: Roasted Vegetable Salad
The meals took a while to arrive. This happens sometimes at CPK. They were packed on Tuesday, so the wait did not surprise me. The tacos arrived loaded with the salsa verde and Brianna instantly regretted her order. In retrospect she wished she had asked if they were spicy. They were a bit hot, but the bigger disappointment was the meager chunks of pork in the taco. Resting on the bottom layer were tiny, 1/2 inch, flat pieces of overcooked pork. Bleh! Should have stuck with the Fish Tacos!! Our salads looked good and the server even got the salad dressings right, which only happens about 50% of the time at this location. I always order Fat Free Balsamic on the side. Sometimes I get nothing, sometimes I get it on the salad, sometimes I get regular Balsamic and etcetera. This was a good start! After four or five bites into the salad I realize the eggplant is MIA. Ditto for Alex. We request some and it is brought out to the table within a reasonable amount of time. Next, the avocados. I want you to look at the photo of this salad here. Do you see all that avocado! Man, it is a mountain! Now, look at the photos below. We were both able to locate 2 measly little chunks. Sad. I know it is difficult to get ripe avocados, and they are expensive and blah, blah, blah. I have already heard all that. If you can't deliver the product, don't advertise it. Simple as that folks! We didn't even bother complaining about it. How many times can you complain about a salad to your server?

California Pizza Kitchen dish: Vegetable Salad
California Pizza Kitchen dish: Vegetable Salad with not a lot of Avocado

And by the way, our server did a good job. She kept our drinks full and had a pleasant demeanor. I learned long ago not to fault the server for the sins of the kitchen. I am pretty sure we each tipped her at least 20%, which is our usual  M.O. even for poor service. It's a tough job.  I know from experience. Plus, I am always thinking, that could be my kid, or my nephew or my friend. A salad at CPK, with no extras will run you about $15. This doesn't really bother me because their salads are hearty. They aren't just serving up romaine with cucumber and tomato. The Tacos are in a similar price range.

As usual the company was outstanding, and we had a fun meal. I'm sure there are more CPK lunches in my future. One thing I really like about CPK is that they post their nutritional information online. I wish more restaurants, at least chains, did that. Ut oh...the White Pizza has 1080 calories and 119 g of carbs. I plug that into my handy dandy Weight Watchers calculator and see that racks up to 22 points plus. Maybe next time I order the White Pizza I will only eat half...


California Pizza Kitchen

300 Monticello Ave # 149
Norfolk, VA 23510-4400
(757) 622-7190
Open Mon-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11am-shredded Napa cabbage served with tortilla chips and roasted tomato salsa

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