I’ve been living California for four months now, and I can’t believe I haven’t dined at a California Pizza Kitchen yet. Well, I finally had a chance to try a California pizza this week when Monica Durzo invited me to the CPK at 2957 Michelson Drive in Irvine to try a real California pizza.
California Pizza Kitchen opened their first restaurant in Beverly Hills in 1985. Former federal prosecutors Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax combined their passion for food with fresh high-quality ingredients to create innovative, hearth-baked pizzas such as The Original BBQ Chicken, cooked in an open kitchen. The restaurant was supposed to give California a place in the pizza pantheon alongside Chicago and New York. However, if you ask most people what goes into a California pizza, I bet they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Despite this, CPK expanded into more than 250 locations in over 30 states and 11 countries. You’ll also find CPK in the pizza aisle of your grocer’s freezer, major airports, sports stadiums and college campuses.
CPK went public in 2000, but was taken private again on July 7, 2011, when Golden Gate Capital bought the chain for $470 million.
California Pizza Kitchen has nearly thirty different pizzas on their menu. How many of those pizzas could be considered “Californian” I’m not sure. However, I feel that only a pizza shop from California can come up with a Pear and Gorgonzola, or a Tricolore Salad Pizza. If you’re feeling a bit international, CPK can take you around the world with their Greek, Jamaican Jerk, Tostada, Thai, or Japanese Eggplant pizza.
We went with the relatively safe Hawaiian and Sicilian thin crust pizza. They were good enough that I plan to go back to CPK to try the more Californian pizzas. Maybe I should do a Dot Com Pho – California Pizza Edition.