Name: California Pizza Kitchen
Location: First Floor, High Street Phoenix
Contact: 022 – 65558888
Date of Visit: 6th September, 2011 [Lunch hour]
What do you think when you think Pizza? No, seriously, give it a minute and imagine it. Can you taste the cheese, the tomato sauce, the basil and the oregano on top? Don’t you love that stringy cheese? Well, my pizza at California Pizza Kitchen was not that sort of pizza, so throw that montage out of the window. It is a Pizza kitchen, so let us talk about the pizza they serve, first. Don’t get me wrong the pizza was alright, but it is probably not the Pizza you just imagined. The bread was just out of the oven, it smelled and tasted fresh and good. The tomato sauce was bright, yet subtle so as to not over power the other flavours on the pizza; so was the cheese, not to strong to overpower the other flavours. The flavours on this Pizza were married very well and not one of them dominated the others. Except the herbs, the fresh beautiful herbs, you could smell those fresh herbs, it was beautiful and it is what will win your heart in this place. To prevent myself from being seduced by cheese or pepperoni, I ordered a subtle ‘New’ vegetarian pizza. The New! (as mentioned on the menu card), Eggplant Pizza.
You might say, Eggplant, really? I know what you mean, it is not really the topmost item on my list of favourites, yet, I do believe that some chefs can magically transform an ingredient into something amazing. Have you tried the eggplant in a well made ratatouille? You will never make that funny face when you hear ‘eggplant’ again. Anyway, before I get totally carried away about the awesomeness of ratatouille, not the movie, although that wasn’t half bad as well! Let us talk about the eggplant pizza. Well, I don’t think the chef had a magic wand back there because the eggplant did not taste like something out of this world, it tasted, mundane. I would be okay with the eggplant if it wasn’t the main ingredient on my Pizza and all I could taste was eggplant, eggplant and eggplant everywhere.
The freshness of the ingredients, the smell of the herbs, the olive oil, the bread, that is what you tend to appreciate in the California Pizza Kitchen Pizza. That is good, because it is what makes this Pizza special and different from other Pizzas. Look at this as a Dining place rather than a Pizza place and you will love it. We are Indians, as a community we tend to often appreciate stronger flavours. This place brings out a different face of the pizza from the one we often grab on weekends over a movie and chilled beer. The cheese is right there, but it doesn’t take away from the other ingredients. The funny part is, when you think California Pizza, you think American Pizza, often overloaded with cheese but this Pizza is more like the Pizza I ate in Italy, simple, subtle, fresh and delicious. So, eat with a wide mind and open mouth, oh sorry, that was the other way. Try it out with a wide mouth and an open mind and I am sure that you will love it.
The other dish on the table was Spaghetti with spinach and tomato. It did not look very saucy, but bright and again, fresh. My friend and former colleague from a food channel, Suman who I was catching up with over lunch had ordered this dish. Suman aka Superman was off food for many months. She had doubts about being able to finish that spaghetti. To tell you the truth, I was looking forward to finishing her spaghetti myself. I thought she will be done in a couple of morsels. She ate the entire dish, she ate it all, did not leave out a single morsel. I smiled and said, ‘I bet that spaghetti was really good’. ‘Yes’, she said, ‘I am going to click a picture to show my friends I finished it!’ Fortunately, my Pizza was pretty big, so I was full.
Let me be honest with you, I was so full that I did not even look at the dessert. For dessert, if you look, you eat. Then again, the list of desserts had a variety of choices and looked, well, enticing! I won’t comment on them because I did not eat them. It is no surprise, that Suman, although is a sweet tooth, was too full to have dessert as well. It was a pleasant afternoon, with good food and great conversation, which involved a little bickering about old colleagues, indeed, no girly afternoon, is complete without that. So, all in all,
Good Food + Good Value For Money + Good Ambience + Good Service = California Pizza Kitchen
Rating = 7.5 on Ten