Last month I was invited to California Pizza Kitchen to try out some of their new menu items – items that ARE NOT PIZZA. Say whaaaaat. I knew California Pizza Kitchen had some tasty non-pizza items (like the Thai Chicken Salad which I love) but I had no idea they also had pastas and even ribeye steaks! I was happy to try out the non-pizza items to see how the items fared.
Jake, T, and I went to the Fashion Valley location for lunch. It’s a nice easy-to-get-to spot that’s next to the movie theater in Fashion Valley.
We sat at a nice booth with lots of natural light. Woohoo!
Here’s a peek at the menu at California Pizza Kitchen. Just click the menus to make them larger:
[mango lemonade, peach iced tea, strawberry iced tea / $3.39 each]
Normally we just drink water because a) water is free and b) it’s good for you but we all got drinks this time. T got the mango lemonade, Jake got the peach iced tea and I got the strawberry iced tea. Luckily, everyone liked their chosen drink the best.
Our very friendly and personable waiter brought us out some yummy complimentary bread + olive oil as a starter. The bread was fresh and warm with an excellent crusty exterior. The olive oil had some salt and spices in it which made it taste wonderful with the warm bread.
[sesame ginger chicken dumplings / $8.79]
We started off with an appetizer that caught my eye – the sesame ginger chicken dumplings. These Chinese dumplings are topped with sesame seeds and scallions and served with a soy-ginger chili sauce.
The chicken filling was tender and juicy with a nice mixture of Chinese spices. The dumplings were made with wonton wrappers and were steamed giving them a nice chewy texture. I loved the addition of the green onions for an extra bit of flavor. The soy-ginger chili sauce had an orange taste in the background and was sweet with a slight tang. The sauce tasted wonderful with the dumplings.
[chicken milanese / $16.99]
Jake and T wanted to order the Chicken Milanese. It is a panko-crusted chicken breast topped with wild arugula and housemade checca (uncooked tomato sauce), finished with extra virgin olive oil and shaved parmesan. Doesn’t it look like we just ordered a salad from this first photo?
The chicken was hiding underneath all of the toppings! Hello you golden little panko crusted chicken breast.
This dish was T’s favorite of the bunch that we had and Jake really enjoyed it at well but I guess I got the short end of the stick since the piece that I had was pretty dried out. There were three pieces of chicken hiding underneath all of that argula. I perked it up a little with a squeeze from the cheesecloth covered lemon that helped to spice it up for me, but overall I still had a dry piece of chicken. I did enjoy the super crunchy crust and I loved the tomatoes on top – they were fresh and bright and had a ton of flavor. Jake and T insisted their pieces were moist and terrific – I guess I’ll just have to believe them. Heh.
[fire-grilled ribeye / $26.99]
This is one of the “California Pizza Kitchen has THAT?!” surprising items on the menu – a ribeye steak! It is a 12oz USDA choice ribeye grilled with housemade Pinot Noir sea salt and topped with creamy bleu cheese butter. It is served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic wild arugula salad.
We ordered the ribeye medium rare but we got a medium steak instead so the steak wasn’t quite as juicy as I would have liked it to be. There were lots of nice charred spots, but overall it was a little bit too chewy and overcooked for our liking. Blue cheese was tasty though and gave it a bit of extra tangy flavor. The boys hoarded it!
[kung pao spaghetti with chicken / $11.59 + $3.00]
I spied this on the menu and was like “SAY WHAT?” Kung Pao Spaghetti?! I knew I had to order it because it sounded so different. The Kung Pao Spaghetti comes with garlic, scallions, peanuts, and hot red chilies. You can add chicken, shrimp or a combination of the two for an extra few bucks.
This was my hands down favorite dish that day. I loved the combination of flavor and spices from the garlic, the scallions, the chilies (which were thankfully not too spicy at all). It was super flavorful and not super saucy. It’s different since there’s not tomato sauce – just a saucy mixture from the garlic and spices. I think what threw this dish over the top for me was the crunch of the peanuts with the bright scallions. I loved that! I would definitely come back to California Pizza Kitchen just to have this dish again – I liked it that much!
The three of us ate our food family style – this is what our plates looked like with our food all divvied up between the three of us.
Dessert Menu. I had to. Sweet tooth obliges me to do it.
Our waiter recommended the salted caramel pudding to us and I couldn’t resist ordering it after he described it to us.
[salted caramel pudding / $5.59]
Also can I just say that I love desserts served in tiny jars?! I swear it makes the dessert taste better. I loved the smooth silky texture of the caramel pudding, There was a nice salty note throughout the pudding.
On the very bottom of the jar (which you still can’t really see in this photo) there was a crunchy cookie bottom. I loved the extra texture in here – crunchy with the smooth creamy pudding.
[butter cake with haagen-dazs ice cream / $7.29 + $1.75]
Jake and I were both thinking about the first time we had Butter Cake over at the Lazy Dog restaurant so we also decided we had to try the butter cake here – all in the name of science!
The butter cake had a soft, buttery, rich flavor. The cake crumb was tender and light but it wasn’t gooey or moist in the middle. It was served on the warm side and tasted great with the cold ice cream. Jake and I still like the butter cake at the Lazy Dog better though because it has a crunchy exterior and a soft, gooey middle. The butter cake here just tastes like normal cake – if that makes any sense!
All in all I did like a few of the newer non-pizza dishes here – that Kung Pao Spaghetti sure knocked my socks off! It’s nice to know that California Pizza Kitchen has options for everyone, even if you’re not in the mood for pizza!
California Pizza Kitchen
7007 Friars Road, Suite 901
San Diego, CA 92108
Disclaimer: I was given a $75 gift card to cover part of our meal at California Pizza Kitchen. I was not further compensated and all opinions here are my own.