American - FOOD - "The Delicious"

Beyond pizza at California Pizza Kitchen in NYC

November 2, 2015

I know what you’re thinking. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I could tell you something new about a chain restaurant like California Pizza Kitchen either. I don’t write about a lot of chains mostly because NYC has so much variety. That’s not a knock on chains, but I personally feel like you come to NYC to try all those quaint, unique places that make the city so exciting to experience. But when I was invited to check out CPK’s new menu, and it really did exceed my expectations, mostly because this time I tried dishes beyond just their pizza.

California Pizza Kitchen in Gramercy, NYC

California Pizza Kitchen in Gramercy, NYC

Strawberry cooler

Strawberry cooler

A good way to start: Guac, and lobster flatbread

Starter bread and guac

Starter bread and guac


Guacamole

Guacamole


Lobster flatbread

Lobster flatbread

With our main plates, we tried a variety of dishes. We had to get one order of their classic Thai Chicken pizzas, but we also dipped into their kung pao shrimp pasta, refreshing watermelon salad, and must-try new items: Roasted halibut, garlic chicken, and fire-grilled ribeye. Everything had so much flavor and cooked perfectly.

Kung Pao shrimp

Kung Pao shrimp


Fish tacos

Fish tacos


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Watermelon feta salad -- so refreshing

Watermelon feta salad — so refreshing


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I normally don’t go straight for fish, but this wild-caught Alaskan halibut roasted on a cedar plank with butternut squash farro, baby kale, and grilled asparagus was too good to pass up:

Hearth-Roasted Halibut on asparagus, butternut squash farro, and baby kale

Hearth-Roasted Halibut on asparagus, butternut squash farro, and baby kale

My friends who tried the chicken and steak couldn’t get over how much flavor they both had. The chicken was cooked perfectly with a lemon-garlic sauce, and served with fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. The chicken was juicy and tender and served with seasonal vegetables.

Roasted garlic chicken

Roasted garlic chicken


I was a little nervous for the fire-grilled ribeye – I wasn’t sure how much even the reimagined menu at CPK would deliver. Surprisingly, my friends loved it. They topped the steak with bleu cheese butter that complemented the steak well without taking over. It’s served with roasted fingerling potatoes in a rich pesto sauce, and a lemon-garlic arugala salad.
Fire-grilled ribeye

Fire-grilled ribeye

Finally, when it came to dessert, we immediately ordered the chocolate shuffle cake but our waiter insisted we also tried the butter cake. Twist our arm. I had no idea their classic butter cake was THIS good, especially looking so unassuming. Soft, creamy, and sweet, it might be all you need. But a spoon of the chocolate souffle didn’t hurt either.

Butter cake -- must try

Butter cake — must try

Belgian chocolate souffle cake

Belgian chocolate souffle cake

Overall CPK’s reimagined menu shows promise — enough that I’ve been craving to go back since this visit. The one we visited on Park Avenue South is also perfect for big groups with so many seating areas. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Pizza tossing

Pizza tossing


CPK on Park Ave South in NYC

CPK on Park Ave South in NYC


Restaurant Info:
California Pizza Kitchen

440, 386 Park Avenue South,
New York, NY 10016
(212) 685-6700
Murray Hill
REPORT CARD
Meal: Dinner
Occasion: Catching up with friends
Price: $$
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ***
Food: ***
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes!



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Shy
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