Thursday, May 30, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen Food Review

California Pizza Kitchen has a reputation for serving creative pizzas; but I like to keep things simple. No California Clubs or Spicy Korean BBQ for this guy. I popped into the CPK at 1201 South Hayes Street across from Pentagon City in search of pizza fulfillment... and hopefully something with sausage.

I walked in just before 3:00 PM and had no trouble getting a seat. I did however, encounter trouble ordering something simple. My server appeared "put off" by my request to build my own pizza. "You'll have to pay for every topping." Duh! I asked for a pizza with sausage; and clearly dismayed, she replied, "Just cheese and sausage?" I began to wonder if I'd broken some secret pizza law without realizing it. Thankfully my drink order didn't send her for a loop, although I did have to settle for Diet Pepsi (instead of Coke.)

My 10" pie arrived 10-15 minutes later... six pint-sized slices, almost 20% of which was doughy crust on the edge. The first thing you taste is dough. The cheese was undercooked and flavorless. Sausage crumbles were nice, but a tad light on flavor as well. Oddest of all, the pizza had very little tomato sauce, resulting in an under-seasoned pie that begged for some kind of zest.

The sprawling space is clean & tidy (several upper management types were surveying the restaurant during my visit.) Background music was nondescript, but at least 20 decibels too loud. Adding to my frustration, my server walked by an empty soda glass three times before another server noticed and brought me a refill. Almost on cue, my original server brought another glass 30 seconds later (gee thanks.)

My custom pizza set me back $11.25 + $2.50 for my drink ($14.99 before tip. Total damage? 20 bucks.) Service was mostly subpar, but she did ask if I wanted dessert or another drink before I left. Based on this experience alone, I wouldn't return. I can't imagine this is the end result that CPK was hoping for.

Atmosphere: C+ (Nice enough, but I could do without loud music.)
Service: D (Second server saved this grade from going lower.)
Crust: D+
Toppings: D+ (Sausage was OK, but no sauce and underdone cheese? Pass.)
Value: D (I don't mind paying $20... just not for this.)
Overall: D (Big disappointment. No repeat visits for this reviewer.)