California Pizza Kitchen – Park Avenue South at 30th Street, Manhattan, New York City

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California Pizza Kitchen has surprised me. The chain has unveiled a new look and expanded menu that goes well beyond pizza. The best part – you don’t need to travel to California to check it out. Head to CPK in Midtown to eat your way through the reimagined menu and check out the new rustic interior.

I was invited in to CPK a few weeks ago and had an incredible time. The new menu still has the traditional pizzas you know and love (can you say BBQ chicken?), but new menu options are available in every category. We’re talking everything from Maine Lobster Flatbread to Fire-Grilled Ribeye to Hearth-Roasted Halibut all showcasing seasonally inspired ingredients.

These new entrees certainly don’t shy away from flavor. The halibut was incredibly flavorful and sat on a bed of grilled asparagus, butternut squash and baby kale. The roasted garlic chicken consisted of crispy-skin chicken breasts in a lemon garlic sauce with roasted fingerling potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and herbs. I’m even going to go as far to say this chicken dish was some of the best chicken I’ve ever had… ever.

Wait a minute, is this really California Pizza Kitchen?

The drink menu has been reinvented as well. Creative new beverages include hand-crafted cocktails made from fresh fruits, juices, purees, and herbs. A must-try is the California Roots, a drink made of vodka, avocado, mint and agave. Apparently, you can put avocado in a drink. 

Hopefully I’ve now convinced you that the food is good, really good. Well, the interior mirrors the reimagined menu. Walking into California Pizza Kitchen, I didn’t feel like I was at another chain restaurant. I felt like this place belonged in NYC. There are new oak floors, tabletops and chairs made from reclaimed wood and stone countertops. Fabrics used for seating are from recycled materials and the restaurant features a natural herb garden. Artwork on the walls features local New York landmarks for a neighborhood feel. Additionally, the open floorplan has an open kitchen where guests can watch as food is prepared from scratch and artisan pizzas are hand-tossed and cooked in the open-hearth oven.

If this is what chain restaurants are turning into, sign me up. California Pizza Kitchen in Midtown has certainly exceeded the “pizza” in its name to become a neighborhood space to relax with some good drinks and even better food. Check them out!

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California Pizza Kitchen