We know we’re not the only California Pizza Kitchen fans based on the wait at the Stanford Shopping Center restaurant. It’s family friendly and has something for everyone, but we tend to stick to our favorites (avocado rolls, flatbread, and a cheese pizza for my less adventurous son). This is why we jumped at the chance to try out some of the new menu items at CPK’s brand new location in Santa Clara as guests of the restaurant. If my cheese pizza kid excitedly tried some new things, including cauliflower, these dishes deserve awards.
First up, don’t confuse the new location with the nearby one at Valley Fair Mall. The new spot on Monroe Street is not at a mall, but in a new development that’s reminiscent of Santana Row, with a mix of upscale apartments and retail. Parking is plentiful and the restaurant is large and airy. The staff is incredibly friendly from start to finish, even opening the door for us as we left.
But we’re really here for the food, right? What we ordered:
Cucumber Refresher. This was the perfect drink for a Sunday lunch following a long Saturday night. It’s nonalcoholic and was truly refreshing. It was like a spa visit in a glass.
Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower. We ate this too fast for a photo. It is GOOD! Not only would I order it again, I’d go back for it. Never fear, it’s not too spicy. The general manager told us that people ask to buy the sauce to try to make it at home. Sad news DIY people: they don’t sell the sauce because it is made in house and they only mix up the amount they need for the day. I wouldn’t have thought to ask for sauce to go, but I will admit that I bought some cauliflower to try to recreate this at home. It’s not the same.
Bianco Flatbread. Again, no picture, because the four slices were grabbed by everyone at the table in a blink. The gorgonzola and white truffle oil are used modestly, which adds depth to the flavor, but isn’t overpowering. I know this because the cheese pizza kid – who hates strong cheeses – loved this dish.
Avocado Club Egg Rolls. We order this every single time we go to CPK. One of my kids can make a meal out of this dish alone.
Lemongrass Chicken. This was full of flavor with a nice lemongrass ginger glaze, sitting atop bok choy, farro and mushrooms. It was flavorful, but light, making it feel like a healthy lunch. (P.S. this was great the next day, too, as leftovers for lunch.),
Carne Asada Pizza. This was ordered for the carne asada lovers in the family, yet everyone really liked it, even those who aren’t big on red meat. The steak is joined by roasted poblanos, cilantro pesto, yellow onions, and cheese, with a housemade salsa verde on the side. The salsa was really good alone, too, and definitely added something to the pizza.
Kid’s Cheese Pizza. No picture because we all know what they look like. My son’s go-to dish.
Butter Cake. CPK’s warm butter cake with vanilla ice cream is a home run. Always.
Strawberry Shortcake. It’s new, light, and summery. There is a light lemon zest to the shortcake that adds another dose of summer to the dish. It was really good, but if I had to pick one dessert, I’d stay loyal to the butter cake.