I attended a tasting of California Pizza Kitchen’s new menu items on behalf of Tampa Bay Bloggers. California Pizza Kitchen gave me a complimentary meal in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
I have to preface this review by saying that I am not a big fan of chain restaurants. One of the reasons why is that there seems to be a lack of healthier options. And if there is something on the healthier side it is typically an uninspired chicken, rice and vegetable dish. California Pizza Kitchen has recognized this and in turn they are turning over a new leaf this Fall. They have added new dishes to their menu that are not only healthy, but also seasonally inspired. No bland food here! California Pizza Kitchen in Tampa invited myself and other bloggers to a tasting so we could check out the NEW California Pizza Kitchen. Unfortunately, I had some kind of weird stomach bug the day of the tasting so I had to back out. But luckily I was able to come back a few days later and still enjoy a tasting! First things first…drinks! I love me a good cocktail. I was able to try the new Blood Orange Sangria, the Blueberry Ginger Smash and a third that unfortunately I forget the name of. It was my least favorite though, so that may be why! My favorite was the sangria. It was light, sweet and refreshing. Now to the food glorious food… Harvest Kale Salad I loved seeing this salad. I usually don’t order salads out because they’re borrr-ing. Not this one! With my favorite green as the star, faro, roasted butternut squash, pear, cranberries, pecans, goat cheese and citrus vinaigrette this salad was packed full of flavor. Roasted Garlic Chicken Crispy-skin chicken breast in lemon-garlic sauce with hearth-roasted fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and Mediterranean herbs. Overall this was a great dish. The chicken was a bit too salty for my taste and I wish there were more Brussels sprouts because I love them so! Hearth Roasted Halibut Wild caught halibut from the Aleutian Islands, roasted on a cedar plank with butternut squash faro, baby kale and grilled asparagus. This was my favorite main dish. Halibut is meatier fish, so paired with the butternut squash faro this was a nice, hearty dish. It was light, tasty and satisfying. I also loved how California Pizza Kitchen has incorporated faro into some of their new dishes. It’s not a grain you see on a lot of menus and it’s not to have something outside of the norm. Fire-Grilled Ribeye 12oz USDA choice ribeye grilled with housemade Pinot Noir sea salt and topped with creamy bleu cheese butter. Served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon arugula salad. Mmm, mama loves a good steak. I’m totally a meat and potatoes kinda gal so I was into this dish as well. The steak was cooked perfectly and had great flavor. The butter on top was tasty, but I could have lived without it. Pumpkin Cheesecake Self explanatory! One of my favorite desserts is cheesecake and I love pumpkin everything so this dessert was perfection to me. The menu isn’t the only thing that has gotten a face lift at California Pizza Kitchen. Check out their new digs! The new décor definitely gives California Pizza Kitchen a less “chain” look and more of an authentic vibe. The Tampa location is one of a small handful of restaurants that is trying out California Pizza Kitchen’s new concept. From what I saw and tasted I hope it moves to all of the other locations! Do you dine at California Pizza Kitchen? Have you tried the new menu items?