Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Food News: CPK Celebrates Sixteen Years with Tenth Branch at Eastwood

Sixteen years since the opening of the very first California Pizza Kitchen branch in the country, CPK continues to be the "pizza authority" in the premium pizza segment with its innovative pizzas inspired by global flavors and premium ingredients. California Pizza Kitchen was the very first foreign franchise managed by Global Restaurants Concepts back in 1997, and GRC's current portfolio now includes IHOP, PF Chang's, Morelli's Gelato, Gyu-Kaku and Mad for Garlic. Sixteen years later, CPK opens its tenth branch at Eastwood, with an eleventh branch in the works.

Unique, premium pizzas made with the finest ingredients established CPK as different and distinct from the rest, and sixteen years later, CPK remains true to its brand DNA with its signature gourmet pizzas. This commitment to quality often results in the frequent air freighting of premium products and ingredients just to maintain  CPK's standards and brand DNA, bringing some of the best pizza creations and flavor combinations. 

CPK's newest location at the Eastwood Mall may be smaller than its other locations, but the interiors remain cozy and inviting. Plus, additional seating is available al fresco. Casual yet elegant, modern with a cool, friendly vibe. Just the place for a pizza with friends.

The warm interiors maintain the familiar look of CPK's outlets, and its small but busy partially open kitchen provides a cool side show allowing diners to take a peek at CPK's freshly made pizzas. Each order  is made from scratch with premium ingredients.

The team at CPK's newest branch, all set and ready, with the signature premium ingredients all prepped up. And the oven is all fired up for the newest branch's first orders...and what better way to celebrate CPK's 16th anniversary and tenth branch than with some new and unique pizza creations...

CPK's signature beverages were then served, including the Arnold Palmer, a refreshing blend of iced tea and lemonade.

For starters, we were served CPK's Combo Salad, with Caesar, Thai Crunch and Waldorf Chicken, each with distinct flavors, with freshness and rich flavors as the consistent component in all three dishes. The Thai Crunch Salad is a refreshing blend of shredded Napa cabbage with chilled grilled chicken breast, cucumbers, edamame, crispy wontons, peanuts, cilantro, red cabbage and green onions tossed in an Asian style lime-cilantro and peanut dressing. The Waldorf Chicken Salad comes with chilled green chicken breast with seedless grapes, apples, walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese with a sharp blue cheese dressing. The Classic Caesar brings familiar flavors enhanced by applewood smoked bacon with freshly chopped crisp lettuce, jicama, Gorogonzola and red cabbage. Then, the new signature pizzas were served...

The Caprese, with basil cashew pesto, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and Grana Padano Parmesan, served with extra virgin olive oil. Rustic and traditional, the Caprese looks deceptively simple, but one bite releases a burst of flavors that's rich and flavorful. Again, premium ingredients can transform any dish, no matter how simple, and this is evident in CPK's creative pizzas.

In between, we were served Portobello Mushroom Ravioli, a rosemary ravioli stuffed with portobello mushrooms, herbs and cheese, topped with garlic Parmesan cream sauce. A consistent favorite, and still as flavorful as the first time I tried it many years ago.

The Wild Mushroom, topped with shiitake, abalone and white mushrooms, garlic olive oil, slivered scallions, mozarella, Romano and Parmesan, and served with mushroom olive oil. Another rustic pizza with simple yet bold flavors. Can't go wrong with mushrooms and pizza, and this new pizza simply elevates the usual mushroom pizza to a much higher level. And California Pizza Kitchen's unique brand DNA is evident, from the premium ingredients to the creative combination of flavors.

The Hawaiian, topped with pineapple, Canadian bacon, slivered scallions, mozzarella and tomato sauce. I'm not usually a fan of pineapples with pizza, but the lightly grilled pineapples does add a unique smoky sweetness that combine well with the bold flavors of the premium Canadian bacon.

For dessert, CPK's signature Sundaes were served, rich vanilla ice cream with CPK's triple thick hot fudge, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. A sweet and indulgent ending to the pizza lunch at CPK.

And here's more good news. The opening of CPK's tenth branch is just in time for CPK's annual National Pizza Day on August 15, 2013, where you get a free pizza with every pizza order.  Here's to sixteen more years, more branches, and even more unique pizza creations from CPK. Special thanks to Global Restaurants Concepts' (L-R) Manuel Zubiri, Vice Chairman; Luisa del Rosario, CPK Senior Operations Director; Archie Rodriguez, President and CEO, and Griffith Go, Chief Financial Officer, for an awesome lunch.

The newest CPK branch is located at the Ground Floor, Eastwood Mall, Eastwood City Cyberpark, E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Bagumbayan, Quezon City.

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