|The Goat Cheese Pizza has goat cheese, Mozzarella, sautéed onion, grilled eggplant, red and yellow peppers with tomato sauce and parsley garnish.|
The Italian is one of the most beloved cuisines in the world, and it is one of the most frequented deconstructed, reinvented and customized according to tastes. So is the pizza, one of the most beloved Italian food items, which is lovingly adopted into the local gastronomic landscape, especially in the United States and then in the Philippines.
The pizza has become an important part of the cuisine of the state of California. It is what made the global restaurant chain California Pizza Kitchen or CPK famous. The restaurant, which first opened in Beverly Hills in 1985 by former federal prosecutors Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax, makes use of fresh ingredients as well as introduces many innovations in terms of flavor and ingredients. It is said that the restaurant “gave California a place in the pizza pantheon alongside Chicago and New York. Our California twist on global flavors resonated with guests, and almost immediately, CPK became a bustling spot for business and family gatherings.”
From then on, CPK opened more than 250 locations in more than 30 states and 11 countries, including the Philippines. The Philippine branch is CPK’s first restaurant outside the United States. The Filipino-owned Global Restaurant Concepts brought the brand to the Philippines in 1998, at the Glorietta 3, Ayala Center, Makati City.
Yearly, CPK introduces many pizza flavors to excite customers. Many have become hits, while the others were received coldly. The Philippine CPK contributes its own concoctions to CPK’s ever-growing library of pizza flavor recipes. About 50 original flavors were created by the Philippines, said Luisa del Rosario Lomotan, senior operations director of CPK Philippines. Pizzas now do not taste like the pizza that we know. It acquires a whole new family of flavors that entice the adventurous diners. But the most beloved of all creations is the Original BBQ Chicken, which is still being made since CPK started.
From today until Aug. 31 only, CPK will be offering five of the original flavors of the restaurant aside from the Original BBQ Chicken — the Goat Cheese Pizza, Peking Duck Pizza, Tostada Chicken Pizza, Santa Fe Chicken Pizza, and Teriyaki Chicken Pizza.
“[These pizzas] are all from CPK’s original menu in the US, about 26 years ago. When CPK first opened in the Philippines 16 years ago, they were also on the menu, with the exception of Teriyaki Chicken Pizza,” said Archie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Global Restaurant Concepts. “CPK is always looking for inspiration everywhere. We like to offer innovative and adventurous pizzas. Goat Cheese Pizza has Greek influences. It’s a vegetarian pizza with goat cheese, red and yellow capsicum and tomato sauce as base. Tostada Chicken Pizza and Santa Fe Chicken Pizza are a salute to Tex-Mex influences, a blend of American and Mexican cuisine which is pretty popular in California. Of course, from Asia we have Peking Duck Pizza and Teriyaki Chicken Pizza.”
Tasting these pizzas, one notices
how CPK hasn’t divert much from its exploratory and daring inclinations.
The Peking Duck Pizza has roasted duck, Shiitake mushrooms, Mozzarella and hoisin ginger sauce, fried wontons and slivered scallions.
“We’re going back to our California roots, going back to where we started. CPK at its very formation was about inspiring our guests with inspirational foods, with a California twist,” Rodriguez averred.
The Santa Fe Chicken Pizza is what I remembered most in their original menu. The base of the pizza sauce is generous with caramelized onions, giving the pizza a sweetish flavor. It has toppings of grilled chicken breast, Mozzarella cheese, cilantro and tomato salsa. It comes with dollops of sour cream and fresh guacamole placed in the middle. One spreads them out together with the salsa, giving the pizza a fresh taste.
Another Tex-Mex offering is the Tostada Chicken Pizza, heavy with southwestern black beans, Monterey Jack, queso quesadilla and grilled chicken breast, topped with lettuce, tomato salsa, ranch dressing, chopped scallions and tortilla strips.
On the other hand, the Goat Cheese Pizza can easily be a favorite for many with its goat cheese, Mozzarella, sautéed onion, grilled eggplant, red and yellow peppers with tomato sauce and parsley garnish, giving off a delightful symphony of flavors. The goat cheese punctuates the vegetarian aspect. They say the grilled eggplant as a pizza topping is unique to CPK.
Another favorite is the Asian-inspired Peking Duck Pizza, which has roasted duck, Shiitake mushrooms, Mozzarella and hoisin ginger sauce. It is garnished with fried wontons and slivered scallions.
Although an original, the Teriyaki Chicken Pizza is new to the Philippines. It is made up of teriyaki chicken strips, Mozzarella, queso quesadilla, red and yellow peppers, red onions, and slivered scallions with a teriyaki-ginger sauce.
These five pizza varieties disappeared from the
menu not because they were not in demand.
The Santa Fe Chicken Pizza is made of caramelized onions, grilled chicken breast, Mozzarella cheese, cilantro, tomato salsa, sour cream and guacamole.
“We believe food wasn’t meant to be timeless,” Rodriguez explained. “It should be surprising, delightful, and accessible. And with our ‘California mindset,’ we are constantly experimenting and trying new things. But in order to try new things, we had to make room for more adventurous dishes. The CPK menu is constantly evolving. I think our guests welcome that adventure which is why CPK has become the pizza authority. Whenever people want pizzas that are unique and original, they know it will be in CPK.”
And this is a cue that the vintage pizzas will have a twist.
“Our vintage pizzas are made with a much improved and authentic hand-stretched pizza dough recipe. Our long-time patrons will find these vintage flavors familiar yet exciting. They were all bestsellers when they were first introduced. But CPK would not be CPK without infusing something new and different to these pizzas. We redid the dough and it now enhances all the ingredients. These are vintages pizzas made better,” Rodriguez revealed.
He further explained: “We’re using a new hand-stretched pizza dough that makes the crust light but crispy. Hand-stretched pizza dough also helps accentuate the ingredients more. Each pizza becomes a unique mix of crispiness and softness. Aesthetically, there may be little difference between them, except for some puffiness in the crust. But hand-stretched pizza is the traditional and authentic way of making pizza, the original way CPK made it when we first started.”
Lomotan said that the hand-stretched dough is an artisanal practice, which many will find interesting and homey even though the shape and the consistency of the pizzas are not perfect, but those are exactly the charm of it. She also mentioned that the dough is not the sour dough used in American restaurants, because Filipinos don’t like sour dough. Instead, they infused the though with some honey. Since 60 percent of the CPK Philippines’ ingredients are locally source, the flour used is a mixture of local and American. A mestizo dough, you can call it.
The vintage pizzas will mark the first wave of
hand-stretched pizzas to the CPK menu.
Eventually, the restaurant will roll out a menu of all hand-stretched
The Teriyaki Chicken Pizza is made up of teriyaki chicken strips, Mozzarella, queso quesadilla, red and yellow peppers, red onions, and slivered scallions with a teriyaki-ginger sauce.
“We have been developing a menu that embraces a shift towards more innovative, seasonal and healthy dishes, starting with our vintage pizza set. We are also hand-tossing the dough, which we historically had gotten away from, so each pizza becomes unique,” Rodriguez said.
A promo accompanies the vintage pizzas — the CPK Vintage Pizza Passport promo. One can get a passport and when one orders a vintage pizza, one gets a stamp in the passport. Those who earn five stamps for the five vintage pizzas will get P500 worth of CPK gift certificates.
The Tostada Chicken Pizza is heavy with southwestern black beans, Monterey Jack, queso quesadilla and grilled chicken breast, topped with lettuce, tomato salsa, ranch dressing, chopped scallions and tortilla strips.
For more details, join the CPK Philippines community at www.facebook.com/CPKPhilippines or visit any of CPK branches at the Alabang Town Center, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Greenhills Promenade Mall, TriNoma, Power Plant Mall, Greenbelt 5, Lucky Chinatown Mall, Subic Harbor Point Mall and W Global Center in Bonifacio Global City.