Post race dinner – pizza and small cravings at CPK

For several hours after the half marathon I was pretty much unable to eat. I was starving and nauseous at the same time, making it difficult to eat much. I had some ice cream, 1/2 of a sandwich and lots of water. Finally around dinner time my stomach started growling and I knew I was ready for a real meal. We decided to take the 2 minute hike (ha!) for a dinner at California Pizza Kitchen or CPK.

The atmosphere inside was standard “chain restaurant” decor.

We wanted to enjoy the beautiful weather and opted to wait for a table outside (the wait was less than 15 minutes). I took random pictures while we were waiting, including these awesome paintings using pizza boxes as canvas.

A few months ago I was contacted by Jon representing CPK who offered to send me some “CPK bucks” so that I could try a few items off their new “small cravings” menu, along with our CPK favorites. Yes, CPK is literally 2 minutes away from our house and Adam and I love it (despite the fact that it’s a chain) so I did not hesitate to take Jon up on his offer. :)

The small cravings menu has 7 items – all small plates of healthy and indulgent dishes. All of them sounded delicious. Yesterday I was not concerned about my caloric intake so we went for the indulgent sweet corn tamale ravioli and a healthier asparagus & arugula salad to start.

My drink of choice – unsweetened ice tea

Adam had a glass of cabernet

So many pizzas to choose from, so little … stomach room? ;)

Sweet corn tamale ravioli - ravioli filled with poblano peppers and cheese, tossed in a roasted pepper cream sauce with fresh sweet white corn and fresh cilantro

This was definitely an indulgent dish with all the cream but I liked that the small portion could make it a relatively guilt-free fair if you were to share it or balance it out with something fresh like the salad we ordered (the plate clocks in at 436 calories). The ravioli were made of corn dough (like corn tortillas), which I loved. The filling was not really identifiable (we definitely did not taste the poblano peppers). Same with the sauce – it was obviously creamy with lots of corn kernels but there was not a hint of roasted peppers. Now that I’m looking at the picture, the garnish is certainly not cilantro either. Overall, we liked this dish but also thought it kind of tasted like a microwave meal (a delicious microwave meal but still a microwave meal).

Next up: asparagus & arugula salad – fresh arugula, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes tossed in our homemade lemon-herb vinaigrette, topped with toasted almonds and shaved Parmesan cheese

The salad was light and fresh. It was extremely lightly dressed, which I liked – letting the veggies stand out, but I’m guessing was the reason for Adam claiming that the salad was “boring.” I truly enjoyed it and definitely don’t think this was boring – I liked the crunchy almonds, the sharp shavings of the parmesan cheese and the slight sourness of the sun dried tomatoes. I’d order this again!

I think the addition of the small cravings menu is great! CPK (like so many other chain restaurants) have such giant portions, including appetizers, that it makes it almost prohibitive to order anything except for one thing. This allows one to taste a few real appetizer portions and still enjoy the main fair – pizza! There was a girl sitting next to us that ordered a glass of wine and the Mediterranean plate from the small cravings menu and I thought that was also the perfect way to enjoy a small appetizer with a drink, while enjoying some sunshine. :)

All right, so you’ve seen it on the blog before – this is one of my favorite CPK pizzas – wild mushroom – a selection of fresh cremini, shiitake, portobello and white mushrooms, fontina and mozzarella cheeses with a wild mushroom walnut pesto

I just really love wild mushrooms and adore this combination of cheeses. This time I ordered the whole grain crust and really enjoyed it. It was slightly sweet and paired nicely with the savory toppings. I will say that I really love CPK’s thin crust and it’s ~160 calories less so I will stick with that in the future.

This pizza was 1232 calories. I ate half and enjoyed every bite.

Adam ordered the sicilian – a spicy marinara sauce with sweet Italian sausage, spicy Capicola ham, julienne salami, Fontina, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Topped with fresh oregano and basil

It looked gorgeous but I really try to stay away from non-organic meats so I didn’t try it. I wish CPK had an organic cheese option too (I’d be willing to pay extra for that!) but alas that wasn’t the case. Adam liked his pizza but said it actually had too much meat. Something tells me that’s not a problem for most diners ordering a meat pizza. This pizza was also 1225 calories (I’m shocked actually that it’s the same as the mushroom, only 5 more grams of fat too. I guess the crust makes a difference but still…).

We loved our meal at CPK and will surely be back again. Since it’s so close to our place, it’s perfect for a lazy night. :)

For other restaurant reviews, check out my Restaurant Reviews page. :D

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