California Pizza Kitchen Is Crazy Busy

The day after Christmas 2016, California Pizza Kitchen at Ka Makana Ali’i had a line out the door at 11am. By 1pm, the wait for a table was more than 90 minutes.

Full disclosure: My cousin’s a bartender there. Still, the above are facts. As is this—I went last Friday night, and there was yet another line out the door. The bar was completely full, as was the outside patio area.

My family and I were among those who waited for a table the day after Christmas. Once we were seated everyone ordered an entree, so I got a pretty decent sense for what’s on the menu.

I had Wild Mushroom Strozzapreti, which is a seasonal dish. I’d never had strozzapreti before (at least not to my knowledge). It’s a thick pasta, almost closer to a dumpling—in fact the name is used to refer to dumplings in some parts of Italy.

(Complete side note: According to the link above, “strozzapreti” means “priest-strangler”, the story is that a priest loved them so much he ate too many and suffocated. Sounds like a story some budding Italian restauranteur invented to me.)

Wild Mushroom Strozzapreti at California Pizza Kitchen Wild Mushroom Strozzapreti, photo via California Pizza Kitchen

The thickness of the pasta matched well with the meaty hunks of wild mushroom. The dish was dressed with olive oil—a tad too much olive oil for my taste, but still good.

My wife and her brother ate family-style, sharing a Sicilian pizza and a plate of spaghetti Bolognese (that’s spaghetti with meat sauce). I think if I went back that’s how I’d want to order everything. Most dishes are huge, and the pizza is probably more than one person should eat. I would’ve liked a salad to go along with my pasta as well.

That said, I ate the whole thing and had a slice of my wife’s Sicilian pizza too.

One of the most popular orders at our table was CPK’s new Carne Asada Pizza.

carne asada pizza at california pizza kitchen Carne Asada Pizza, photo via California Pizza Kitchen.

Two people ordered this Mexican-inspired pizza and both ate it up. It’s topped with carne asada (that’s steak), charred poblano peppers, and onions. The “pizza sauce” is a cilantro pesto.

The service was excellent, despite the fact that the restaurant was completely slammed. I would’ve expected the food to come out slow, or the waiter to be too busy to be very attentive, but none of that happened.

The entrees are all around $15. If you were in a big group, you might consider, say, ordering 6 entrees for 8 people or something like that.

California Pizza Kitchen opens at 11am every day. It closes at 10pm, except on Friday and Saturday, when it’s open until 11pm. If you just want the food and don’t want to wait in line, you can order online and pick up at the restaurant. I haven’t tried this but it looks pretty nice—you can place an order for them to prepare right away, or you can set it to be ready later in the day.