California Pizza Kitchen Las Vegas - A Menu so Creative You Might Just Forget About the Pizza

Certain names carry a lot of cache and California Pizza Kitchen is one of those names. For over thirty years that name has been synonymous with not only great tasting pizza, but creativity that makes you rethink pizza. CPK with its new Las Vegas location at The Park, while still producing unique pizzas, has ventured far beyond pizza with a menu that might just make you forget about pizza.

CPK (Courtesy MGM Grand)

The first thing I must warn you as that you are not going to find most of these items in any other CPK location other than Las Vegas and Summerlin, but the menu is so good we can hope. CPK took the main reason why their pizzas are so good, fresh ingredients, and incorporated that idea into a wide-ranging menu as well as an incredible mixology program.

Spicy buffalo cauliflower (Photo Stephan Martin)

There is only right way to kick off your dining experience at CPK, and that is with the spicy buffalo cauliflower. The name itself might be a little confusing, but one bite in and you will be hooked. This is the closest thing to a buffalo wing you can possibly find without the chicken. It is created with pieces of cauliflower that resemble the size of a chicken wing, they are dipped in buttermilk batter, deep fried and finished off with a house made siracha buffalo sauce. The house made description goes with everything that comes out of the CPK kitchen and bar as they create everything fresh daily and the taste shines through. The spicy buffalo cauliflower has a great texture, somewhat crisp with a light batter and all the spice and flavor you expect with buffalo wings. This is a lighter and healthier version of the original and don't be surprised if you actually like this version better than the chicken version.

While you might expect pasta with a restaurant that is centered around pizza, you might not expect fresh rolled pasta that has an authentic Italian feel to it. No dish quite encompasses this like the wild mushroom strozzapreti. This thick hand rolled pasta is joint by four different sautéed fresh mushrooms and is all brought together in a pan-sautéed cremini. A very fresh and hearty dish, but the pasta is the clearly the focal point of this dish.

Wild mushroom strozzapreti (Photo Stephan Martin)

Las Vegas is home to what is a seemingly endless line of steak joints, so you might have to ask yourself why would you order a steak at CPK? Again CPK decided if they were going to put it on the menu they were going to do it right. A beautifully marbled fire-grilled ribeye is not only comparable to anything on the Las Vegas strip, but it is an amazing deal. $34 you get a beautiful 12 ounce ribeye, topped with a bleu cheese butter along with fingerling potatoes and a refreshing arugula salad topped with a lemon-garlic dressing.

Carne Asada pizza (Photo Stephan Martin)

Let's not forget about the pizza. You can find all of your CPK favorites but two pizzas that venture far from the norm and are well worth experiencing are the carne asada pizza and the shrimp scampi pizza. Tender carne asada on top of a cilantro pesto sauce finished off with mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese is more than enough when it comes to providing the flavors of Mexico but then you can dip or pour on the house made salsa verde to add some heat. Whatever direction you go with the pizza, you know that CPK will come through with flavors galore.

It is hard to put one thing at the top of the list that is most impressive and unexpected aspect about CPK but if you had to it would likely be the mixology program. Again it is the fresh ingredients as well as the clever combinations, not to mention a stunning bar, inside as well as outside of the restaurant. The freshness shines through in the blueberry ginger smash which is loaded with fresh blueberries in a combination of Jack Daniels, ginger and agave nectar. If you are looking for a drink that takes on a multitude of flavors, nothing does that quite like the whiskey cider press. Maker's Mark Bourbon is in there but is offset by apple cider, fresh lemonade and the tasty spiced tart cherries that are marinated in house. The best drink of all is one you have to hurry in for as it is only seasonal. That cocktail is the blood orange tequila mule. A unique twist on the Moscow Mule, CPK uses tequila and ginger beer but the true refreshing pop comes from the blood orange puree. A trio of strong flavors that come together to create a strong drink.

blood orange tequila mule.(Photo Stephan Martin)

While change and innovation can be fantastic, sometimes if a restaurant is known for something the best bet is to stick with success. The CPK classics that you can find in every restaurant are the butter cake and the key lime pie. Butter cake is the definition of what you want in a dessert, rich, creamy and beyond satisfying. It looks simple and it might be, but they have this delicacy down to an art. Finally it comes out warm and topped with house made whipped cream and served with vanilla ice cream allowing all three to just melt into one fantastic treat. The key lime pie is so good that CPK bought the recipe so they could be the only ones to serve it. This takes the key lime pie you love and know and turned it into a citrusy cheesecake like creation that puts all other key lime pies to shame.

Key Lime Pie (Photo Stephan Martin)

When you think about California Pizza Kitchen you could say come in for the pizza and stay for everything else. No one will tell you that the pizza won't be as good as you remember, but the rest of the menu will be just as satisfying, maybe even more.

The View from CPK (Courtesy MGM Grand)

For more information visit: CPK

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