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California Pizza Kitchen Ka Makana Ali’i Kapolei Preview

On behalf of The Tasty Island, Yours Truly was honorably invited as one of several media VIP guests to attend last night’s culinary preview of the new California Pizza Kitchen at the also new Ka Makana Ali’i, a major shopping mall otherwise still under construction in Kapolei on the west side of Oahu.

The event was hosted by CPK President Chris Morris, SVP of Culinary Innovation, Brian Sullivan, and Regional Partner Eddie Spencer.

Food and beverages were served which showcased their “Next Chapter” menu, featuring dishes exclusive to Hawaii.

Along with Macy’s nearby, CPK Kapolei is scheduled for its grand opening this Friday, September 30, 2016.

CPK’s official press release:


CPK expands in Hawaii with new location on southwest side of Oahu showcasing the latest in culinary innovation with creative menu items, hand-crafted cocktails and more

Kapolei, Hawaii – September 29, 2016 – California Pizza Kitchen (“CPK”), the authority in creative dining with a California vibe, is growing on Oahu with the opening today of its first location on the southwest part of the island. Located at the highly anticipated Ka Makana Ali’i mall in Kapolei, the first regional shopping center to be built on Oahu in over 30 years (91-5431 Kapolei Parkway, Ste. 500, Kapolei, HI 96707), CPK’s seventh and newest location on Oahu showcases the latest in culinary innovation with creative food and beverage items made with high-quality, fresh and seasonal ingredients, from inventive main plates and shareable small plates, to hand-tossed artisan pizzas, craft cocktails and more. CPK Kapolei is the first of two new locations opening in Oahu, with CPK Mililani opening in early 2017.

“We are excited to grow in the beautiful state of Hawaii with our first restaurant in Kapolei,” said G.J. Hart, executive chairman and CEO at California Pizza Kitchen. “This restaurant showcases California Pizza Kitchen’s newly reimagined dining experience, from our contemporary look and creative atmosphere centered around our open kitchen to our incredible menu that highlights seasonality and bold flavors. Hawaii remains one of the very top markets for CPK, and we are delighted to expand our reach to southwest Oahu as well as to Mililani early next year.”

To celebrate the restaurant’s grand opening this Friday, Kahu Aaron Mahi will conduct a traditional Hawaiian blessing with Maile Lei. Local media and VIPs in attendance at our culinary preview enjoyed food and beverages as well as a lesson in CPK-style dough tossing.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of the Ka Makana Ali’i shopping center and look forward to serving up the very best in culinary creativity to our guests,” said Eddie Spencer, regional partner for CPK in Hawaii. “Join us for your favorite California-style pizza or explore our newest creations in small plates and mains, including several delicious, wild-caught Ahi dishes created specially for our Hawaii locations.”

Highlights of CPK Kapolei’s menu include:

  • Shareable small plates, like Crispy Ahi Tuna Rolls* featuring wild caught Ahi tuna, avocado, nori and shaved cabbage hand-rolled in a crispy wonton with housemade tamari ginger dipping sauce, and Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower, with fresh cauliflower florets fried to a golden brown with buttermilk batter, tossed in Sriracha buffalo sauce and topped with a salad of celery, Gorgonzola and cilantro
  • Fresh and creative salads, such as the Poke Chop Chop Salad*, with marinated fresh Ahi tuna served over baby bok choy greens, spicy Kimchi pears, fresh arugula, cucumber and cilantro, tossed in housemade black sesame vinaigrette
  • Premium main plates, including a Fire-Grilled Ribeye cooked with pinot noir sea salt, topped with creamy bleu cheese butter and served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic wild arugula salad, and Wild Caught Sesame Seared Ahi*, featuring sesame-crusted Ahi tuna steak and seared baby bok choy, over a stir-fry of roasted farro, Shiitake mushrooms and sweet chili. Topped with pickled ginger
  • CPK’s signature, hand-tossed pizzas like the iconic Original BBQ Chicken Pizza and more
  • Featured seasonal dishes, such as the Roasted Garlic Chicken, a crispy-skin chicken breast in lemon-garlic sauce, with a medley of the season’s freshest vegetables

*Menu items exclusive to Hawaii CPK locations

For those with specific dietary needs, CPK also has options that are under 650 calories, vegetarian and/or gluten-free. The company also provides allergen information to those with food sensitivities. For the complete menu, visit www.cpk.com/menu.

Craft cocktails and premium wines

CPK’s new hand-crafted cocktails feature premium spirits with fresh fruit purées and herbs, such as the Hand-Shaken Agave Mojito featuring Bacardi Superior Rum, fresh agave sour, fresh mint & lime and organic Hawaiian sugar cane; California Roots, made with fresh avocado, shaken smooth with Svedka vodka, mint and lime, with a fennel salt rim; Blueberry Ginger Smash, with fresh muddled blueberries, lime and cranberry with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Domaine de Canton Ginger; and more.

Featured fresh-made sangrias include Orchard Sangria, a refreshing blend of white wine, St. Germain Elderflower, Monin Stone Fruit, orange & cranberry juice, Red-Berry Sangria, with a rich blend of red wine, Rémy VSOP, Monin Blackberry, raspberry purée, cranberry juice and lemonade and Beehive Sangria, a sweet blend of white wine, Cointreau, Monin Lavender, strawberry purée, honey and lemon. Enjoy your favorite or sample all three with CPK’s new Sangria Flight.

The menu also includes an updated wine list featuring premium California wines from Buena Vista, Mark West, Sonoma-Cutrer, Napa Cellars and CPK’s custom blend by KOZ. For those seeking something bubbly, Le Grand Courtâge Blanc de Blancs Brut is also available.

CPK’s reimagined menu is now also available at its other Hawaii locations, including the Pearlridge Center, Ala Moana, Waikiki, Kailua Town Center, Kahala Mall and Honolulu International Airport on Oahu and Kahului Airport on Maui. CPK opened its first location in Hawaii at the Kahala Mall in 1987.

Modern design showcases CPK’s new look with rustic elements, local artwork

With a focus on sustainable materials and reclaimed elements, CPK Kapolei’s creative indoor-outdoor space offers an upscale and relaxed environment to dine and unwind. The approximately 7,000 sq. foot restaurant features an open kitchen centered around the open-hearth pizza oven, where guests can watch their meals prepared fresh from scratch every day, a dedicated bar and outdoor patio. Natural elements like reclaimed wood seating, a fresh herb garden, colorful décor and artwork of local landmarks add to the restaurant’s modern design and neighborhood feel.

Click to view CPK Kapolei Tasting Menu on reverse side

Satisfaction guaranteed

The new CPK menu encourages diners to seek unique and seasonal flavor combinations and offers a Menu Adventure Guarantee: If a guest tries a new dish and is not satisfied, it will be replaced with his or her favorite item from the CPK menu.

CPKids parties

CPK offers a special program that allows kids to play chef and make their own pizza from the freshest ingredients, while getting creative and learning about food along the way. Perfect for birthday parties, CPKids parties include a VIP-style behind-the-counter restaurant tour, a meal and dessert from the award-winning CPKids menu, souvenirs and a certificate for a free CPKids Meal for each child’s next visit.

Follow CPK on Twitter at @calpizzakitchen (#NEWCPK), Instagram at @californiapizzakitchen and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/californiapizzakitchen. Download CPK’s Pizza Dough® Rewards app for iTunes and Android and check in to begin earning rewards for dining creatively.

About California Pizza Kitchen

In 1985, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) opened its first restaurant in Beverly Hills and introduced diners to innovative California-style pizza. Since then, CPK has become a global brand known for creative California cuisine. Today, CPK is approaching 300 restaurants in 16 countries around the world. Dedicated to a unique dining experience, CPK is now introducing its Next Chapter featuring reimagined menus, open kitchens, and unique renovations in all restaurants across the country. For more information on California Pizza Kitchen, visit cpk.com.

California Pizza Kitchen at Ka Makana Ali’i
91-5431 Kapolei Parkway
Kapolei, Hawaii  96707

Hours of Operation:
Sun-Thurs 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Media Contacts:
Kathleen Bush
California Pizza Kitchen Public Relations

Melissa Penn
Coast Public Relations for CPK

Following are photos taken by Yours Truly at last night’s CPK media preview event . Note that everything shown, save for the Wild Caught Seared Ahi dish, was offered to us as part of their Tasting Menu. I’ve left commentary  and “Musubi ratings” on each dish and cocktail, accordingly. Enjoy. ;-)

The lovely Jackie (originally from New York!) starts us off with non-alcoholic Fresh Strawberry Mango Coolers: fresh strawberries hand-shaken with Sprite and Monin South Seas, featuring natural flavors of mango, guava and ginger

I’d say this was pretty much as described, however it did taste a bit watered down. However that could have been me, as I just got done fighting H1 rush hour traffic heading into Kapolei, so my mind was still a bit “glazed” by all that motor city madness when I first arrived. lol

Wild Mushroom Pizza: shaved Cremini, Shiitake, Portobello and White Mushrooms with slivered scallions, cracked pepper, Romano And Mozzarella, finished with Parmesan and White Truffle Oil

Yum! OK, we’re off to a GREAT START, as I’m seriously a ‘Shroom FREAK, so this pizza was right up my alley! Drizzle some of that White Truffle Oil on there and BAM! I must also say their crust is to me as a Pizza “amateur”, EXCELLENT. Like most folks, I judge great pizza by the crust over all else, and I think CPK totally nails it (sorry New York lol). While the combination of ingredients they topped this with had perfect harmony. No more, no less. Wouldn’t change a thing. 5 SPAM Musubi.

CPK’s Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage Hand-tossed Crust Pizza: Cremini mushrooms, Rustic Pepperoni, spicy Italian Sausage, fresh torn Basil, Mozarella and Wild Greek Oregano

Personally I’m not a “kitchen sink” kinda’ guy, so this was a bit over-the-top for me, toppings-wise. Still delicious, don’t get me wrong, however I would have scaled back on several toppings. 3 SPAM Musubi.

Sangria Flight: three 3 oz. pours of CPK’s Orchid, Red-Berry and Beehive Sangria

These are essentially wine coolers, and they’re certainly refreshing, served to us pretty much ice cold. My fave’ was the Red-Berry, as it had the most Cab’-like flavor profile. The other two were kinda’ vague; I couldn’t really make out what they were. Still delicious though. One more flight, please.

Crispy Ahi Tuna Roll: wild-caught Ahi tuna, avocado, nori and shaved cabbage, hand-rolled in a crispy wonton with CPK’s house-made Tamari-Ginger dipping sauce (this dish is exclusive to Hawaii CPK restaurants)

The description already tells you this is gonna’ rock ‘n roll, and I was singing “Whole Lotta’ Love” in my head the entire time while wolfing one of these down. So good, not a single one was left on the plate soon after it arrived at our table. It’s all about flavor and texture contrast, which this was 100% all that.

Admittedly, the Tamari-Ginger sauce was a bit strange to me, where I would have stuck to a conventional wasabi and shoyu or chinese mustard and shoyu, or perhaps Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. Still, FWIW, she go. Overall 5 SPAM Musubi, with or without the Tamari-Ginger sauce. I’d order just this and call it day. Goodnight.

Wild Caught Sesame Seared Ahi: sesame-crusted Ahi tuna steak and seared baby bok choy, over a stir-fry of roasted farro, Shiitake mushrooms and sweet chili. Topped with pickled ginger (this dish is exclusive to CPK Hawaii restaurants)

This exclusive Hawaii dish was the only one we weren’t served. I actually grabbed this shot while walking by the kitchen taking photos. Not to fret, as the Crispy Tuna Rolls more than satisfied my craving for seared Ahi.

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower: fresh Cauliflower flortes fried to a golden brown with buttermilk batter, tossed in house-made Sriracha Buffalo sauce and topped with a salad of celery, Gorgonzola and Cilantro

Whoah, this buggah was spicy-hot. Then again, I’m a wuss when it comes to hot food, so there you go. It definitely both looked and tasted like Buffalo wings sauce, which makes you kinda’ expect there to be chicken it. Then when you do, it’s like, “Huh? Cauliflower?”. I honeslty wasn’t really digging the Cauliflower, as its too plain-tasting and too crunchy. I think blanched Broccoli would have been better, or, ooh! Tofu! While I didn’t ask, I assume Chef Sullivan tried everything, and Cauliflower turned out the most liked by the panel of judges. I’ll give props to the buttermilk batter, as that was pretty awesome. Otherwise, I give this the lowest score of everything, landing at 1 SPAM Musubi (average).

Quinoa + Arugula Salad: CPK’s super grain salad with asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, toasted pine nuts and feta, tossed with house-made Champagne Vinaigrette

When I looked at this salad, my first thought was that it was going to be boring, tasting like any other grain-laced salad, coming across as “too healthy and not satisfying”. Yet you know what? I was really digging this! The way the Champaigne Vinaigrette integrated with the bold Feta and earthy Sun-Dried Tomatoes, combined with the complex play on textures from the Quinoa and other greens, plus those woody pine nuts, this salad was rockin’ it! 4 SPAM Musubi for sure!

California Roots: Svede Vodka, fresh Avocado & Mint and fresh Agave Sour with Fennel Salt Rim

Dude, if I wasn’t driving, I could’ve seriously drank a whole pitcher of this stuff, it’s that delicious and refreshing. Imagine the flavor of Avocado and mint, sweetened up, with a bit of creaminess to it, and that’s pretty much what this “California Roots” tasted like to me. 5 Ume Musubi!

Wild Mushroom Strazzopreti: rolled pasta noodles with pan-sauteed Cremini, Portobello and seasonal mushrooms, Parmesan and fresh Thyme and Parsley

Read the ingredients and look at the execution, and you know what I”m giving this right off the bat: 5 SPAM Musubi. BOOM! I loved this so much, I told Chef Sullivan if I had the chance, I’d eat a whole plate of it later that night in front the TV when I’m home. And you know what he did? He went back to the kitchen and brought me back a box of his Wild Mushroom  Strazzopreti to-go. Dude, YOU ARE THE MAN! And I enjoyed every single bite later that night watching Gilligan’s Island reruns.Yes!

Brian Sullivan, SVP of Culinary Innovation for CPK Corporate, explains at our table the benefits of cooking with fresh Thyme and how he incorporates it into the dishes he creates for CPK

Coconut Blossom: Hangar 1 “Mandarin Blossom” Vodka, Casamigos Tequila Blanco, Fresh Agave Sour, Perfect Perle Coconut and Fresh Pineapple with Pineapple Crown garnish

Being I’m a coconut fan, I was definitely diggin’ this. It tasted pretty much like a Pina Colada, sans the slush factor. However in place of that, it was slightly gelatinous from the blended fresh pineapple. 4 Ume Musubi.

CPK’s Fire-grilled Ribeye: 12 oz. USDA choise ribeye grille with house-made Pinot Noir sea salt, topped with creamy bleu cheese butter. Served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic wild Arugula salad.

CPK’s Fire-grilled Ribeye with fingerling potatoes and Arugula salad (angle “B”)

Braddah Davey D of Krater 96.3 FM (Greg Hammer’s wing man) cuts into our table’s Fire-grilled Ribeye for the first time, revealing it’s medium-rare doneness beauty within… Ooh! I rike-ee! I rike-ee! lol 

Pomai’s sampler plate of a slice of Fire-Grilled Ribeye with fingerling potatoes and Arugula Salad, along with a side of Wild Mushroom Strozzapreti.. All so ono together, you don’t even know!

Saving the best for last, the Fire-Grilled Ribeye was OFF THE CHAIN! Price on the menu for this 12 oz. bad boy? Just $27.99, including fingerling potatoes and Arugula Salad. Dude, DEAL! Just a bit shy on richness and tenderness from a prime grade aged cut you’d get a steakhouse for twice the price, this was pretty much just as satisfying a steak as  you can get. Excellent sear, very juicy and very tender.

Pinot Noir Sea Salt

Taste-wise? Chef Sullivan explained that he uses Pinot Noir Sea Salt to season it. What exactly is that? Well, they take Pinot Noir wine and reduce it until it’s like a syrup, then they coat sea salt with it and let it dry with the wine reduction. This flavorizes the salt with the essence of said Pinot Noir, where when it’s applied to the steak, once you take a bite, the flavor of the beef totally EXPLODES.

The combination of the perfectly grilled ribeye with that Pinot Noir Salt immediately hits you right in your taste buds, where you’re like, “OMG, this steak is so f%#@in’ good!” Chef said he’s also experimented with flavoring salt with other types of wine, to even whiskey and Brandy (sigh), and they all turned out fantastic. The great thing about this flavored salt, is you don’t even need sauce for the steak, this stuff is that magical. If it wasn’t topped with that creamy blue cheese butter, I doubt I’d miss it. Well OK, I’d miss it, because I love butter and cheese, but you get my point. lol

Oh, the Pesto-smothered fingerling potatoes and Arugula Salad were also right on point, and a perfect match for the flavor-packed Ribeye.

Major league 5 SPAM Musubi for CPK’s Fire-Grilled Ribeye. At just $27.99, that’s a total deal!

Hand-shaken Agave Mojito: Bacardi Superior Rum, fresh Agave Sour, fresh mint & lime and organic Hawaiian Sugar Cane

Yummy! Wait, are we in Kapolei or Acapulco? lol 5 Ume Musubi.

Butter Cake: CPK says, “Trust us, just try it”; Served warm with house-made whipped cream and Vanilla Haagen-Daaz ice cream

The server told us “This is what heaven tastes like”, and were like, “Well gee, let’s hope it meets that expectation.” And? Eh, it’s a’aight. I dunno, as I’m not a cake person as you know, so this wasn’t really rockin’ my world. The cake almost tasted like Corn Bread, albeit a really sweet and buttery one. Now if they poured the caramel sauce over it from the next dessert, well THEN we’d be talkin’! As is, I give this 2 SPAM Musubi. Remember though, that rating is coming from a “pie guy”, not a cake kinda’ guy.

Salted Caramel Pudding: rich caramel pudding, black cocoa cookie crumbs, house-made whipped cream, caramel sauce and natural flaked Maldon sea salt

Salted Caramel Pudding (sampler version)

OK, now THIS IS BLISS. All four elements of this are what I LOVE in dessert: Pudding, Whipped Cream, crumbled cookies, and most of all CARAMEL. I LOVE, LOVE LOVE Caramel. You could pour this salted Caramel sauce over my rubbah slippah after I just got out of a public restroom and I’d probably still eat it. Eew, that’s gross, but you get the idea. lol

Like the Fire-Grilled Ribeye, major league 5 SPAM Musubi for CPK’s Salted Caramel Pudding. Get some!

An absolutely gorgeous CPK Kapolei server brings out a display sample of  their Butter Cake (no ice cream on top, as it will obviously melt)

CPK Kapolei dining room with elegant low-lit ambient lighting

Various seating options accommodate any size of party

Tables line the open kitchen

Open kitchen, highlighted by their hearth pizza oven

CPK Kapolei full service bar

Open air outdoor seating (they’re talking video of a server singing with the live band)

Kapena Delima performs live, with one of the CPK Kapolei servers on vocals… excellent singer!

Casual outdoor open air seating

‘Tasty Island Hawaii’ is forever honored by CPK Kapolei on their longboard (surfboard) that will be hung in the restaurant, which is autographed by opening team members, corporate management, vendors and media folks. Sorry I don’t have fancy “tagging” styles like some of the other folks. lol 

CPK prides itself on its extensive wine list

“CA meets HI” art deco adorns the entrances

Kathleen and Taiyza of CPK Corporate

Gem of HawaiiMomBlog.com with Pomai of TastyIslandHawaii.com… local bloggers unite at CPK Kapolei!

Brian Sullivan, SVP of Culinary Innovation for CPK Corporate, with Betty Shimabukuro, Food Editor for the Honolulu Star Advertiser and Pomai of The Tasty Island ~ 9.28.16

Ashley Ceraolo, SVP of Marketing and Beverage for CPK, with Pomai at the CPK Ka Makana Ali’i Kapolei preview event ~ 9.28.16

Jeanne Hoffa, CEO of Coast Public Relations with Pomai at CPK Kapolei ~ 9.28.16 (didn’t ask if she’s related to Jimmy lol)

CPK President Chris Morris with Pomai at the CPK Ka Makana Ali’i Kapolei preview event ~ 9.28.16

Eddie Spencer, CPK Regional Partner and Davey D, morning radio personality (with Greg Hammer) on Krater 96.3FM ~ 9.28.16

Kathleen Bush, VP of Public Relations for California Pizza Kitchen with Pomai ~ 9.28.16

Brian Sullivan, SVP of Culinary Innovation for CPK Corporate, Pomai Souza of The Tasty Island and Davey D, morning radio personality for Krater 96.3FM, working alongside Greg Hammer (his best friend!); I shared the table with Davey D and his ohana at last night’s event… they were so fun chatting with!

CPK Hawaii Menu
Small Plates + Flatbreads, Appetizers, Soups and Salads
Main Plates, Pastas and Wild Caught Ahi Creations
Pizza Unique: Original Hand-tossed and Crispy Thin Crust

Summing it up, this looks like it will certainly be yet another very successful CPK restaurant in Hawaii, with all the right pieces in place. Great decor with seating for any need, full bar with multiple big screen TVs for all the neighborhood sports fans, fabulous folks who work there, and a menu to fit just about every budget, taste and diet.

Thanks to Ken our “Sodium Cop”, I already went over their nutritional facts, and CPK has their numbers in check, where you shouldn’t need to do 40 laps around some park in Kapolei afterwards to burn it off. lol

That said, according to the Chef, 90% of the menu’s recipes are built from scratch, with of most of the produce locally sourced.

I asked Brian Sullivan, their SVP of Culinary Innovation, what he wants you folks to know most, and his quick answer was, “We’re more than Pizza. Please tell everyone we’re much more than that. We do great apps, pastas, soups, salads, sandwiches, much more, and we’ve designed them to be both satisfying and healthy.” Which as you can see by the preview menu they’ve offered us above, that much is very true. And it was all for the most part absolutely ONO!

Once again, California Pizza Kitchen is scheduled to have their grand opening tomorrow, Friday, September 30th in the new Ka Makana Ali’i Shopping Center in Kapolei. Be there, or be round like a Pizza Pie-aah!

California Pizza Kitchen at Ka Makana Ali’i
91-5431 Kapolei Parkway
Kapolei, Hawaii  96707

Hours of Operation:
Sun-Thurs 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Related links:
California Pizza Kitchen at Ka Makana Ali’i in Kapolei – HawaiiMomBlog.com
California Pizza Kitchen expands with new location in Kapolei! – KHON2 News
Hampton Inn, California Pizza Pizza Kitchen open at Ka Makana Ali’i in Kapolei (video report) – KHON2 News


9 thoughts on “California Pizza Kitchen Ka Makana Ali’i Kapolei Preview

  • September 30, 2016 at 8:15 am

    So great to finally meet you in real life!  Isn’t that Wild Mushroom Strazzopreti amazing!!  Awesome post and pix – hope to see you around again soon!!

    • September 30, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      Hi Gem! OMG, that Wild Mushroom Strazzopreti is bomb-dot-com! After raving about it to him, I was so stoked when Chef Sullivan walked back with an entire takeout container personally handed to me to take home. How cool is that!

      The media “pizza” gift box they gave us was super cool as well, especially the inclusion of a bag of Pinot Noir Sea Salt! I’ll be using that on my own ribeye steak at home real soon!

      Wild Mushroom Strazzopreti takeout, compliments of the Chef!

  • September 30, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    I’ve never eaten in California Pizza Kitchen because I make my own pizza (started making my own in junior high (middle school)). A little combination of New York, NY style and New Haven, CT Frank Pepe famous style and Rhode Island’s Al Forno’s world famous creation of grilled pizza. Even though my city was mainly French-Canadian, almost every city block had an Italian or Greek Pizzeria on it!
    When I reviewed California Pizza Kitchen menu nutrition with you they impressed me with their control of salt and across the board inclusion of all possible dinner’s eating habits and cuisines so their menu appears to be very balanced with varied healthy offerings of products plus the ability to dine on multiple courses without salt and calorie overload.
    Great job posting this grand opening!!!!  

    • October 1, 2016 at 4:56 am


      OK, unlike Korean cuisine, I can definitely see making your own pizza, especially with that new kitchen and top-shelf knife set you’ve got. I remember you mentioning Al Forno’s Grilled Pizza before, about them being the pioneer of the style. Something about them putting herbs in the fire oven.

      I was surprised how many Pizza joints were in San Francisco. Just about every street had one (or more!), particularly around the Union Square business district and Polk district. I’m sure there were lots more in other areas as well.

      With the subject still at the top of mind from our discussion on Applebee’s, my first question & topic talking one-on-one with Brian Sullivan (CPK’s Corporate Executive Chef) was on CPK’s nutritional numbers, and how they’re kept in check at CPK. And he told me they absolutely watch those numbers when creating dishes, as healthy eating has always been a priority and part of their mission statement. After all, California as a state is where this whole “diet and exercise” craze got popular to begin with, heavily influenced by Hollywood, of course.

      There’s actually a Wiki on California-style Pizza, accrediting its invention to chef Ed LaDou, and Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California. Going on to say that Wolfgang Puck, after meeting LaDou, popularized the style of pizza for the rest of the country.

      • October 1, 2016 at 7:26 pm

        I still make my pizza dough like George Germon taught me. George Germon & Johanne Killeen are the famous couple that opened Al Forno restaurant on January 2, 1980 in Fox Point section, lower East Side of Providence, RI. George had a passion of cooking with only char wood natural hardwood charcoal and seasoning the smoke with natural herbs or dried grape vine. He custom built all the grills and ovens in the restaurant and used Nature’s Own Basque Maple Hardwood Charcoal which is what I used for all my BBQs and grilling. He was trying to replicate pizza without an oven when he stumbled upon making “Grilled Pizza”. Both George & Johanne are credited with inventing “Grilled Pizza”; James Beard Awarded and voted one of the top 10 pizzas in the United States and received world-wide accolades for their cuisine. George’s pizzas were always free form and kept to minimum toppings and fresh herbs because he wanted you to taste the individual flavors. Unfortunately George Germon departed and passed into the afterlife October 2015 after a short illness however Johanne is keeping Al Forno restaurant alive and operating.

        • October 2, 2016 at 11:31 am


          Ah that’s right, it was dried Grape Vine that they used to season the fire. IIRC, that Basque Maple Hardwood Charcoal is a product you folks get imported from Canada, which you said wasn’t that bad in price. You should try the Kiawe “lump” charcoal they sell here in paper bags.. it gets REALLY HOT. Great for grilling ribeye steak or kalbi.

          Al Forno Menu (Clam’s Al Forno sounds awesome!)

          Al Forno Restaurant – Yelp

  • October 1, 2016 at 4:12 am

    Pomai, not sure if it California Pizza that started adding green to their pizzas.

    I like my pizzas with greens now for taste good and like having some salad

    with it.  As for the egg on top not sure who started it first but no matter it also

    very good.

    • October 1, 2016 at 4:37 am


      There’s this Japanese pizza place in Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk, where they have a Shrimp Tempura Pizza… literally a large Shrimp Tempura centered on a tiny personal pan pizza. IIRC, they also had a Tonkatsu Pizza, and a few other really odd ones. I’m definitely giving that Shrimp Tempura Pizza a try!

      I remember when CPK first came here (Kahala Mall was the first location), the buzz around town was that they were “Healthy California style Pizzas”, with as you said, lots of greens on them. Which at the time was a major shift from the usual Pizza Huts and Domino’s stuff piled with mostly just meat and cheese everyone was accustomed to.

      According to Brian Sullivan, CPK’s SVP of Culinary Innovation, the Hawaii CPK restaurants are the top performers in the entire chain. It’s always the case, not just for them, but ALL the mainland chains who open shop here, from Home Depot, Costco, Walmart, you name it. Their sales here per square foot outpace the mainland stores by leaps and bounds. Hawaii’s just a consumer-crazy society. People here could be almost penniless, yet still find a means to load-up a cart at Walmart.


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