California Pizza Kitchen
BBQ chicken pizza
1 glass of water
I HATE California Pizza Kitchen. Not because their food is bad. It’s more of a Pavlovian reaction to a job I had several years ago. I worked at a small start-up post-production house that provided meals for all clients and employees. The two owners of that company had a general dislike for food. One of them, Dave, said he was traumatized from his mother’s cooking and looked at eating as a chore. He only ate Big Mac’s and fries. My other boss, Rob, usually picked meals for everyone from three places: Cheesecake Factory, Jerry’s Famous Deli and California Pizza Kitchen. In the seven months I was there, I had a chance to eat every single item off the menu from those three places, repeatedly. Soon enough, eating turned into a chore for me as well. The other employees, including one of the boss’ girlfriend, tried rebelling by ordering Thai Food. But that was quickly squashed, and we had to settle for Cheesecake Factory. CPK was my favorite of those three, I guess. The BBQ Chicken Pizza, one of the quintessential California-style pizzas, is one of the few things I don’t hate. So if I have to go to a CPK, that’s what I’ll get. Or the BBQ Chicken Salad. Everything else is too painful of a reminder of six-days work-week at 14 hours a day while eating the same dish for the third time that week. It’s not you, CPK. I’m the one with issues here.
1 sausage and fennel pizza
1/2 butterscotch budino
There isn’t a whole lot I can write about Pizzeria Mozza that hasn’t been written before. Yes, it’s good, and it’s definitely worth a visit every now and then. It’s not a traditional Neapolitan pizza per se, but you can’t argue with the crackling results on that phenomenal pizza-bread crust. Some of my favorites include the two topped with an eggs, with either guanciole, radicchio and baugna cuda or potatoes, bacon and onions. The squash blossoms and the rapini with anchovies are also ones I’ve enjoyed. But my personal favorite is the sausage and fennel, and it’s the only one I’ve ordered more than twice. There’s a potent punch of fennel powder that hits your nose before you even bite into it, and that effectively cuts through the sweetness of the sausage. I devoured the entire pizza in about 15 minutes. I also end every meal at Mozza with at least a shared order of the butterscotch budino, still my favorite dessert in LA. It’s caramel, salt and cream, ’nuff said.
2 bottles of Sierra Nevada beer
2 bite-size mini-tarts (from Susina Bakery)
1 mini-grilled cheese panini (from Susina Bakery)
If a party is going to serve various goods from Susina Bakery, of course I’m going to park myself by the food table and eat what I can, even after eating two pizzas in one day. And this is why I gained a few pounds the last few weeks. God damn free food! It’s evil for a weak-willed simpleton like me.