Many times I would pass by the ground floor on my way to the fountains and notice California Pizza Kitchen and find its name interesting. Today I wanted to find out what’s it about.
As we walked in, the server was polite, wished us and asked if we wanted a table for two. They do have a Booth Bias, where almost all the Booths were full and most of the tables were empty. With the large individual and comfortable Booth that we sat in, I understood why.
The decor was warm. There was a whole line of booths on the side (where I was picturing from) and a few booths in the center. The rest were all tables. The lighting and ambiance was really relaxing. The booths were large enough for 4 people to be comfortable. There was a cut out in the wall to look at the kitchen, although one cannot see much of the cooking being done (Sometimes cooks would stand and look at people, this I didn’t enjoy).They do have outdoor seating with views of the fountain as well.
Shortly after sitting, we were handed the incredibly tall menus.
The menu had a good selection of Starters and Main Dishes. The selection of Pizza’s (Being their highlight) was a whole page long. They do have a few pages in the middle for pictures of random dishes.
For Starters we had something called Dynamite Shrimp.
This was a surprise. I love ordering starters, sometimes more than the main meals but not always do they surprise me in terms of flavor. This was spot on, a very delicious starter. So nice in fact, it disappeared in no time.
The shrimp were perfectly cooked with a Special Sweet Chili Sauce topped with Sesame Seeds. They lay on a bed of Rice Noodles. The flavors in the Shrimp dish were delicious and left a little Spice Tingle in my mouth. The Sauce is fairly sticky so it picks up some Rice Noodles, and that adds some crispy-ness to the experience. Very well done. If I had a criticism, it would be that the flavor of the Shrimp itself was light. Maybe they could experience with different types of Shrimp to find one with a bit more flavor.
They definitely need to replicate this dish in Chicken too.
For the Main Dish, we went with a Pizza (what else would I really want to order from a Pizza Place?) and the selection was plenty, and I had narrowed it down to like 3, out of which I went with The Original BBQ Chicken (Also mentioned as their most popular Pizza, so I had to know what the fuss was about!)
It arrived looking quite good, but not as good as it did in the menu (I know that’s usually the case). It was a bit smaller and thinner than the typical Medium Sized Pizza from Domino’s or Pizza Hut, but not by much.
The ingredients were: Barbecue Sauce, Barbecued Chicken Cubes, Red Onions, Two types of Cheeses (Gouda and Mozzarella) and topped with a little Cilantro.
So, we dug in. The Pizza is a bit thin, not very thin though (They do have a Thin Pizza at a charge) and tasted really good. 6 Slices and was nice and hot. The Pizza is very light while eating. I went with the fork and knife even though I prefer Pizza with my Hand and I was full after 3 slices (I was not that hungry though).
There is something about it that is light while you eat but filling once it reaches your stomach.
The flavors were very nice, and throughout, the flavors of Barbecue Sauce, Cheese and Red onions were tasted. There was a lot of Onions on the Pizza but they were very well cooked and left no Onion after-taste or anything.
The Chicken was Barbecued well, was tender and delicious.
I really liked this Pizza and I would think it would be enough for a person who is hungry. It was soft and juicy throughout and was a delight with every bite.
The Service: It was very good. The server who seated us handed the menus politely and was smiling all the time. The other server came over to take the order and when we requested more time, she was more than happy. During the Meal she had come by and gave my drink a refill, and it showed they are looking at their customers even though almost all their booths were full. Plenty of staff were going and coming all the time and it was easy to find someone to serve. Food was quick and by the time the Shrimp was done, the Pizza had arrived. I did dislike the window to the kitchen, and saw no necessity for it. One could not see any cooking from this view and the staff sometimes standing and looking into the Dining Area was a bit uncomfortable. Maybe if there is cooking going on behind the glass or people can see the delicious food coming and going, sure, but as it was, it wasn’t a nice touch. The bill arrived quickly and upon leaving we were greeted and thanked with big smiles.
The Value: 1 Small Bottle of local water, 1 Soft Drink (refillable), 1 Juice, 1 Starter and 1 Pizza came up to exactly 125 Dhs. It is good value for a place that is relaxing with good service and if seated outside, fantastic views too. For two hungry people, one could assume a bill around 200 Dhs. which is still good value considering the above.
The Place: 6 / 10
The Service: 8 / 10
The Food: 7 / 10
Overall: 7 / 10
I’d really recommend this place.