Friday, October 17, 2008

California Pizza Kitchen, Farmington, CT January 2008 Grade: A

Amy writes...

A while ago, Joanne and I had both been wanting to go to Trader Joe’s for a stock-up and thought it would be fun to go together. Across the street from the store is a huge mall, and in that mall is a California Pizza Kitchen. We went there first, because it’s just never a good idea to shop at a grocery store hungry. Now, the two of us have always had a lot in common, but lately it’s been getting kind of creepy. So it didn’t really surprise either of us when we both ordered the exact same thing: the “Tricolore Salad Pizza” with a glass (or three…) of wine. We both tried “A by Acacia” Pinot Noir, a first for both of us. The wine was spicy and medium-bodied with hints of dark fruit, perhaps blackberries. It was easy to drink on its own but it also went quite well with our meal. Now, this salad/pizza (pizzalad???) is one of Joanne's favorites as it brings back memories of the pizza to end all pizzas she had in Florence, but it was my first time trying it. The crust was very thin and crispy, with parmesan cheese baked into it. There was also a hint of sweetness that neither of us could really place. We asked our server and she let out the secret - they brush the dough with corn syrup before cooking it that caramelizes in the brick oven and gives the crust that little extra something. Works for me. This amazing crust was topped with a three-color (hence the name) mix of arugula, radicchio and baby red leaf lettuce, as well as some chopped tomatoes tossed in a Dijon balsamic vinaigrette. I added grilled shrimp to mine, Joanne chose rosemary grilled chicken. Shaved parmesan was a great finishing touch to both, which really enhanced the parm found in the crust. The flavor profiles were spot on and – shocker! – I can tell it’s going to be a favorite of mine.

Our service was also very good. In most of our dining adventures, Joanne and I tend to sit at the bar because we find service is better there--especially at busy times. We were not proven wrong. Our bartender was friendly and efficient, and always within earshot. She checked on us without hovering, refilled water, and was knowledgeable about the menu, able to answer questions when we asked.

Overall it was a great experience, worthy of an A grade.

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