I don’t usually review chains, but because this is for the Travel Guide, I will make an exception. The other “big mall” in the King of Prussia vicinity is located in Plymouth Meeting (the town we stayed in). It’s much smaller, but gives you additional dining options in terms of well-known chain restaurants. We gave California Pizza Kitchen a shot. Ironically, it’s a stone’s throw away from a Bertucci’s,which I consider to be one of the most overrated chain pizza places in existence.
We started out with two “small plates” appetizers consisting of a guacamole-like mixture with tortilla chips and buffalo cauliflower. The former was pretty good, though uninspiring— a chunky mixture of small cubes of avocado, corn, black beans, and peppers. I feel like that is something better made at home. The cauliflower, however, were amazing. No joke, one of the best things I have ever eaten at a chain restaurant. Decent sized pieces breaded and lightly fried, placed pleasantly on the dish with the buffalo sauce, bleu cheese dressing, and shredded celery and scallions. It was the right combination of sauce and dressing. Enough to cover it, but not drenched. The cauliflower themselves were not deep-fried either but lightly done in a pan. You could tell this was made to order. I am almost embarrassed to say we ordered a second one when we finished.
As for the pizza, it was hit and miss. My friend enjoyed his Thai Chicken one which came without cheese, and used peanut sauce instead of tomato, but mine was kind of a mess. I had the chicken club pizza. This was a sauceless pie with cheese, grilled chicken, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and arugula tossed in a lemon-pepper mayo. This was added on cold, as it should have been. No problem with the pizza itself. Crust was thin and crispy, and a good amount of chicken and bacon, with thick slices of ripe avocado. But the way the lettuce and arugula were handled was a disaster. It was like literally taking a good pizza and dumping a salad on it. I cannot complain about a lack of ingredients, but with every bite it fell apart, the greenery falling all over the plate.
I think a 3.5 out of 5 stars is a fair rating for this California Pizza Kitchen. It’s really nothing more than a slightly better, slightly more inventive, slightly less Italian version of Bertucci’s. Perhaps if my pizza did not fall apart, I would have given a 4. This is a chain I can see having success out in Pennsylvania, but where I come from in New Jersey, it would be totally unnecessary. Would I eat here again? Probably, but I am not in any rush.
The California Pizza Kitchen is located within the Plymouth Meeting Mall complex at 514 West Germantown Pike.