The Dish: California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen


5173 Peachtree Parkway, Norcross


· Open since: Monday

· Location: California Pizza Kitchen, the first in Gwinnett County, is nestled in The Forum off Peachtree Parkway in Norcross.

· Hours: 11 a.m. to

10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to

10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

· History: California Pizza Kitchen was founded in 1985 by attorneys Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax and has since crossed the California state line, with locations throughout the U.S. and abroad. The CPK at The Forum is the sixth location in the Atlanta metro area.

· Atmosphere: Deviating from the look of earlier restaurants, the California Pizza Kitchen at The Forum features a lighter color scheme for a fresh, contemporary atmosphere. The restaurant offers booth and table seating with a covered patio for outdoor dining.

· Menu: "The name says pizza, but we do so much more," said Pat Ellis, director of operations for California Pizza Kitchens, echoing the chain's overall sentiment regarding its food. CPK's menu features pastas, sandwiches, salads and soups. The most popular non-pizza selections are chicken tequila fettucine - spinach, fettucine with chicken, red, green and yellow peppers, red onions and fresh cilantro in a tequila-lime and jalapeno cream sauce - and garlic cream fettucine.

A popular salad option is the original BBQ chicken chopped salad of chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama, cilantro, basil, crispy corn tortilla strips and Monterey Jack cheese tossed with an herb ranch dressing and topped with chopped BBQ chicken breast, diced tomatoes and green onions. The Thai crunch comes in second, made with shredded Napa cabbage, chilled grilled chicken breast, julienne cucumbers, edamame, crispy wontons, peanuts, cilantro, julienne carrots, red cabbage and green onions tossed with a lime-cilantro dressed and topped with crispy rice sticks and a Thai peanut dressing.

Popular pizza options include the Jamaican jerk chicken pizza, which is topped with grilled jerk-spiced chicken breast with a spicy sweet Caribbean sauce, mozzarella cheese, applewood smoked bacon, mild onions, roasted red and yellow peppers and green onions, and the Margherita pizza, a classic Italian made with imported Italian tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh mozzarella cheeses topped with basil and parmesan cheese. All pizzas can be made with honey-wheat dough.

Some rcent additions to CPK's menu include the pan-sauteed mahi-mahi, the Cabo crab cakes and a pesto chicken pizza.

· Things you might not know: The CPK at The Forum is part of the restaurant chain's move to become "greener" with its lower lighting and waterless urinals.

SideBar: On the menu

· Singapore shrimp rolls - Shrimp, baby broccoli, soy-glazed Shiitake mushrooms, spinach, carrots, rice noodles, bean sprouts, green onion and cilantro wrapped in rice paper and served chilled with a sesame-ginger dipping sauce and Szechuan slaw, $8.49

· Asparagus soup - A creamless vegetarian soup garnished with garlic-herb croutons, bowl $6.29, cup $4.29

· Ginger salmon - Pan-sauteed Atlantic salmon topped with chopped cilantro, green onions and a sweet ginger sauce served with wok-stirred Mandarin noodles, snow peas and sesame seeds or wok-stirred mixed vegetables, $17.94

· Four cheese ravioli - Ravioli with fine herbs, imported Asiago, mascarpone, ricotta and parmesan cheeses sauteed in a creamy pomodoro sauce with fresh basil, $11.99

· Pepperoni pizza - Pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, $11.99