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One day last week, I found myself in Baton Rouge at lunchtime, in the Bluebonnet/Mall of Louisiana area. What the hell, I thought, I’ll try the California Pizza Kitchen at Perkins Rowe. I admit to buying the odd CPK frozen pizza for “desperation dinners,” and was a bit curious to compare the boxed product to the fresh, in-house version.
Truly, I wasn’t expecting much, and I wasn’t disappointed. CPK has pulled off a coup, albeit of a dubious sort. The frozen margherita pizza tastes exactly like the fresh pizza. Same texture, same degree of cheese-browning, same shape/size/thickness of crust. Surely it’s a miracle of modern, food-processing technology. Except that the qualities acceptable in a $5 frozen pizza from Wal-Mart aren’t really so desirable in a restaurant pizza for $12.
An arugula salad looked promising, at first glance. It was lightly dressed with a wine vinaigrette and thinly shaved parmesan on top. Closer inspection revealed hunks of overly salty, sun-dried tomatoes (is it still 1984 in CPK’s test kitchens?) and a scattering of roasted peanuts. I can’t even think of anything snarky to say about the roasted peanuts–they’re just dumb all around.
In conclusion, CPK’s frozen pizzas are worth $5. CPK, in person, is forgettable. If you find yourself in the Perkins/Bluebonnet area, go to the Arzi’s outlet in the mall food court for chicken shwarma.