California Pizza Kitchen Review

Samantha Loies, Freelance Writer

California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) is a popular restaurant to eat at in the area. With its location at the Oakbrook Center and its classic pizza and pasta options, it is appealing to many who decide to go out to a casual lunch or dinner while shopping. But, as someone who follows a vegan and gluten-free diet, it is particularly difficult to find food options that accommodate my needs. 

Whenever my friends and I go shopping at the Oakbrook Center, we always decide to stop somewhere to eat with all of the different casual dining options. Recently, we chose to eat at California Pizza Kitchen due to my friend’s love of pizza and pasta. I assumed that the restaurant would have at least a few things that I could order, and I can say I was surprised.

We went on a Friday evening, and the restaurant was particularly empty. The atmosphere was very casual, open, and large. The second I walked in, I could smell the doughy pizza cooking in the brick ovens. It was warm and inviting, which pleasantly surprised me. There was no wait and we were seated about five minutes after we arrived. We were seated at a comfortable booth table and subsequently were handed the menus with countless meal options.

10 minutes later, I was still flipping through the menu. I could not find any vegan and gluten-free options, except for one salad, which I ordered. Though, I cannot be upset at this since the restaurant is known for serving pizza as stated in the name. But as many people in contemporary society follow vegan and/or gluten-free diets, I was expecting more of a variety. 

I ordered the roasted veggie salad ($18). I was immediately greeted by the overpowering smell of roasted red peppers on the salad when served. The plate did not look particularly appetizing, as it was covered in roasted artichokes, which aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing. I am not one to judge a book by its cover, so I quickly began to dig into the salad. It was half warm, half cold, with the temperature varying depending on if the vegetables were roasted or not. The artichokes, red peppers and avocado were mushy but chewy, which offseted the crunchy lettuce. Though on the menu it stated that it was served with housemade dijon balsamic vinaigrette, it seemed like it was used sparingly, as I could barely taste it on the salad. Therefore, this caused the salad to taste a little dry overall due to the lack of dressing. 

My friend ordered the shrimp scampi ($20) and enjoyed it, except for the excess oil that she said pooled up at the bottom of the dish, which was not the most appetizing. Both of the dishes took about 15 minutes to come out, which was not too long.

Though the menu does serve a variety of gluten-free pizza options, they did not have any sort of dairy-free options along with it. Almost everything on the menu contains cheese or milk. They did have plant-based meat options for vegetarians though, which was good to know. 

Overall, I personally think that the prices for the food were on the high end for what was served. In my opinion, the food was on the below-average end of the scale, as I did not find the salad to be delicious, and the oily shrimp scampi was not the most appealing. 

If you are looking for a place to get pizza, I would recommend eating here as my assumption is that this restaurant is only really good for pizza. But, if you want better food other than pizza for a reasonable price, I would recommend heading over to the mall’s food court, which has many delectable options suited for different dietary needs for less than $15. 

California Pizza Kitchen is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day throughout the week. It is located at 551 Oakbrook Center, Oakbrook. Only indoor seating is available. Delivery and pick up is available.