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james 02-05-2007 05:47 PM

California Pizza Kitchen
You gotta get a kick out of this. I went into a California Pizza Kitchen for the first time today just to see what it looks like. They have an American made gas-fired oven (you know who I mean), and the temperature gauge was set to 450ºF. I asked the pizza chef how long it took to cook a pizza, and he said 10 minutes, but closer to 15 if they have a few pizzas cooking at the same time.

Ouch. You can do better than that on Weber with pizza stone.

As an aside, I also popped into a generic pizzeria that had a gas-fired deck oven running at 500ºF that cooked 5-7 minute pizza.

Which one do you think makes better pizza??

Xabia Jim 02-06-2007 12:56 AM

Re: California Pizza Kitchen
James: We've always loved CPK as a restaurant chain, been to quite a few because of the variety of flavors they use in their Pastas, Salads and Pizzas. Vegas/Chicago/DC/Ann name a few.

We bought their cookbook a few years back. They had a good crust recipe. But as I remember, they also kept wood burning in their oven....was that a combo gas/wood?

BTW I thought that chain was started by a couple of California lawyers....go figure.

jjerrier 02-06-2007 07:11 AM

Re: California Pizza Kitchen
I can't even bring myself to order the pizza there anymore...although the chicken ceasar sandwhich and the tortilla soup are great.

I think a gas fired "brick oven" makes the pizzas way too tough and chewy - plus I think the dough there makes the pizzas taste like donuts.

I'm sure it is a high volume/consistency issue with relatively untrained kitchen staff as to why they use wood ovens with gas flames. It's just much easier to cook multiple pies and have a lot going on in the kitchen too. With a wood burning oven you really have to pay attention before your pies go nuclear.

I definitely don't like the trend of wood/gas combo. Fireside Pies opened a new location in Plano, TX and they have a few logs going but then have the gas flame going too. I think the pizzas have really suffered from their first location (exclusively wood), but the local paper gave them glowing reviews and said the pies were perfect - so what do I know. Coal Vines in Dallas uses anthracite coal to fire their ovens and their pizzas are good - but it's the same thing...they cook them long because the oven is not hot enough so the dough gets tough in my opinion. Their is a huge taste difference when you cook a pizza for 90 seconds vs. 10-15 mins.

We use deck ovens in our pizzeria - not my first choice - but the pizzas come out very good and do get a crispy edge. Part of it is our dough because we do use Caputo and we have actual Neapolitans making the dough every day. Our second restaurant will have wood fired ovens.

jengineer 02-06-2007 09:16 AM

Re: California Pizza Kitchen
A quote from She Who Must Be Obeyed in regards to CPK


james 02-07-2007 08:09 AM

Re: California Pizza Kitchen
The one that I saw was pure gas, not a combo.

I think Jay's right in that there are many (at least three I can think of off the top of my head) things going on. First, it doesn't matter if the oven is gas, wood or coal, if you run it below 500ºF and cook 10 minute pizzas, you are going to make a tough and pretty terrible product. Second, if the restaurant is truly running the oven hot (750ºF+) with gas, I still think a wood-fired oven makes a better tasting and better texture pizzas -- though the difference gets tighter. And third, you will make a better pizza if you use Caputo flour -- whatever type of oven you use; a wood-fired oven, gas oven, deck oven or a pizza stone. Nearly everybody agrees on that.

mgraban 02-08-2007 06:33 AM

Re: California Pizza Kitchen
Jay, when is the southlake location opening?

jjerrier 02-09-2007 07:31 AM

Re: California Pizza Kitchen
Mark - we will hopefully be open by mid-late March. Construction is under way but is complicated because we are building the rooftop patio and need all kinds of support - we basically have to build an internal skeleton to support the weight of the roof. A headache but will be cool when its open.

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