(Guest Blogger Mike Saucier)

Today, I got to take a behind the scenes tour of the newly remodeled California Pizza Kitchen, in Wellington, at the Wellington Green Mall. I was invited to join the tour by Stacy Maggio, from Walk About Wellington, and Katie Fuchs, from The Lippin Group in New York.. (Thank you Stacy and Kim!!)

From the moment you enter this place, if you have ever been here before, you can instantly see the major changes. Everything up to the pizza station is new. The decor is done in reclaimed wood, with new tables, floors, and seating. There is even an area where you can sit with others that you don’t know yet, and you can dine, drink and make new friends. There is some modern jazzy type music playing in the background, and a few large screen TV’s, which blend in nicely, though not sports bar looking.

I was greeted at the door, by Kim, who is the Advertising Director for CPK. She seated me, and I was immediately greeted by my server, who brought some cold flavored ice tea. The regional director for CPK, Jesse Griffith, explained all the new and exciting things CPK is doing. From the updated interiors, to the new menu items, to the new drink offerings. The Wellington store is the 6th store in the Florida area to recieve the new upgrade, and more stores will be done in 2014. He discussed the Eco friendly things they are doing, such as using napkins that are made from sugar cane. They are much softer on the skin, which seemed to be the opposite previously.

OK, OK, on to the food. We started out with appetizers, which you can see in the pictures, included Quesadilla, Avocado Rolls, and Flatbreads. All were delicious. I especially enjoyed the Avocado Rolls, being a big fan of Avocado. From there, we were treated to a very nice, and very light Quinoa and Arugula salad. Quinoa is a very healthy protein, which could replace rice in most dishes. It is delicious and healthy (that’s a combination that doesn’t happen too often).

Next, we were shown some of the new signature coctails they are offering, including a “Blueberry Ginger Smash”, which was delicious. I would definately order it again, despite the fact it has whiskey (you can’t taste it). They also had an interesting drink called “California Roots”, which has as one of its ingredients, fresh avocado. Again, it was absolutely delicious. The avocado is shaken with the drink, then the drink is strained into the glass, no avocado chunks allowed. Both are pictured above.

Next, we had some Basil and Pesto Pasta, with freshly made Sun Dried Tomatoes. They actually dry their own tomatoes for a fresher taste, and it is evident in the zing you get when you bite into one. The pasta was perfectly cooked, just the way I like it. Not soggy, but not overly chewy. I am not a big fan of the “Al dente”, which for me seems to mean “undercooked”.

Sean (General Manager) and Chaz (asst GM), led us over to the bar/Pizza area, so that we could see the fresh ingredients that they use in their pizzas. They do have Gluten free pizza dough, which they keep in containers that are very well marked, so you dont have to worry about them getting them mixed. You can see some of the fresh ingredients they use in some of the pics above. The Basil is fresh from Greece, and they actually dry it out for a month here before it is used, and then it is used immediately upon opening to ensure freshness. Six of us were invited (including myself) to go behind the pizza station for a lesson in pizza making. We got to make our own pizza with the dough already at room temperature, which is important in making pizza. We even got to toss it into the air spinning it as we tossed it. I luckily did not drop mine. Then we were seated and out came the main courses. The Pizza. I have always been a fan of their pizza, and they have the best Pea Soup. I was not dissapponted. The pizza was hot and delicious. There was Pepperoni, Margarhita, and a few others that were loaded with fresh vegetables, and meat.

We finished up with goodie bags, given to us by the staff.

If you haven’t been to California Pizza Kitchen in a while, give it another try. You will be pleasantly surprised. If you have never been there, you are in for a treat. Vsit them today. Say hello to Sean, and his staff, and tell them DineOutWithMike sent you.

Bon Appetite.

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