Whenever we think about American pizzas first names that come to our minds are Dominos and Pizza Hut, which dotted the entire nation within a very short span of time. The Indian teenagers and middle class population developed a sudden liking for their Hand Tossed Crusts.
A hand tossed crust is a crust in which the pizza dough is stretched out by tossing it using your hands. The dough is first pre-stretched working the dough out into a bit of a larger diameter circle by just moving your fists up and down. The most interesting part is when it’s tossed up in the air. The better the spin, the more it will stretch. These American franchise outlets gained more popularity when they started churning out Indianized pizzas with amalgamation of flavours like Paneer Makhani or Chicken Tikka. Though they provided the option but neither promoted nor claimed to be the experts in Italian Thin Crust Pizzas. A thin crust pizza is prepared using a small ball of dough which is flattened using a rolling pin. It is until recently that authentic versions of thin crust pizza have made a way into the India’s esp. Delhi’s food scene.
We went to try the Mexican food festival ‘Mexifornia’ at California Pizza Kitchen (CPK). CPK currently has 5 outlets in India that enjoy a good footfall owing to their selection of good location. The one in Gurgaon is located at Gurgaon’s hottest food destination ‘Cyber Hub’. The interiors are casual, chic and inviting. The serving staff is attentive and does its job well. I was really keen to try the food as I have never before tried the fusion of Mexican and American-Italian cuisine. The best part about pizzas is that they, being so flexible, can be woven with the cuisine of any origin to create a beautiful amalgamation of flavours. I was surprised to check out their menu as their offerings went much beyond pizzas.
We started with tequila based cocktails Watermelon Margarita and Pineapple & Passion Fruit Margarita. Both were nicely prepared. They were prepared using fresh fruits and were neither too sweet nor too bitter. We also tried the mocktail Mango Tango which was just perfect, which is evident from the fact that everyone on our table ordered it after finishing their first round of drinks. Apart from the mango juice it also contained orange juice, passion fruit syrup and lime juice which gave a nice kick to it.
In the Appetizers we were served Corn and Jalapeno Empanadas and Chicken Tomatillo Chille. Corn and Jalapeno Empanadas were tasty but their size could have been bigger to allow more filling. The fresh Salsa served with it was excellent. It was the tastiest I’ve ever had with the right amount of chilli and sweetness. Accompanying Sour Cream was good too. Chicken Tomatillo Chilli was basically chicken strips tossed with garlic, onions and coloured peppers in Mexican green chilli sauce. It tasted nice and was healthy at the same time. It was served on a bed of veggies and nachos, and felt more like a salad.
After that we tried the chicken and paneer versions of Crispy Tortilla Salad. The chicken and the paneer used in the salad were deep fried. The salad consisted of three varieties of lettuce. The overall taste of the salad was good but a particular variety of lettuce made it bitter. The cherry tomatoes and Ranchito dressing gave the salad a tangy twist.
Then we were served four varieties of spicy Mexican pizzas. Mexican Habanero Pizza was the least spicy of the lot. It had paneer, white mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and habanero chilli. It was made on hand tossed crust and all the toppings gelled perfectly with each other. Next we tried Chicken Asada Pizza. Again it was made in hand tossed crust and instead of the tomato based sauce, Mexican green chilli sauce was used, which raised the temperature of the pizza. The toppings consisted of sliced chicken with cilantro pesto and roasted peppers topped with cheddar and fontina cheese. We all liked the way it tingled our tastebuds. The best was yet to come.
Everyone’s favourite was Mexican Veggie Pizza. The toppings were simply mindblowing. It was a thin crust pizza spread with spicy bean sauce, with generous toppings of onions, colored peppers, baby corns and jalapenos. It was loaded with red chilli powder. This pizza was the spiciest of the lot and everyone preferred to keep their mocktails handy. The last pizza we tried was New Mexico Pizza. It was again thin crust pizza spread with Ranchito sauce, topped with Mozarella cheese, chipotle chicken, sliced red onion and New Mexico green chilli. It was again too spicy but I really liked the flavour of the green chillis.
Both the Pastas- Fettucceine Heidi and the Cheesy Chimichurri Penne were really good. The penne deserves a special mention as the combination of cheese sauce, garlic and chimichurri sauce made it extremely flavourful. We had already given full marks to the vastness of its menu. We never knew that two more dishes awaited us- California Style Chimichanga and New Mexico Basa Fish in Banana Leaf. The chimichanga was like a huge spring roll with a filling of rice and paneer. It tasted a bit bland but went well with the tomato salsa served with it. I’m not a big fan of Basa fish and find it tasteless. But the Basa served here was prepared really well and the herbs it was marinated in gave it a really nice flavour.
At last we were served desserts and both were brilliant. Mexican Banana Caramel Flan was simply mindblowing and the flavours of all the ingredients were perfectly balanced. Trio of Chocolate Mousse was also very good. It had three different layers made of white, milk and dark chocolates. The cup it was served in was also made of chocolate. Surprisingly both the desserts were not too sweet.
The management and the chef of CPK are doing a good job by being dynamic and experimenting with tastes. It also helps retain the interest of people, who are always in the lookout for trying something new.
The Mexifornia festival is on till 21st June and is definitely recommended.
California Pizza Kitchen
11, Cyber Hub,
DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon
Meal for Two – 1500(approx)
Disclaimer – This review was done on an invitation from the establishment. Views expressed in the review is entirely ours and without any bias. Pictures of the dishes are not the standard portions, they are sample portions.