I love buffalo wings. I like them hot and spicy. I like how the taste of the hot sauce mixes with the blue cheese and pulls your taste buds in different directions.
I also like taking the wing concept to other foods. Buffalo chicken cheesesteaks, for example. My local pizza place makes a decent buffalo chicken pizza that uses blue cheese, hot sauce and chicken with very little tomato sauce and mozzarella. I’ve been known to order one for dinner on Sunday night and happily eat it for lunch over the next couple of days.
So when I met my sister and brother-in-law for dinner last night at the California Pizza Kitchen, I was intrigued by its new buffalo chicken pizza. I ordered it. It’s not bad. It’s not great. It definitely requires some adjustments from the standard version.
Let’s start with the good. The hot sauce tastes great. Tangy, spicy and a little bit of sweet. It actually reminds me of the buffalo marinade from Ken’s Steakhouse, which I enjoy. It didn’t have that chemical taste that a lot of buffalo sauces can have. The restaurant uses gorgonzola and mozzarella. Last night, mine had the perfect blend of the two cheeses.
Moving on to the inoffensive. The chicken is cubed and didn’t taste rubbery. For my personal taste, I don’t always need the chicken part on a buffalo chicken pizza. I’m happy with just the sauce and cheese.
The weird and not-so-good. I’ll skip over the fact that I didn’t get my side of gorgonzola ranch dressing that the menu said came with the pizza because I didn’t really want it anyway. The weirdness of the pizza is that it tries to replicate the wing-eating experience by including celery and carrots. The sauce isn’t hot enough that I needed the veggies to cool down my mouth. Some of the carrots were shredded, which added an okay, innocuous crunch to the meal. Others were quarter-size slices like the celery. You can see the celery chunks in the picture. They didn’t work. The bigger veggies required more chewing and took away from my enjoyment of the pizza. I ended up picking most of them off.
Would I order the pizza again? Yeah. But since I’m not going to tell the CPK cooks how to chop their vegetables, I’ll be telling them to leave them off altogether. I wouldn’t mind a small side of celery and carrots to dip into the missing dressing, but it’s unnecessary.