California Pizza Kitchen is quickly turning into the Cheesecake Factory of pizza-based restaurants, if that makes little to no sense at all. Whatever. It made more sense than the entirety of Infinite Jest, which says a lot. With a menu of over 100 items, including appetizers and small bites, the difference between which I cannot determine, and a gazillion pizzas, the total number of which amounts to more teeth than in Robert Pattinson's mouth, you'd think they'd step out of the box for their frozen counterpart, the perpetual ugly stepsister to the restaurant glory, and create a new, different package deal, perhaps avocado club egg rolls with dipping sauce accompanied by a roasted artichoke and spinach pizza, or sesame ginger chicken dumplings with a four seasons pizza, but no, they chose Sicilian pizza and spinach and artichoke dip with flatbread. Yawn. Wake me up when the guy who makes this at home to save time getting laid instead of taking his date out asks her to go halfsies on the cost from the grocery store.
Anyway, at least the food looked decent, looked being the operative term here. Despite my initial disappointment with the selection- CPK's guacamole is one of the best I've ever had, I persevered and started cooking. The cooking process was more complicated than a LEGO instruction book, forcing me to keep the box out and take up half of my cooking space. While cooking this, I noticed that almost everything required either lifting or tearing molten hot foodstuffs with the aid of my bare hands, a fate I neither requested nor deserved.
From a menu-based point of view, the pairings here are kind of strange. For starters, the spinach and artichoke with flatbread combo isn't actually on the menu- the flatbread comes with hummus dip and the artichoke dip comes with chips, but frozen chips would have been pretty gross. Point justified. And the Sicilian pizza doesn't seem to exist, its closest relative on the food chain in the form of the Meat Craver's, the former being a pared down version with less meat. The flatbread was popped in the oven along with the pizza and came out cooked to perfection. The pizza looked really good, littered with spices and herbs and powders and sprinkled with a pretty decent meat topping with visible bacon chunks, large slices of salami, and sausage.
And yet, it had no flavor. The pizza, which was lukewarm by the time it and the accoutrements were whisked to the table, was thick and bland, not unlike a pompous ex of mine. The only indication of meat on the pizza was a slight anise flavor from the sausage, and when the sausage had to share space with the weaksauce-inspired ham and salami, there was little room for it to shine. Neither of us felt inclined to eat more than a slice, and even then, it was like pulling teeth. Robert Pattinson's unicorn teeth. I zoned my sorrows into the flatbread, which was oddly enough, more soft and toothsome than the pizza crust. There was a lot of spinach artichoke dip, and although it was somewhat pureed together into a kid-friendly or Midwesterner-friendly sauce, it was tasty and garlicky and allowed me to occupy my mouth outside of criticizing the pizza.
If going to CPK and taking your date to dinner gets you laid at the end of the night, this boxed set is like falling asleep in front of your computer with your dick in your hand and waking up to photos of your semi-hot second cousin's pool party on Facebook. Come on, man, she's 13. I'd have been happier if this came with a few double vodka Caribbean Sunset Sangria so I could drink and forget about this depressing pizza. Alcoholism has surprisingly practical benefits, kids!