CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN – Taking Italian food seriously like Italians do

California Pizza Kitchen – Taking Italian food seriously like Italians do

“Italian food is all about ingredients, and it’s not fussy and it’s not fancy.”~Woflgang Puck~

At Alabang Town Center, there is a wide array of Italian restaurants which you can choose from, such as Italiannis, Brooklyn Pizza, Amici, Cibo to name a few. When one I frequented. California Pizza Kitchen. It has been there as long as I can remember. I even have a photo with a friend at CPK more than 10 years ago.

So what’s the secret of a place to keep on thriving and remain strong despite of the numerous newly-constructed restaurants which offers the same products like they do.

Yes, CPK originated in the USA, created and owned by Americans, who put some tweaks on this traditional Italian dish and really took it seriously.

I think they do not stop researching for trends, they update their menu and they give out promotions during occasion constantly.

Their nachos now are colored when more than 10 years ago it’s just the usual yellow orange-colored chips. The ingredients they used are fresh and even the condiments are always updated, when it’s just Tabasco in the past years, they sense the demands of picky eaters and Sriracha or Cholulas are always ready on their tables.

Even the logo speaks for a thousand descriptions bringing you to this state where the legendary palm trees abound among other famous trees in California, from there to almost every part of the globe including the Philippines. =)

cpk logo
From 1985 to 2012 to present. =)

And of course not to forget mentioning the training they provide to their people extensive enough to keep customers coming. They keep this ROCK principle (rock philosophy: respect, opportunity, communication, kindness). Allowing their people to be inspired while at work.

So these are some of what they have in their menus:

I am not so much a fan of barbecue flavored stuff, but this hand-tossed pizza had me craving for more. I am used to pepperonis, so this one is new to me, and I really liked it. It is flavorful but not tiring and its’ spiciness is something I can tolerate. I’ve shared before I am not into spicy food, but this one is okay with me. =)

bbq pizza

The usual item that we asked to “advance call” is the nachos, we had this dip I so love, I wanted to do it at home. It’s their spinach artichoke dip, healthy and fun to eat too.

 

We tried one of the pastas too, vegetable primavera, which is also a healthy option.

veggie pasta

The flat bread with four cheese dip: hearth-baked mozzarella, queso quesadilla, smoked Gouda and Velveeta is so addicting.

4 cheese

I learned from the Restaurant Manager that Velveeta is a brand name compared to an American cheese, which texture is softer and smoother than a processed cheese. It is supposed to be consumed in moderation due to its’ high sodium content and preservatives.

While Gouda cheese is all natural from cow’s milk. Aside from the calories it’ll add to your diet, and fats, it’ll give you a little amount of calcium too. So, not bad.

The menu says “green mango salad” though I had yellow mangoes in it and I didn’t bother to contest it, it tasted really good, crunchy, fresh, a little bit funky like I’m a veggie lover all my life remember?

mango salad
Anti-oxidants. =)

So if you happen to visit Alabang Town Center and loves Italian food, you will have a lot of choices, and I’d like to personally recommend that CPK would be one of them. Happy eating!

You can find them in the following addresses:

  1. Alabang Town Center
  2. Greenbelt 5
  3. Bonifacio High Street
  4. Shangri-la Plaza Mall
  5. Century City Mall
  6. Promenade Mall
  7. SM Mall of Asia

You can also find them from time to time, offering promotions at Metrodeal (http://www.metrodeal.com/) if you want to enjoy great deals.

 

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LA MARIPILI – A classic treat reinvented…

La Maripili – A classic treat reinvented..

Churros are a common goodies during my teenage years. Over and above, It is  my best friend’s favorite. We will save our money just to go to Greenbelt, Makati (our school is in Manila) and guzzle with our portions which came with hot chocolate. It came from a teensy Spanish restaurant – Dulcinea. Oftentimes, we leave with take out bags of goodies containing beehives, eclairs, lemon squares, etc and we sometimes couldn’t wait and munch on them while still in the car.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about churros. Several establishments have endorsed it as one of their offerings and I even went all the way to Manila just to try the one from Bay leaf hotel, at Cioccolata.

Some low-end churros are baked and are not deep fried also find their way in the market. And even if the latter is not that good to our health, I still prefer it than those that are baked. I missed the goodness in its’ crunch I guess.

Just recently, there’s a new brand endorsing a new version which if I can call them churros for “the hungry ones”. Because it is over-sized and longer like 4x more than that of the usual that we used to have from Dulcinea more than 20 years ago. Back then, we were provided with a small ceramic pot and we will pour the choco syrup in a separate cup and there we dip our churros as we pleased.

Now, it comes in paper cups and is measured and served with just an ample quantity.

Bloggers like me would avoid as much as possible giving derogatory remarks whenever we didn’t like a recently discovered place(s) much so the service rendered by attendants. It is popular probably because of networking sights, bloggers, a good marketing arm and probably if the owner is a celebrity. The product seems to be over-rated.

This frustration was nullified by the most recent churros brand that I accidentally discovered from my best friend’s daughter’s her Instagram posts. Her mom happens to be my college BFF whose favorite is churros (and up to now, she will still ask us to visit Dulcinea from time to time). And I was the one who preferred eclairs. So it’s like me saying: “Like mother, like daughter”.

La Maripili is in Alabang. Almost across Molito and considered as an annex of ATC which also happens to be my rendevouz while I was still a student.

Its’ facade is all white, beckoning with its French door and floor to ceiling glass windows. You can’t help but have your photos taken in front of it.

la-6
Come on, let’s have some churros! =)

And as we enter, the huge mirror on one wall is with “millennial” phrasings and words about churros, food & beverage in general and some inspirational quotes. I must say that aside from the transparent kitchen, that mirror is the focal point of the place.

la-2
Nice to have greens above it..
la-3
Churros! =)
la-1
Focal point..

Their menu is user-friendly ( unlike the other brand I talked about), the attendants seem to be with excitement each time a guest arrives and were accommodating. Of course, they up-sell, which I think is part of their spiels. And it didn’t take us long to get our orders. #quickservice

Anything but caramel..
Anything but caramel..

It is a bit pricey though it is given that most establishments in Alabang town center caters to the medium/high end crowd.

While it’s worth it because their churros brought me back to memory lane  – college days.

Just the right size..=)
Just the right size..=)

It is deep fried but they make it a point to drain them well. The chocolate dip is so thick that it looked like almost melted chocolate bars.

Very thick choco syrup..
Very thick choco syrup..
Photo courtesy of my friend Beth..
Photo courtesy of my friend Beth..

As part of innovating, they have variants which come with fillings in different flavors. we tried the one with caramel. What else?

la-8
With Ms. Caramel! =)

As OC (obsessive/compulsive) as I can get, I was able to check the frying station and it surprised me to see that the oil is clean and almost transparent.

Nice!
Nice!

Their specialty, their chosen product to reach their target market and add the place ideal for some cozy talk and/or bonding with family and friends and their trained roster. I have to say that it is worth a commendation. Till our next cravings. =)

La Maripili Churreria...(--,)
La Maripili Churreria…    (–,)

Feel at home at Mary Grace Cafe

Feel at home at Mary Grace Cafe

“It’s hard to find this kind of home at this price anywhere in the city.” -Elizabeth Wood- 

Mary Grace is that type of restaurant that is so rustic and homey. It reminds me of a souvenir shop back in college days: Papemelroti. Mary Grace is the restaurant version.

I have first frequented their branch in Alabang. Their specialty are home-made goodies. Like I said before, ATC is one of my second homes. Later, they put up one in Serendra, a lot bigger and daintier. They have more than 10 branches so far.

What I like most about them are as follows:

*The way they encourage their clients to write a missive or two and keep them under the glass top of their dining tables. It was fun reading them.

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So thoughtful!

My friend’s daughter wrote them one and she’s so sweet telling them how she love their cakes.. It is interactive and very positive.

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Missives…

*The slices of lemons in their house water pitchers

*The inspirational quotes they mount on their walls

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Over good friends…

*Country-side knick knacks that creates a homey feel

*And my personal favorite:combination of pasta carbonara and apple pie.

carbonara

apple pie
And this equally tasty apple pie…=) I especially love the crumbs..

I used to buy “to go” apple pies in their kiosk at Glorietta Mall though if dining in, I get my pasta in white sauce ( with unlimited toppings of parmesan cheese much more than I wish).

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Pasta Carbonara..

Through the years, it became a habit. My college buddies would not miss the cheese rolls (It is so soft to the bite, and one of my friends consume it in less than a minute!Lol!) and lemon bars too.

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Courtesy of: CafeMaryGrace/photos/pb.111676555513146.-2207520000.1421420280./980376605309799/?type=3&theater

I’d still go for my apple pies! (–,) It reminded me of “Troubles”, a small restaurant that we go to at University mall. I was college then. Same friends. It was definitely a favorite.

Try the “To die for” chocolate truffle cake!

mary grace
Chocolate truffle cake!

While I am at Mary Grace. I kept on smiling. I am reminded of so many beautiful thoughts. Nope, I’m not inches away to being crazy to smile at nothing. It is that feeling of contentment. As I’ve said before. Good food, good ambiance with good friends are one of life’s treasures. It makes you feel grateful that you are living a sweet life.

I also find their comfort rooms pretty and very comforting too. It reminds me of Cafe Juanita. =)

Mary Grace will always be one of my favorite restaurants even if there are numerous new ones that are “must trys” too, it’s like a habit that’s so hard to break.

ensaimada 2

ensaimada

ensaimada
And the famous mamon! =)
mary grace
Bread & soup: one of my favorites.

Not only it’ll give you comfort food but comfort while dining at the same time. =)

P.S.
It reminds me of an old friendship too. My highschool bestfriends’ little sisters’ name is Mary Grace. We call her “Gigi”. The thoughts of these two girls draws a smile on my face too.