Well, it was bound to happen. DiGiorno started it with their Pizza & Cookies and their Pizza & Wyngz. As we all know by now, once one company comes up with a batshit crazy idea, competitors must keep up with their level of insanity. And thus, California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Crispy Thin Crust Four Cheese Pizza Spinach Artichoke Dip 10 Flatbread Wedges was born.
CPK makes some of the highest-quality frozen pizzas out there. They have a wide variety of flavors that go well beyond your typical Pepperoni or Supreme, thus reflecting their products as gourmet, or as gourmet as you can get in the frozen food aisle. You might be wondering why they would kowtow to such ridiculousness. Just call me Sherlock fucking Holmes, because I did a little sleuthing and found some interesting information.
In early 2010, Kraft sold its North American frozen pizza empire to Nestle for $3.7 billion. This included brands like DiGiorno, Tombstone, and…you guessed it…California Pizza Kitchen. Given this information, it becomes clear that this is not a matter of competitive craziness. It’s more like two siblings sleeping together in the same bed. That bed is made with tomato sauce, cookie dough and spinach artichoke dip. That bed is messy in more than one way.
I feel like Nestle has tried to hoodwink all of us, but I’m not exactly sure how, and I can only pour so much of my outrage into frozen pizza conspiracies. You’d be surprised how thin my outrage is spread. Like CPK’s Bordelaise butter sauce on their Garlic Chicken pizza. Yep, just like that.
One reason I can’t get too mad at CPK is that I love spinach artichoke dip. It’s one of my favoritest foods ever. I’ve never had CPK’s version, but pick a chain restaurant and I’ve probably had theirs. I’m not an expert; I just know my dips is all I’m saying.
The store I found CPKP&ACTCFCPSAD10FW in only had Four Cheese as the pizza portion of the equation, but Marvo has seen it with Sicilian, so there are more flavors out there. CPK’s website is strangely mum about the subject, so you’ll just have to check for yourself.
Let’s tackle the cooking method of CPKP&ACTCFCPSAD10FW. When you’ve got three different items that need to be cooked, things can get tricky. Bear with me as I slog through this mire of directions. It’ll be a pretty dry portion of this review, but if you find yourself giving up halfway through reading this, you may not have the patience necessary to cook the real thing. Consider it a litmus test for your level of interest in making CPK’s Pizza & Appetizer.
Method 1: Appetizer First, As God Intended
Preheat oven to 400. Shove pizza and flatbread into oven, right on the rack. Cook 6 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave dip with plastic cover lifted to vent for 1 to 1:45, depending on your wattage. Stir, recover, microwave 1 more minute. Take flatbread out after the first 6 minutes; cook pizza another 6 minutes while you hurriedly shove dip into your mouth with flatbread wedges so you finish your appetizer before the pizza burns.
Method 2: Appetizer and Pizza at Same Time So You Aren’t Running Around Like Crazy
Same preheat. Cook pizza 6 minutes. Throw in flatbread; cook another 6 minutes. Microwave dip the same way. Eat everything together, turning your appetizer into a side dish. Consider dunking your pizza in the spinach artichoke dip.
Unwrapping CPK Pizza & Appetizer was like pulling apart a Russian nesting doll in reverse. There’s plastic shrink-wrapped around the whole package; after you take that off, you free the upside-down cup of spinach artichoke dip. Underneath is more plastic; once you remove that, you have access to the flatbread, which has a grease-stained disc of white paper separating it from the pizza itself. Unearthing all the components was like conducting an archeological dig, except instead of bones or mummies, you’re digging out an improbable trio of junk food.
At first, I was going to choose Cooking Method 1, but then I realized that from the perspective of taking pictures while the food was fresh and not having to run around frantically, having them at the same time would work much better.
Even then, the whole cooking process felt a little like conducting an orchestra. When I made this comment to my husband, he replied with, “Yes, Kelley, that is exactly what baking, photographing, and reviewing pizza and dip is like. You’re goddamned Leopold.” No respect for the process, that man. Honestly though, without the picture-taking I feel the process would have been much less hectic,
I’ll start with the appetizer, since it is, after all…the appetizer. I thought I might have pulled the flatbread out too early because the pizza looked like it was about to burn but the flatbread didn’t look like it had enough golden brown parts like the box said it should. When I was eating it, however, the bread was a perfect consistency â€“ soft and chewy, with a touch of crispiness on the outside. The flatbread also broke apart easily along the perforations into ten wedges that were the perfect size for dipping.
As for the spinach artichoke dip, it wasn’t quite restaurant quality, but I would consider it above average for a frozen dip. I’ve had TGI Friday’s frozen spinach artichoke dip many times, and I think CPK beats Friday’s dip hands down. I would have liked to have seen larger artichoke pieces, but other than that, it was creamy, cheesy, garlicky, and frankly more than I expected out of a frozen dip.
Unfortunately, the container was rather small. I ate all the dip in one sitting, and while I do tend to pile it on when I’m dipping, in this instance I attempted to eat like a normal human being and still wound up finishing it off after only six and a quarter wedges. My leftover wedges sat on the plate, brokenhearted, with no purpose left in life. They wanted more dip, and so did my mouth.
CPK’s Four Cheese frozen pizza is not a new product, but I’ve never had it, so it was new to me. Again, I thought I’d burned it, but it came out perfectly cooked, with good browning on the cheese. CPK really did get the cooking times right.
They got the cheese right, too. I’m not an easy person to impress when it comes to cheese pizza; I’m usually all about the toppings and consider cheese pizza to be for boring people who sit in the corner at parties, abstaining from booze and complaining about there being too much smoke in the room.
CPK really impressed me with their Four Cheese, however. And we’re even talking about a frozen pizza. The addition of fontina and gouda really added depth to the flavor and gave the pizza different levels of cheesy goodness. There was just the right amount of tomato sauce to compliment the cheeses, too. I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the cheese and felt it really could stand on its own.
Is this whole “pizza plus appetizer/side/desert” premise propagated by Nestle silly? Sure. But I really enjoyed California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Crispy Thin Crust Four Cheese Pizza Spinach Artichoke Dip 10 Flatbread Wedges. The dip was delicious, the flatbread a perfect vessel for it, and the cheese pizza surprised me with its depth of flavor. I’ll probably never again cook pizza and cookies together, but I can see myself indulging in this bread, dip and pie trio again and again.
Speaking of DiGiorno, where’s the third player in Nestle’s frozen pizza empire in all this? I’m talking to you, Tombstone. You may be a little more for the budget-minded pizza buyers, but there’s no reason you can’t get in on this game. We’ve already covered, appetizers, sides and desserts, but what about beverages? My suggestion: dehydrated beer packets. Get on it!
(Nutrition Facts â€“ Four Cheese Pizza – 1/3 pizza â€“ 320 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 16 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 0% vitamin C, 35% calcium and 10% iron. Spinach Artichoke Dip and Flatbread Wedges â€“ 3 flatbread wedges + 2 tablespoons dip â€“ 130 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 320 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 6% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 8% calcium and 4% iron.)
Item: California Pizza Kitchen Pizza & Appetizer Crispy Thin Crust Four Cheese Pizza Spinach Artichoke Dip 10 Flatbread Wedges
Size: 1 pizza; 3.9 ounces dip; 10 flatbread wedges
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Cooking times just right. Flatbread just the right texture. Composing a junk food orchestra. Spinach artichoke dip was creamy and delicious. Overdipping. Cheese pizza had good depth of cheesy flavor.
Cons: Not enough dip. Incestuous products from sneaky megacompanies. Not enough artichoke chunks in dip. Cooking takes a lot of planning. Heartbroken unused flatbread wedges.