CPK, Pieology and Donatos riff on pizza

Taste Tracker: Cocktail creativity at Firebirds and BJ’s; Starbucks and Dutch Bros go for the pink; Valentine sweets at MOD Pizza, Tous les Jours and Yogurtland; and still time for Super Bowl at Sugarfire.
Photos courtesy of the brands

This is the busiest time of February in the restaurant world, with both Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day around the corner. There’s plenty of food and drink to fit those occasions, but some operators are looking ahead and launching seasonal menus or putting spins on more evergreen items.

California Pizza Kitchen gives its latest pie a Korean twist. The Korean BBQ Steak Pizza is topped with charred steak, Korean barbecue sauce, mozzarella, scallions, shaved Napa cabbage, red onions and toasted sesame seeds, then drizzled with Sriracha-lime sauce. A Miso Shrimp Salad also joins the seasonal lineup.

Guests are invited to “Craft Your Own Calzone” at Pieology, personalizing their creation with up to five toppings. Each comes accompanied by a choice of a side sauce, and through March 19, loyalty members who purchase a customized calzone can unlock perks all year long. Meanwhile, Donatos debuted two boldly flavored pull-apart cheese breads: Mariachi and Italian Cheese. The former is topped with provolone, bacon, jalapeños and a dash of mariachi spice, while the Italian combines Asiago and provolone cheeses with Roma tomatoes and green olives.

The seasonal winter menu launched at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, with a cotton candy cocktail the highlight on the drinks side. Chef’s Features on the food side include a Shaved Roast Beef Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Crab Cake Salad, Honey Garlic Glazed Grilled Salmon, Grilled Scallops with Champagne butter sauce and a Caramel Pecan Bread Pudding.

Along with its signature Pizookie gussied up for Valentine’s Day with Ghirardelli chocolate chunks, strawberries and strawberry puree, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse is shaking up two festive cocktails. There’s a new Mango Strawberry Mimosa and the fan-favorite Strawberry Rose Lemon Drop.

Starbuck’s is also going pink with its Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Crème Frappuccino. It’s an indulgent blend of ice, milk, strawberry puree and rich java chips, layered on top of swirls of strawberry puree then topped with whipped cream. Also new on the menu is the Chocolate Hazelnut Cookie Cold Brew. Over at Dutch Bros, sweethearts can grab a Dutch Luv Latte or Dutch Luv Frost, both in frosted sugar cookie flavor crowned with pink soft top. The Dutch Luv Rebel is a blended energy drink infused with berry flavor.

There are more sweets in store at Tous Les Jours, with its limited-time collection of over a dozen treats. Guests can choose from signature cakes like Pink Velvet, Sweetheart, Strawberry Jasmine and Mini Red Velvet, as well as single-serving desserts, such as Choco Dipped Madeleines and various éclairs.

Red Velvet No Name Cake is MOD Pizza’s valentine to customers, but it’s available all the way until May 14. It’s composed of a red velvet cake with cream cheese filling topped with heart-shaped sprinkles. And Yogurtland uses sour gummy hearts to top its seasonal Chocolate Covered Strawberry frozen yogurt flavor. Joining it this February is a Chocolate Hazelnut Lava Cake flavor.

Seafood is also in the spotlight, as the days draw closer to Lent. Taziki’s is offering Grilled Fish with Homemade Caper-Dill Sauce. It’s available as a platter or sandwich. For customers not giving up sweets for Lent, Taziki’s put a White Chocolate Lemon Cookie on the menu, too. Shrimp lovers can head to Qdoba; Citrus Lime Shrimp is back by popular demand.

And Super Bowl party procrastinators can still order crowd-pleasing shareables from Sugarfire Smokehouse. There’s Hot Route (smoked fried chicken wings with a selection of sauces); In The Pocket (Rangoons filled with pulled rib, scallion and cream accompanied by sweet and sour sauce); Special Teams (creamy brisket dip served with tortilla chips); and Blitz (slow-smoked burnt ends.)

See February’s specials in action with this video.



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