First bites: CiCi’s Pizza


OK, after hearing and seeing the ads for years, and just over a year after writing a blog post questioning the advertising of something that wasn’t available in this state, the curiosity was just too much.

I finally tried CiCi’s Pizza.

I happened to be in L.A. doing a little CD shopping and planned to stop on my way back in Chino Hills and check out the recently opened pizza buffet.

The verdict?

For the price, it can’t be beat, especially now. (More on that later.)

Do they have the best pizza I’ve ever had?

No, but some of their varieties are actually pretty tasty.

When you first walk in the door, you are greeted by several employees. (Who’ll also thank you when you leave.)

They’ll take your order (if you’re dining in, the only option is drink or no drink) and you can start in immediately. The cashier told me her name and said she was there if I needed anything. She’s not the only employee to do so.

That makes for great customer service.

The day I was there, they had two different salads: An Italian mix salad and a BLT salad with ranch dressing. I tried the BLT salad. It was good, but not great.

The only pasta option they had was spirali (which they seemed to use in everything) with marinara. Again, good, but not great. They had a chicken noodle soup (spirali again), which I didn’t try. Also on the pasta table are garlicky thin breadsticks made of pizza dough.

On to the pizza: I tried several, including Buffalo chicken, pepperoni, tomato Alfredo, pepperoni Alfredo, and macaroni (can’t get enough spirali) and cheese.

Macaroni and cheese? I know. But it’s not as odd as you think.

My favorite, however was their “pepperoni flip,” which was similar to a calzone, but not as thick. In fact, it’s more like a quesadilla than a calzone. The dough is that thin. I had several pieces.

In general, the more exotic the pizza, the better it was. I liked the Alfredo pizzas, but didn’t really care for the pepperoni pizza.

The bussers were quick to clear dirty dishes off your table as you went up to get more food. The servers were constantly replacing pizzas as they would get eaten. If there was a pizza you wanted that wasn’t currently on the serving row, they would make it and bring you out a piece when it was ready.

Most of the pizzas were of a medium crust, but occasionally they’d throw in a deep dish pizza to mix things up. They also had a thinner “rustic” crust pizza, which I didn’t try.

They’ve also got dessert — brownies and cinnamon rolls. The cinnamon rolls were pretty tasty: tender dough, a generous coating of cinnamon sugar and yummy icing.

I’m not going to tell you how many I had.

As a bonus, it seemed to be ’80s revival day over the speakers. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Julian Cope’s “World Shut Your Mouth” or the B-52’s “Quiche Lorraine” as background music. Nice!

I haven’t even gotten to the best thing about CiCi’s: the price.

Normally their buffet is $4.99, but right now it’s a dollar less. My total for my lunch? $6.29, including a drink and tax.

That’s gotta be some kind of miserly record.

The Chino Hills CiCi’s is at 4200 Chino Hills Parkway, in the Marketplace Shopping Center. To save yourself from driving around the humongous shopping center (as I did), it’s on the south side of the stand-alone building that butts up against Pipeline Avenue.

If you’ve been, or decide to go, let us know below.