California Pizza Kitchen

Neighborhood: Bellevue
Price Rating: $15-$30 per person
Hours: unknown

Number of reviews: 3
Average rating: 4
595 106th Ave. (Map it!)
Bellevue 98004

Reviewed 2002-05-30 (Reviewer)
California Pizza Kitchen has evolved considerably from its early days as a front runner in the wood fired pizza category. Now a national chain restaurant, you can find a unique variety of wood fired pizzas with various international toppings. There are plenty of options to satisfy any taste found in a large group of people. The food is consistent and fresh enough providing a decent casual dining experience, especially when shopping or going to a movie across the street (it is a good alternative to other chain restaurants available in the area!).<p>In addition, CPK has a variety of salads, pastas and sandwhiches, and a good selection of appetizers for groups. Their Sedona White Corn Soup is especially good and light.

Reviewed 2002-05-24 (Reviewer)
If you don't know what CPK is, it's a chain of moderate restaurants featuring California-ized pizza, pasta and salads that has branches around California and in quite a few major cities around the US.<p>CPK is my favorite casual restaurant for a number of reasons. First, it's entirely non-smoking (which not all eating establishments are, outside of California). Second, it's reliable. If you order brocoli-and-sun-dried-tomato pasta in Bellevue, it's going to look and taste like it does in DC or in LA. People get so attached to their CPK favorites that the menu even includes an encouragement to try something new, with the promise that if it doesn't satisfy, they'll replace it with your usual.<p>Third, their pizza and pasta dishes are a creative, somewhat lighter alternative to the usual standard Italian versions of these dishes full of thick tomato sauce and lots of cheese. As you might expect from California cuisine, fresh veggies are much in evidence. (If you expect traditional pizza, you WILL be disappointed. New York or Chicago pizza, this isn't.) You can see the menu yourself. For example, Kung Pao spaghetti puts vegetables including some HOT dried whole red peppers, and chicken in a kung pao sauce over pasta (no cheese, tomato or cream sauce to be found!); they have a Tricolore Pizza Salad that is a salad on top of a thin pizza crust. Miss crust that you can fold in half? Try a Neapolitan pizza -- my favorite is the Rustica.<p>That brings me to my fourth like. CPK is individual-preference-friendly. Are you a vegetarian who wants the Carne Asada pizza minus the Carne? They'll do it and ask if you'd like to substitute an extra vegetable or two for the meat. Are you a vegan who doesn't eat cheese? They'll make your pizza, pasta or salad without cheese. (Don't knock it until you try it. The White Balsamic Provencale salad is excellent without the cheese, just to name one option.)<p>For restaurants of its type, it's at the top of the heap. Since it doesn't serve fresh Seattle seafood, higher-end wines (it does serve less-expensive table wines by the glass) or have daily specials that let the cooks indulge their creativity, and service is good overall but not perfect, I won't give it 5's for food or service. Then again, there's no other casual restaurant I'd rate as high in these categories as I rate CPK. And it does earn a 5 for ambiance because I *so* appreciate being able to go to a moderate chain restaurant without having to endure frequent happy birthday cheers/songs to diners and excessive themed decor, where coworkers and I can talk without loud interruptions or I can pick up a newspaper at the counter and read while waiting for my food to arrive when dining solo.<p>PS -- Like the food? Check out their cookbooks, sold at the restaurant.<p>(I have no relationship with CPK other than as a satisfied customer.)

Reviewed 2002-05-22 (Reviewer)
I like California kitchen. The food is great. The only place where you can find a lot of variety of thin crusted gourmet pizza. I highly recommend it. I especially like the tomatoe basil pizza.

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