First Bite: California Pizza Kitchen

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Last night I spied something you don’t often see in midtown restaurants: children. I took my family to the brand new California Pizza Kitchen located in the Firestone Building at 16th and L Streets, and was pleased to find a whole crop of families tucking into their pizzas and sipping mango lemonade. There was also a big crowd of business-types and cuddling couples seated throughout the large dining room, and by the time we left at 8pm the place was almost full. Pretty good, considering that the restaurant had been open just two days.

As soon as we were seated, the kids got their coloring books and crayons and we all admired the sunshine-yellow pizza oven, lofty ceilings and views of the frenetic traffic rushing by on 16th Street. This CPK feels more upscale than the Arden Fair location – absent are the walls of pizza box artwork, primary colors and cafeteria-style buzz – this location features warm earth-toned walls and carpets, a stark black exposed ceiling and tasteful, carefully placed framed pictures. The noise level is lower than what we expected, and, while children are warmly welcomed and made a fuss of, this location is also an appropriate venue for a casual business lunch or adults-only dinner.

The meal took a long time to come out – predictable and forgivable for a brand new restaurant – and the food was great. We gobbled up an old CPK favorite, the Sicilian, a feisty thin-crust pizza loaded with sweet Italian sausage, spicy Capicola ham and salami and topped with fresh oregano and basil; and I relished the kitchen’s velvety spinach and asparagus spaghettini, whose portion was so large I took more than half home with me. This lively restaurant is sure to be a wonderful addition to the midtown dining scene.
1132 16th Street (the corner of 16th and L streets), Sacramento, (916) 930-0706; http://cpk.com