Westwood Village food notes: Panda Express; Giannoni’s Pizza

February 7, 2013 at 3:27 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle restaurants | 59 Comments

Two food notes from West Seattle’s lone shopping mall:

PANDA EXPRESS? Checking the city building/remodeling permit files, we discovered that an application was filed today citing Panda Express as the company that’s remodeling the south side of what had been Hollywood Video, immediately south of Desert Sun Tanning. As you may know, it’s a nationwide Chinese food chain – nearest outlet is in Burien. We have a message out to Panda Express corporate HQ; we also checked with Westwood Village management, which tells us they’re waiting for a news release to be drafted before commenting on forthcoming tenants.

NATIONAL NOD FOR GIANNONI’S PIZZA: As noted in the WSB Forums – whose members declared it an informal taste-test winner almost five years ago – Westwood Village’s homegrown Giannoni’s Pizzeria has just gotten a prestigious message, on New York Magazine‘s food website. They listed 101 top pizza restaurants coast to coast, and included Giannoni’s!


  1. Great news on Panda and congratulations to Giannoni’s!

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 3:32 pm February 7, 2013 #

  2. Congratulations Giannoni’s! They truly have great pizza and salads so great to get the recognition they deserve! They are a hidden gem in West Seattle. In my opinion, they would only be better if they served beer and wine but you can always take it to go. And they have Full Tilt ice cream!

    Comment by Anna Eileen — 3:38 pm February 7, 2013 #

  3. I was so hoping for a local food eatery, not a chain…. I am happy there are some jobs coming to the area, but Panda is not overly exciting to me.

    Comment by coffee — 4:00 pm February 7, 2013 #

  4. Will have to try Giannoni’s I haven’t tried it yet.

    Panda Express won’t be on my list of dining locations, but it’s better than an empty building….

    Comment by Mark — 4:22 pm February 7, 2013 #

  5. The Burien Panda Express’ rice is not very good. It always seems hard and kind of crunchy (my wife likes it, that is the only reason I’ve gone). Ironic for an Asian inspired restaraunt to not be able to cook very well what is considered to be a staple in Asian food.

    Comment by Eric — 4:45 pm February 7, 2013 #

  6. Panda Express, ugh. :-(
    Giannoni’s, yay! :-)

    Comment by pigeonmom — 4:47 pm February 7, 2013 #

  7. Well Panda Express should satisfy everyone’s hunger for quality asian food cooked with care.

    Comment by Gary — 4:58 pm February 7, 2013 #

  8. Congratulations to Giannoni’s – great pizza and great people!

    Comment by Anita — 5:03 pm February 7, 2013 #

  9. Looks like I’ll still be going to the ID for Chinese.

    Comment by datamuse — 5:11 pm February 7, 2013 #

  10. It’s interesting to see Giannoni’s get credit for executing a high standard of New York style pizza when they’ve said all along that their goal really hadn’t been to replicate the NYC pizza but instead San Francisco (North Beach) pizza.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 5:23 pm February 7, 2013 #

  11. This is not chines food. It is like jack in the box making phillopino food. I would and do go up into white center for good asian food.

    Comment by boy — 5:49 pm February 7, 2013 #

  12. mmmmmm, fresh Panda.

    Comment by smokeycretin9 — 6:02 pm February 7, 2013 #

  13. Panda Express is gross. It’s unfortunate because I really do think Westwood needs a big chain to come in and solidify the place. Something like a Red Robin or Keg. I’m not a big fan of those places, but they do fit in well with the big box stores. Probably why I’ve never been to Giononni’s. Independent restaurants in malls don’t compute in my brain.

    Comment by villagegreen — 6:04 pm February 7, 2013 #

  14. Agree with villagegreen, man a Red Robin would be amaaazing here. Those fries..

    Comment by Sara — 6:32 pm February 7, 2013 #

  15. There used to be a Keg in Westwood Village, years ago. It was where the Rite Aid is now.
    Wasn’t bad, but if I want steak I go to Jak’s.

    Comment by datamuse — 6:49 pm February 7, 2013 #

  16. Keg was already there a long time ago, back when Westwood was run down. It was where Rite-Aid is. I guess it didn’t work out

    Comment by Eric — 6:52 pm February 7, 2013 #

  17. The China Express in the Thriftway store is much better than Panda Express

    Comment by Eric — 6:53 pm February 7, 2013 #

  18. Red baron! Thats where we went for steak. Used to be across from the ernst. Anyone remember?

    Comment by julie — 7:17 pm February 7, 2013 #

  19. Panda Express is the McDonald’s of Chinese food… Though I gotta admit I eat at both places 3 or 4 times a year :-)

    Comment by Twobottles — 8:00 pm February 7, 2013 #

  20. I agree, the Thriftway Chinese food is actually really good. I’ve seen Panda Express in Burien and Southcenter before but have never tried it. Probably will though now that there will be one closer.

    Comment by Nick — 8:06 pm February 7, 2013 #

  21. Maybe we can petition Snappy Dragon to open a place there instead?!! Yay Donna!

    Comment by Amanda — 8:12 pm February 7, 2013 #

  22. There was a Keg at Westwood, more than 15 years ago I think.

    Comment by homesweethome — 8:14 pm February 7, 2013 #

  23. Red Robin!!!!! Please !!!

    Comment by A — 8:30 pm February 7, 2013 #

  24. Y’know what I miss about Westwood? Liquidation World. That place was awesome.

    Comment by datamuse — 8:37 pm February 7, 2013 #

  25. RED ROBIN!!!!!!

    Comment by WSMama3 — 8:47 pm February 7, 2013 #

  26. Red Robin?? When we have Zippy’s?

    Comment by Amanda — 8:50 pm February 7, 2013 #

  27. Good job to Giannoni’s. As a former New Yorker, I agree they get it darn near perfect. Only better pizza in WS is Abbondanza, but it really depends where I am when I want some.

    Comment by Mike Flynn — 9:39 pm February 7, 2013 #

  28. Heck ya datamuse! The old Ernst!

    Comment by AlexDex — 9:46 pm February 7, 2013 #

  29. Ezell’s chicken

    Comment by zip line — 9:49 pm February 7, 2013 #

  30. I like fast food Chinese. It isn’t all that great but far better than McD’s. And in reality that is its only competition. There are better places I can go but if I only got 5 minutes Panda is a good place.

    Comment by eric1 — 10:29 pm February 7, 2013 #

  31. Red Robin is yuuuck! Grease city!

    Comment by helridge — 10:34 pm February 7, 2013 #

  32. Yes to Giannonis!!! Being from NY they have the best pepperoni pie!

    Comment by William — 12:30 am February 8, 2013 #

  33. @ Julie –

    I vaguely remember Red Baron. Wasn’t it located roughly where the Chase bank is now?

    Comment by Ken — 12:42 am February 8, 2013 #

  34. As a transplant from the east coast which in my opinion has some of the best pizza in the country, I do agree that local chains Giannoni and Pagliacci’s are the closest in taste. Just like relatives from Southern Cal (in n out country) saying Zippy’s and Burgermaster come the closest to the California burgers. (Btw, they thought Dick’s was terrible). Oh, and I welcome Panda Express to the neighborhood.

    Comment by strike em out kinney — 12:46 am February 8, 2013 #

  35. Very disappointed to hear that a Panda Express is going in–it’s just not good Chinese food with its bland and salty sauces. Oh well. I’ve never been to Giannoni’s. I’m not a huge pizza fan, and there’s already so many pizza joints in West Seattle. I always keep hoping for something that’s truly different to open up instead of a different version of the “same old, same old.” I remember the The Keg, but was not sorry to see it to close, because I never got a decent steak at any of their restaurants. I did like The Red Baron. For some reason full service restaurants (with breakfast, lunch, and dinner) have never done well at Westwood Village.

    Comment by Ray West — 3:45 am February 8, 2013 #

  36. I will never patronize Panda Express. The Tucson location hired mostly illegal immigrants and then when they were caught by ICE, they locked them in the store to trap and detain. And their food is terrible junk.

    Comment by newnative — 4:36 am February 8, 2013 #

  37. I don’t think good Chinese food exists in Seattle, seriously, especially for vegetarians. But it was sure worse when I was growing up here. Panda Express would have been an improvement in the 70s.
    We now have good reason to try Giannoni’s, though!
    I think before the Rite Aid was a Keg, it was a big huge Sea Galley.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 7:05 am February 8, 2013 #

  38. Pickwick Tavern! Please come back!


    Ken, yeah, Red Baron was where Chase now is. Dead-on the same spot IIRC, if not, then a little more toward Target.


    Kayliegh, thanks for mentioning Sea Galley. Last evening as I was reading over this, I had a bit of a fleeting, vague, recollection that there had been another restaurant there before The Keg.



    Comment by miws — 7:19 am February 8, 2013 #

  39. Fast food, no thanks. Donna and team, HOORAY!

    Comment by Hey lady — 7:20 am February 8, 2013 #

  40. Congrats to Gianonni’s! I think the Keg moved out about 12 years ago. I’ve lived in WS 16 years and clearly remember it being there. One place I really miss is Johnny’s Urban Americana, long since replaced with condos…..

    Comment by Brontosaurus — 7:49 am February 8, 2013 #

  41. YAY for Giannoni’s!! I agree-truly a hidden gem!
    Cjbofoli, what I have heard the owner say is that they are from California and are doing what they had there, which WAS a copy of East Coast pizza, as California copies everything East Coast!!!! I’ve spent time in New York and definitely agree- this pizza stands up! Way to go GP team!!!!

    Comment by Mary — 7:56 am February 8, 2013 #

  42. Red Baron-1970′s, southwest corner, Target area.
    Would stop in after going to Longacres.

    Comment by let them swim — 8:13 am February 8, 2013 #

  43. I’ve eaten at Panda express enjoyed the food but always pay a price the next day. It has way too much salt and other chemicals that make me swell up like a balloon the next day. I look for places that will fix my food the way I need it. But I agree it’s nice to have the space occupied and I’m sure many people will enjoy eating there.

    Comment by Norma — 9:21 am February 8, 2013 #

  44. We frequented Giannoni’s a bunch when it first opened and I’ll agree they make a decent pie. But then came Proletariat in White Center and we’ve never looked back. If you’re a Giannoni’s fan, I highly suggest you try Proletariat. It is the true award winner in my book.

    Comment by pro-Prole — 10:11 am February 8, 2013 #

  45. My only issue with Panda Express has always been not enough Panda on the menu.

    Comment by wakeflood — 10:20 am February 8, 2013 #

  46. True dat, Norma. I don’t know if they have a “No MSG” policy there but man, even if they did, there’s enough sodium in their stuff to induce a stroke.

    Sure wish we could get a healthier Asian food option. Although I frequent the Toshi’s Teriyaki in WWV and enjoy it. Glad they offer brown rice!

    Comment by wakeflood — 10:26 am February 8, 2013 #

  47. Kayleigh try out bamboo garden on Roy st. All vegetarian and very very good (coming from an avowed carnivore)

    Comment by Jeff — 10:42 am February 8, 2013 #

  48. One of my favorite things about Giannoni’s (besides their kick-ass pizza) is that they sell it by the slice. When I eat pizza, I’m generally alone and want no more than 2 slices, and it surprised me how few places actually do that here. (It’s the norm in NYC.)

    Comment by Sue — 12:04 pm February 8, 2013 #

  49. Second that thought, Jeff. I remember a number of years back when I had some work folks coming in from Israel and was looking for a nice kosher restaurant. I hadn’t known about BG but thought we’d give it a try. Wasn’t sure if they’d be up for it as they were carnivores too.

    Kosher, Vegetarian Asian POW! My business partners LOVED it. Had a faux version of every meat/fish we could ask for and all of it rocked. Those guys raved for days.

    Comment by Wakeflood — 12:12 pm February 8, 2013 #

  50. Can’t resist adding this.

    Comment by gina — 12:20 pm February 8, 2013 #

  51. NO, we need Chang’s Mongolian Grill closest one is in Renton by the airport

    Comment by nemobeansmom — 4:35 pm February 8, 2013 #

  52. I don’t think very many people regard Panda Express as a “good” Chinese restaurant. But given the gray, soggy, gelatinous, flavorless mass of supposedly edible matter that many of the existing West Seattle Chinese restaurants serve (all those I’ve tried, anyway), Panda is almost fine dining by comparison.

    Comment by TacoBurritoSpeedo — 5:30 pm February 8, 2013 #

  53. Well said TacoBurritoSpeedo. My next hope is Seattle gets a Tat’s Deli or Gorditos in the neighborhood.

    Lot of vitriolic hate on here for Panda and other so called fast food. For a town that prides itself on “tolerance”, I see quite a bit of intolerance on the Blog. It’s understandable that some folks won’t patronize certain businesses, why the insults and attacks?

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 6:19 pm February 8, 2013 #

  54. I like Panda’s tea. And noodles. And Orange Chicken. And their Beijing Beef (I think that’s the name).

    Come on in, Panda Express. The waters are warm!

    I also enjoy Giannoni’s Pizza. Good stuff.

    Open arms.

    Comment by shed22 — 12:26 am February 9, 2013 #

  55. My apologies for (temporarily) letting through a comment with a completely unnecessary (and against our rules) racial reference. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:02 am February 9, 2013 #

  56. No problem :-) I saw that reply and responded. Looks like my response went with the initial reply. Wow that was an ignorant reply though

    Comment by Eric — 1:39 pm February 9, 2013 #

  57. We NEEEEEED a Chipotle!!! It would be crazy-jam-packed-popular here in WS.

    Comment by goodgraces — 5:20 pm February 9, 2013 #

  58. I remember that taste test from 5 years ago. Didn’t include Pegasus on Alki yet it considered Westwood Village a part of West Seattle but not Alki. Smirked then and now.

    Comment by Dale — 11:00 pm February 9, 2013 #

  59. As a rule I prefer locally owned restaurants verses Corp. Chains but a Chipotle, Baja Fresh or Jimmy John’s would be much preferred over Panda Express.

    Comment by Susan — 10:16 am February 12, 2013 #

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