Thursday, December 12, 2013

643 North: Polenta Pizza and Craft Cocktails in Chinatown

While Italian restaurants and craft beer and cocktail bars are abound in downtown Los Angeles, 643 North occupies an unusual location: Chinatown. You might be confused driving there through a desolate part of Chinatown, but don't worry, it's there. Plus they have a free parking lot to the left, perks of a cheaper real estate.

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Actually, 643 North isn't really an Italian restaurant although the menu leans a bit in that direction. They also have other items like these Crab sliders (blue crab patties, chipotle remoulade, daikon sprouts, brioche, $13)
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You shouldn't miss their pasta, though, especially the Ossobuco ravioli (braised veal, housemade ravioli, baby heirloom tomatoes, broccolini, Parmesan broth, Parmesan cheese, $17)
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I was expecting a heavy dish, as ossobuco typically is, but this is light and lovely. The al dente ravioli sits in a bright parmesan broth, letting diners experience ossobuco in a different way. This was one of the highlights of my meal.
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I was also pleasantly surprised with the cocktails here, created by Adam Acuff from Far Bar, which is more known for their beers rather than cocktails (643 North also has a good beer list). All cocktails are $12 and include drinks like Smokey the Pear (High West Campfire, St Germain, spiced pear syrup, lemon bitters) which was nicely balanced.


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Of course, based on the name along I had to get Little Italy in Chinatown (E H Taylor Rye, Cynar, Carpano Antica, ginger beer) which was perfect for me and had everything I liked!

You can also build your own martini and manhattan from their nice selection of liquors, vermouth, and bitters (check out the build your own menu). I didn't do this on my visit because I wanted to try the cocktails they created but there are so many fun combinations to play around with.

Don't miss their pizza, as their crust is special. I tried the Wild Scottish Salmon pizza (smoked salmon, pesto oil, goat cheese, arugula, red onions, capers, creme fraiche, $18)
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The pizza toppings are reminiscent of Spago's famous salmon pizza, but what is notable at 643 North is the thin crust made of polenta. If you like Zelo's cornmeal crust pizza but thought it was too thick and heavy, then this polenta pizza would be just right for you.

Other dishes on their fairly large menu includes the Wild mushroom medley (roasted shiitake, oyster mushrooms, lobster mushrooms, crimini, goat cheese, $9)
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They also have a couple of Demitasse Coffee cocktails for $10 each and both are worth a try. The first is made with Avion reposado, cointreau, chocolate extract, mole bitters, Kyoto drip reduction. This flavor combination with coffee is more or less expected and is spot on. The second cocktail is more unusual, but I actually really enjoyed it (though my friend still preferred the first, so perhaps this is personal preference). The second coffee cocktail is made with No. 3 dry gin, Licor 43, rosemary maple syrup, Kyoto drop reduction. Coffee with gin and rosemary? It surprisingly worked really well, at least in my opinion!
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For dessert, don't miss their decadent Warm Butter Cake, vanilla sugar, creme chantilly, raspberry coulis ($9)
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IMG_0597643 North
643 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-8888
http://643north.com/Main/Default.aspx
643 North on Urbanspoon

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