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DINING


San Diego Uptown News | Sept. 30–Oct.13, 2011


15


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Triple dip and a cold Belgian ale at West Coast Tavern. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ink)


FROM PAGE 11 TAVERN


circular booth in the dining area and still seize the deals. Ditto if you sit on the sidewalk patio that sits under the historic marquee of the Birch North Park Theater. Establishments that do otherwise basically shoot themselves in the foot as their customers cram into confined bar areas while balanc- ing their martinis. Dr. Ink has been knee-butted too many times to mention under those stifling circumstances. The front doors to West


Coast’s tavern room are usually kept wide open, showing off its large namesake sign that formerly hung in the back of the 80-plus year-old building when it was the Fox West Coast Theater. To anyone strolling the street for end- of-the-day libations and chow, the place ropes you in with open arms. An interior brick wall behind the bar gives more the impres- sion of an “East Coast tavern.” The ceilings are high and the vibe is decidedly social rather than clique-ish. The adjoining din- ing room features a yet second


FROM PAGE 12 CALABRIA


ground flour, designated as “00.” And the pizzas must cook in two minutes or less in a wood-fired oven reaching at least 905 degrees Fahrenheit. Holt’s claim that he adheres to all of the above is difficult to dispute once you start eating the stuff.


Calabria’s wine list is also


fiercely Italian, with Chianti, Sangiovese, Barbera, Toscana and other regional varietals accessible at under $35 a bottle. Though make sure your eyesight is sharper than a hawk’s before springing for the five-liter Vin Perdu, priced at a whopping $2,300. Tiramisu and cannoli go miss-


ing from the dessert menu—too ordinary for Holt’s vicarious “barcaffé” romp through Italy. In- stead, we find mini calzones filled with Nutella and hazelnut pieces, as well as super-refreshing peach sorbetto stuffed into its natural fruit shells. Or if you can’t push down more food, a robust honey latte will sufficiently please your sugar sensors. The irony behind Calabria’s


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The king of all caprese salads features heirloom tomatoes surrounding a creamy puck of burrata cheese. (Photo courtesy of Frank Sabatini, Jr.)


authentic Italian food and con- vincing Italian ambiance is that they’re delivered by a Seattle native with Norwegian roots. “But I have an Italian soul,” he


proclaimed as we came away with the understanding that coffee- roasting and pizza-making get along quite well when they’re put under one roof.u


bar to its rear; empty during our late-afternoon visit although vital for when the night owls start fill- ing the joint. Visiting with a wine aficio-


nado, we took a table in the dining room against the big front windows and amid Cohen’s clever installment of framed plasma screens emitting eye-catching ur- ban scenes. Wines by Alice White were in the offing, prompting my friend into a glass of cabernet that he described as “good for the price.” I chose Belgian ale, which paired swimmingly with a basket of Buffalo-style hot wings as well as an addicting house-made ketchup infused with apples, which accompanied a tall order of nice, skinny fries. The “triple dip,” however, is


a universal fit to any alcoholic beverage you choose. It features red pepper romesco, hummus and warm artichoke dip served with chip-like pita and raw veggies. Or opt for the “mini” mac-n-cheese, which isn’t so mini, and you end up with a bowl of corkscrew pasta in mild curd sauce. With all of your creature com-


forts duly met, Dr. Ink will bet a $2 bill that you’ll end up hanging past


the happy-hour cutoff.u RATINGS: Drinks:


Though wine drinkers are limited to only three varietals by Alice White, there are nearly a dozen beers to choose from, many of them craft, plus any well-brand cocktail known to man.


Food: Dips, O-rings, Angus sliders, wings and more are in the offing; all served in siz- able portions and with a tad more flair than your average neighborhood bar.


Value: You’ll be hard-pressed lately to find wine and craft beers selling at $3 a glass. And the $5 food plates qualify as dinner for two if you order a few of them.


Service:


Adequate staffing equates to fast ser- vice here, allowing the servers to greet you in a relaxed, friendly style.


Duration: West Coast now caters to those who work late on weekdays, having recently added happy hour on Saturdays and Sundays.


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