The Spot: North Italia
4925 North 40th Street
The Hours: Happy hour is from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and all day on Sunday
Perfect for: Sharing a bottle of wine and some light snacks
The Interior: With soaring ceilings and a open-air design, North Italia makes diners feel as if they're eating inside a very nice, contemporary farmhouse, not a busy Arcadia restaurant. And while some of Sam Fox's dining spots seem to be trying just a little too hard, North really does feel like a cozy neighborhood destination. The dining room is often full (on a recent Sunday night, there was a 45-minute wait for a table), but we just see that as a good excuse to dine on the restaurant's patio or at the bar. The patio is usually our first choice anyway; separated from 40th Street by a row of lush trees, North's outdoor area is more like a neighbor's spacious porch than a restaurant patio.
The Food: North's happy hour includes four food options that range from $3 to $10. The cheapest option is the bowl of Zucca Chips ($3),
followed by the restaurant's bruschetta ($5), pizzas ($8), and a Chef's Board ($10). The restaurant also offers a $20 Bottle and Board deal that makes a nice alternative to the other famous $20 Bottle and Board deal in the Arcadia neighborhood. (Cough, cough, Postino.)
We went for the Bottle and Board deal, which allows diners to pick between a bottle of red or white wine and either a pizza, bruschetta, or a Chef's Board. The last option is probably the best, not only because it's the most expensive food item anyway, but also because you'll get a full spread of cheese, meat, nuts, pickled vegetables, and bread that's plenty of food for two. We were quite impressed with the value of this charcuterie spread, which included prosciutto, crescenza, aged provolone, asparagus, roasted pepper, marcona almond, castelvetrano olive, and grilled bread.
We also loved the bowl of thinly sliced zucchini chips that came sprinkled with just the right amount of salt. If you're looking for a little finger food to go with a glass of wine, this $3 small plate is the perfect investment. Next time, however, we'd skip the order of prosciutto bruschetta. The combination of crescenza cheese, grilled asparagus, truffle, and grana padano turned out to be surprisingly dry. Plus the truffle flavor overpowered every other ingredient in the dish.
The Drinks: In addition to the $20 Bottle and Board deal, North's happy hour drink options include $4 glasses of wine or sangria, $16 pitchers of sangria or bottles of wine, and $4 beers. On Sunday during all-day happy hour, you can also get half off any bottle of wine on the list.
Given the choice of either red or white wine with our deal, we opted for the bottle of moscato. It wouldn't have been our first choice in a white varietal, but the bottle was somewhat dry, not too sweet, and in the end, totally drinkable. We were impressed that the server also brought out an ice bucket to ensure our wine stayed chilled during our happy hour.
Conclusion: We left happy hour at North full of food and with wine to spare — all for about $25. We have to consider that a pretty successful outing. The Bottle and Board deal is also pretty hard to complain about, even though you'll be limited to choose between red and white. But the professional service and great atmosphere at North make the limited wine options worth while.
Don't Miss: Chef's Board
Skip This: Prosciutto Bruschetta