The Place: 8 ½ Taverna: 11334 Moorpark St. Studio City; (818) 308-1100.
The Hours: Monday-Saturday 3-6 p.m.
The Deals: A small selection of appetizers ranging in price from $5-$8 along with a small menu of $6 beer and wine "cocktails."
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The Digs: 8 ½ Taverna has a lot of things going for it. It's sits on a huge corner lot and has an ample and inviting patio out front. Inside, it's dimly lit and welcoming, with a large curved bar that greets you as you enter, a long communal table near the window for people watching and a small dining room if you want a bit more privacy.
The place has a very neighborhood bar vibe. Many people were greeted by name when they came in and indeed, most of the guests seemed to have been there before. The crowd was a mix of locals and industry types; in Studio City, the two are often one in the same.
8 ½ Taverna only serves beer and wine, so if your idea of unwinding after work involves a strong martini, you'd better look elsewhere. There are no deals on the regular beer and wine menu, but it's interesting and extensive. Instead owner Fabrizio Di Gianni wanted to take a different approach, so he is offering up deals on special drinks you can only get if you show up during happy hour. Right now there are four wine cocktails, like the 8 ½ Sunset, which is a mix of white wine, pineapple juice, grenadine and sparkling water, along with four beer cocktails, like the Radner, which combines lemonade and pilsner. According to one of the bartenders, Di Gianni has intentions of expanding the happy hour drink choices in the months to come.
Food-wise there are eight dishes currently available, all created and prepared by chef-partner Enzo Sanseverino. Like the cocktails, these are dishes that are not on the regular menu and ones that you can only get if you show up between 3-6 p.m.
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The Verdict: The atmosphere and energy of Taverna is laid back and welcoming, just what you want for an after work experience. Whether you sit at the bar or hang with a group of friends out on the patio, you get the feeling you're really getting taken care of.
The food menu could be expanded, but in the restaurants defense, the items they do serve seem well thought out and lovingly prepared.
8 ½ Taverna would probably get an A except for the fact that they only serve beer and wine. They are trying to be unique and inventive with their beer and wine cocktails, which definitely gets them a few points, but to appeal to a broader happy hour crowd the least they could do would be to offer a few beers and wines (not mixed with anything fizzy or fruity) as well.
Overall rating: B