The Place: Caffé Roma, 350 North Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 274-7834.
The Hours: Daily, 3-8 p.m.
The Deals: 51% off all cocktails, beer and wine; $5 appetizers.
The Digs: Located across the street from the Celebrity Vault, Mulberry Pizzeria, and James Perse, this is a true Beverly Hills haunt. Expect men and women donning sunglasses well past sundown, along with designer duds and attitudes to match. A table on the sidewalk is best for people-watching on Cañon Drive. Even during its busiest happy hour, the seats are plentiful outside, but expect to wait for your drinks. On some days, the servers might offer a free, small appetizer plate, which typically consists of an array of cheesy breads laced with pork. The spot is known for attracting celebrities, most likely during lunch hours. If you'd like to catch a glimpse of Fabio, Heidi Fleiss walking nearby, or even the governor eating lunch with Jon Lovitz, be ready to camp out for a while--at least until happy hour ends at 8 p.m.
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The Verdict: The happy hour food menu is a pleasant surprise in comparison to other spots of its kind. For five dollars you can choose from Italian-inspired dishes such as pizza; meatballs with tomato sauce and peas; oven-baked penne with eggplant; smoked fish; a hefty serving of grilled octopus; or a salad-topped beef carpaccio. When the dishes arrive, they appear the same--relative to both presentation and portion size--as the more pricey ones on the regular menu, which makes you wonder why you ever ordered off the regular menu.
The 51% off drinks includes top-shelf alcoholic beverages, which is a good option if you're in the mood to splurge--even with the discount, some high-end drinks can still run you about 10 bucks each. And these aren't sissy drinks--just ask that guy in a fedora hat smoking a cigar on the patio. The service isn't anything to write home about. It's a task to get your waiter to replenish your drink or bring the check, but the ambiance and happy hour deals make it worth the snobbery.
Overall Grade: B+