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Chinatown's Dining Renaissance Continues via 643 North

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Chinatown is slowing collecting a new breed of food service operators, from Starry Kitchen to the relocated Chego! to General Lee's soon replacing Mountain Bar. And soon there will be 643 North, an inviting, modern Italian restaurant by caterer Michael Ourieff, opening in about three weeks.

Actually, Ourieff got his start 30 years ago with Michael J's Boston Pizzeria on Ventura in Sherman Oaks. Over time Ourieff expanded his menu and changed the business name to Michael J's Italian Kitchen, reflective of a more varied Italian bill of fare. Corporate catering followed, and in 2000 Ourieff moved his restaurant and catering outfit to Downtown LA in the Health Research Building by USC Medical Center not far from Chinatown.

Last year Ourieff's lease expired, which brings us to this here pictured eating establishment, a new contemporarty take on the deceased Michael J's Italian Kitchen. 643 North is cheffed by Oz Ramuco (Faux Pas, J Lounge) and his menu is pretty straight forward American Italian, with many of the usual suspects like a Caprese salad, prosciutto di Parma panino, and penne alla vodka. Ramuco is especially excited about his Scottish salmon pizza (pesto oil, goat cheese, arugula, smoked salmon, red onions, capers, crème fraîche), offered for both lunch and dinner. Ramuco explains that this dish was inspired by one of his favorite plates, a smoked salmon flatbread from Boon Fly Cafe in Napa. And, just for the record, no farmed fish here. Meanwhile, meat hails from Niman Ranch.

In general, 643 North is looking to be an approachable neighborhood hang, designed by Raveled Studio, with large retractable windows that open out to the street, about 60 seats, and black-painted end grain wood tiles. Adam Acuff (Far Bar) is behind the restaurant's pretty extensive bar program, which includes 12 rotating beer taps, a make-your-own martini/Manhattan section (choose base spirit, vermouth, bitters, and garnish), a list of Amaros, a bevy of Demitasse coffee intoxicants, and a mix of classic Italian cocktails plus some newfangled versions. Red and white wine, too.

Adjacent to 643 North is a spacious parking lot enclosed by looming exposed brick walls, and in the future Ourieff is planning to add an extra 100 seats and turn the space into an outdoor beer garden. But, first things first. Right now he's focused on passing final inspections and opening doors.
·Italian Cuisine Coming to Chinatown via 643 North [~ELA~]

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