Angelenos are used to the best ethnic restaurants being located in minimalls, and Lou on Vine certainly surprised with its hip decor and haute pig candy in a nearly-hidden minimall location. Now up-and-coming Atwater has its own minimall surprise. 55 Degrees is a wine shop specializing in Italian wines and unusual sparkling wines...with a cozy basement tasting room deep in the bowels of the Starbucks minimall on Glendale Blvd. Owner Ali Biglar (he's also owner of Wine Expo on the Westside) wants to introduce customers to small-producer Italian wines, and to make sure people focus on them, he's stocking very few new world varieties. In addition to what Biglar says will be a rotating selection of some 2000 Italians, he's planning a nice selection of Spanish bottles, 500 rotating small-production sparkling wines and eventually beer, cheese and condiments.
The basement tasting bar offers rotating flights such as tonight's Italian Light with three tastes for $9, as well as sparkling, white and red tasting flights that change each week. Cheese plates selected to complement white or red flights are $13.50 or $15 for a good-sized plate with some intriguing cheeses like my favorite La Tur. The wine shop is open 11-10 every day, while the tasting cave is open 6-10 pm.
3111 Glendale Blvd.