Bites: Osso Buco at Royal Hawaiian, and On-Point Cocktails at Knife Pleat

Photo credit: Benjamin Epstein

Aloha, Argentina!
Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill
Seeking superb empanadas or osso buco? Head to the … Royal Hawaiian? Open since 1947 and now officially the Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill, the Polynesian-themed spot still offers lomi lomi salmon and kalua pork, but the slow-braised veal shank with ricotta-potato gnocchi and rotating versions of empanadas—such as corn, fish, and beef—are bigger draws. The new chef-owners, brothers Maro and Martín Molteni, were born in Argentina. Maro operated Maro Wood Grill in Laguna Beach for seven years; Martín also helms Argentina’s acclaimed PuraTierra. That explains the empanadas, a fast-food staple in Buenos Aires, and the osso buco: Italy has had a huge influence on Argentinian cuisine. 331 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-715-1470

Photo credit: Courtesy of Knife Pleat

Cocktails by Design
Knife Pleat
The six cocktails at Knife Pleat, which plans to expand service this month to include lunch, perfectly suit the restaurant’s location at South Coast Plaza. Most are named for fashion icons, among them Jeanne Paquin, the first major female designer. “The Armagnac and Floc de Gascogne in my first cocktail came from the same Armagnac house,” beverage director Victor Moreno says. “The owner of the house 100 years ago was the French ambassador to Russia—and married to Paquin.” The standout on the list: Christian Dior, at left, a nod to one of the center’s boutiques. Dior hailed from Normandy, known for its Calvados apple brandy; Moreno adds Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao and a sugared rim with dehydrated orange. 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-266-3388

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