Upon entering Nikkita — a small tapas-style restaurant with a whole lot to offer — one can’t help but smile. Located on 200 Crown Street, Nikkita combines the decor of a sophisticated diner with the fusion fare of a chic Los Angeles eatery.

Whether on a hot date at the raw bar, having a casual dinner with friends, or even hosting a swingin’ Saturday night shindig, Nikkita’s ambience makes the perfect match for every dining crew. Big or small, any group can easily find their dining niche in this colorful, cozy restaurant. The bar — sleek and curved — offers multiple drink specials, fun to sip as you watch one of the four flat screen TVs. If chatting is more your style, you might prefer the funky chrome tables, high enough to stand around — but don’t worry, plush stools are included. If you’re so inclined, and you should be, check out the umbrella-shaped wire lamps and iridescent lanterns that enhance Nikkita’s subtly festive mood.

If you feel more like sitting down and feasting — as we did — don’t be alarmed. Just beyond the wooden partition are tables and booths for your epicurean enjoyment. Tables for two, four, or even eight are readily available. Whatever size your party may be, Nikkita can accommodate you.

The menu proudly states, “Nikkita — the essence of sharing, food, and fun with friends.” Let us tell you, they’re not lying. Initially overwhelming (but hey, what isn’t?) the menu goes above and beyond the oh-so trendy “fusion” cuisine, popular in many restaurants today. They offer — in no special order — sushi, seafood, meat, pizza, Italian, Asian and Latin dishes, all served in appetizer portions. Don’t be concerned, the wait staff is friendly and approachable, ready and willing to make suggestions and answer questions. In the end, the choice is up to you. Chart your own course and order for yourself, or split several entrees con tus amigos. In our case, we chose to eat each others’ food. Why get one entree, when you can get four?

When in season, the seafood dishes are highly recommended. We started with NY Style Fried Calamari. Served in a chunky marinara sauce with spicy peppers, the calamari is delicious — a traditional appetizer with a saucy new kick. Next we sampled Gordo Brazilian Style Shrimp. Although not much different from a tasty shrimp cocktail, the Brazilian presentation outdoes the conventional cup of tartar sauce. Still shelled and hanging from skewers, these shrimp are sure to elicit oohs and aahs on their trip from kitchen to table.

Our next course consisted of Ahi Tuna and Ravioli. The tuna itself is respectable. But the other flavors on the plate help to create a more lasting impression — Asian coleslaw and black wild rice work perfectly with the sesame seed crusted tuna. But the ravioli, oh the ravioli. Drenched in the richest of cream sauces (so rich this dish should be illegal), two doughy cheese-filled raviolis bathe in a sea of lobster and shrimp — and cream (in case you forgot). This heart attack on a plate is sinfully good. And who doesn’t love to sin? This entree is a must. So save yourself the guilt and split it with a friend.

We were so stuffed that dessert just wasn’t an option. But don’t fear, the menu was enough to make our mouths water. Chocolate lava cake, sorbet, cheesecake, and creme brulee round out the few but savory choices, guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Best of all, the prices at Nikkita are reasonable — always appreciated by thrifty college students.

On a cold night such as tonight, and probably many nights to come, Nikkita offers a much-needed vacation from the salad bar and long lines of your local dining hall. And remember, you can never have too many raviolis.

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