In the quiet northwestern suburb of Westlake Village, right on the LA-Ventura County border, sits North 101 North Eatery & Bar, where masterful taste and a modern, yet homey ambiance could very well be the spark that ignites the area into a culinary hotspot. 101 North is the brainchild of Executive Chef Anthony Alaimo, whose years in legendary eateries across the US, Europe and Asia not only earned him a prestigious Michelin star, but inspired a level of creativity, execution and attention to detail that few can attain over the course of their careers.
“Las Vegas and Macau have two completely different food scenes and both were equally influential in my take on the restaurant world,” Alaimo said, reflecting on his time at Le Cirque in the Bellagio and Il Teatro at Wynn Macau (China). “There were several Michelin star restaurants [in Macau] who would go above and beyond…a Japanese restaurant in Macau would fly in water from Japan to cook their sushi rice, and I’ve never seen that type of dedication before.”
101 North undoubtedly exemplifies that type of dedication, with dishes like the crispy split corn, turning an ordinary corn cob into a true work of art with just enough ground chili, pecorino cheese and bacon aioli to make the whole concoction terribly addictive. Or perhaps the papas, among the most elegant French fry displays in all of Los Angeles, perfectly cooked with a light vinegar to finish, and each individual fry perhaps stacked by hand to take the dish truly over the top.
With hand-painted murals lining several of the walls, a beautiful backlit bar and enchanting patio, a place like 101 North would fit in perfectly among the modern food epicenters of DTLA, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. Westlake Village, however, was a very conscious decision by Alaimo and his team.
“When we began searching for the perfect location to begin our journey, we were inspired by the rich and diverse culinary scene that Downtown Los Angeles had created,” Alaimo said. “We were motivated to bring that energy, enthusiasm and love for food to an area that has an emerging culinary scene of its own. We firmly believe that Westlake Village was the perfect place to debut our restaurant, serving a population that values and appreciates high quality dining and holds their community of family and friends in the highest regard.”
The Westlake Village community has certainly taken a liking to 101 North. The place was packed on a Sunday night, with patrons still attempting to come in after the kitchen had closed. Could you really blame them, though? One bit of those short rib sliders, or a wood-fired pizza with fresh arugula, San Danielle ham, parmesan and ricotta, and you’d try to break down the door too.
On the surface, 101 North could be confused as just another new-age place serving up haute cuisine. The menu has no geographic roots—101 North isn’t a place you go for ‘Italian,’ or ‘Chinese’ or even ‘gastropub.’ The food here is dynamic, shifting with the seasons. And while this is nothing more than a marketing ploy for some eateries, it’s a genuine initiative for Chef Alaimo, and all part of his master plan.
“We call ourselves a ‘New American restaurant with a Mediterranean influence.’ This way, we’re not obligated to prepare dishes that are categorized in a specific cuisine. We’re able to cook with a variety of ingredients and switch out dishes as the seasons change,” Alaimo said. “By not defining ourselves as any particular cuisine, it gives us the opportunity to get creative and use fresh, seasonal ingredients year-round.”
At the time of this writing, seasonal kabocha squash made for a killer risotto, melding beautifully with burrata and a drizzling of fig balsamic. Then there’s the picante shrimp tagliolini, where selva prawns and clams sit atop a homemade pasta that showcases Alaimo’s training in a high-end Italian setting, all laced with sliced picante salami. It’s a mouthful, and it’s darn delicious.
Equally sophisticated is the drink menu, where that beautiful bar is clearly for more than just good looks. Cocktails like the sweet ignition, with vodka, fresh rosemary and candied ginger, or the lovely loon, with vodka, fresh mint, citrus, organic blueberry and sparkling wine, taste as refreshing as they sound and go with just about everything.
101 North’s dessert menu packs all the same punch as well. The chocolate hazelnut trifle is something else, deeply rich and eloquently plated to show the pride and joy Alaimo and team take in creating a pristine guest experience. Same goes for the bomboloni, or sweet donuts coated in vanilla sugar and delivered so beautifully that you almost don’t want to touch them…almost.
And while 101 North is Chef Alaimo’s first mark on LA, it looks to be just the beginning. He’s got another concept in the works, and after one meal at 101 North, you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting for what’s next.
101 North Eatery & Bar is located at 30760 Russell Ranch Rd Suite D, Westlake Village, CA 91362. Open 4 – 11p Tue – Thu, 4p – 1a Fri/Sat, 10a – 8p Sun, Closed Mon. Avg. out-the-door price for starter, entrée, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$89/person. Call (805) 852-1588 or visit 101NorthEateryAndBar.com.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.