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.
Butternut squash soup with bacon marshmallows. Lobster rolls piled high with fresh seafood. Endless choices of high-end wines coupled with cooking demonstrations from some of the most acclaimed chefs in the country. The Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival saw a successful year indeed. Hosted over the final week of September, the festival welcomed fall in gourmet style with a festive party in tow.
Two days of grand tastings at the Newport Beach Civic Center highlighted the weekend, whereby a collection of acclaimed chefs showcased their restaurants’ creative approaches to modern dining. Live music energized a fun-loving crowd that sipped to their hearts’ content [albeit maybe beyond their livers’], with perfect weather rounding out an OC-foodie’s dreamland.
Award-winning Chefs Hubert Keller, Richard Blais, Lorena Garcia, Melissa King and Brooke Williamson were among the many big names to showcase their skills live on stage. Highlighting the cooking demos, however, was the duo of Amar Santana and Katsuji Tanabe, two Top Chef alums whose humor and banter was almost as fantastic as their kitchen skill. On the wine side, four master sommeliers led tastings and wine education lessons. Given that there are less than 150 master sommeliers in the entire US, The Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival recruited one heck of a lineup.
Dozens of eateries came to play, and a few certainly stole the show. Nobu was an unsurprising standout with a steamed cod that melted in your mouth. Selanne Steak Tavern’s braised short rib with white polenta and bleu cheese foam was a huge crowd favorite, as was their butternut squash soup noted above. Broadway’s Lamb Confit and Driftwood Kitchen’s prime, farro and roasted corn griddle cakes continued the momentum, as did The Winery’s pork belly over risotto and Puesto’s tacos.
Wineries included Ancient Peaks Winery, Barlow Vineyards, Mondavi Family Wines, AIX, Duckhorn, Dearly Beloved, Navarro Vineyards and Roadhouse Winery among many others. Stella poured from three separate stations, ensuring everyone got their beer fix. Duke’s and Johnny Walker brought an interesting presence to the festival, as well as Blue Marble’s ‘ultra premium’ pre-mixed canned cocktails.
Dessert was surprisingly missing on day one, but made a beautiful appearance day two thanks to Mozza’s butterscotch gelato and Aven Table + Bar’s honey syrup doughnuts with pork belly. It was joined with plenty of sweet drinks, such as Bass Note Sangria and Tatratea, a Slovakian tea-based herbal liquer that packs a punch like you wouldn’t believe.
Numerous VIP events surrounded the grand tastings, such as a champagne and caviar tasting by Moet Hennesey and Petrossian. A panel of four master sommeliers, caviar expert Christopher Klapp and Chef Alan Greeley led guests through five pairings of labels such as Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot and Moet Chandon with some of Petrossian’s top caviars. Petrossian, for those who don’t know, is the Moet Hennesey of caviar.
More VIP events, private dinners and late-night parties allowed the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival to effectively take over Orange County’s restaurant scene for the weekend, adding a great spark to celebrate the region’s sprawling foodie presence.
Guests may spend the next year visiting the restaurants they sampled over the weekend, but before you know it the 2018 festival will be fast-approaching. For more information visit NewportWineAndFood.com
The James Beard Foundation has announced its fifth Taste America national culinary tour, and the party will come to Los Angeles October 6 – 7. Guests can expect a stunning lineup of chefs and tastes to take place across a short-but-sweet list of cooking demonstrations and fundraiser events.
The highlight of LA’s Taste America weekend looks to be Friday’s A Night of Culinary Stars benefit dinner, prepared by Taste America All-Star Barbara Lynch, Local Star Michael Cimarusti, and pastry chef Shannon Swindle. Couple this with a pre-dinner reception filled with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres from local chefs and restaurateurs, such as Evan Funke (Felix, Venice), Justin Hilbert (Maude, Beverly Hills), Sara Kramer (Kismet, Los Angeles), and David Schlosser (Shibumi, Los Angeles), Amanda Chapman and Johnny Ray Zone (Howlin’ Ray’s, Los Angeles) as well as host chef Neal Fraser (Redbird, Los Angeles).
On Saturday, October 7, free events will take place at Sur La Table located at the Farmers Market at The Grove. Guests can expect cooking demonstrations by Barbara Lynch and Michael Cimarusti, book signings, tastings and product demonstrations. Reservations for the free cooking demonstrations will begin Friday, September 22.
Proceeds benefit the James Beard Foundation. Taste America spans across ten dynamic culinary destinations: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle.
To book tickets and find out more, Visit Taste America Los Angeles’ event page.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.