Photo Credit: Ben Brown, Chez Melange and San Pedro Fish Market
101 North: Michelin-Starred Chef Works Magic in Westlake Village
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 bite 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. 101NorthEateryAndBar.com.
After 37 Years in The South Bay, Chez Melange Says Its Final Farewell
Chez Melange, a long-time favorite among LA South Bay locals known for its ever-changing menu and multiple restaurants-inside-a-restaurant approach, announced that they will be closing their doors on February 29th or sooner, after 37 years in business.
When they first opened the restaurant in 1982, Michael Franks and Robert Bell decided to offer new dining options that were unheard of at the time by combining American, European and Asian fusion dishes into a menu that change daily. Chez Melange also offered farm-to-table options—before it was ‘cool’—straight from the local Valmonte Gardens in Palos Verdes, always incorporating sustainability into their full-service restaurant and upon arrival guests would be greeted with friendly faces.
Throughout the years, Chez Melange went through many changes to eventually house three restaurants under one roof. Bouzy Gastropub which, inspired by a French brasserie, offered English pub and American bar and grill fare. The Oyster Bar was dedicated to seafood and handcrafted cocktails. The newest addition, Sea Change, was a formal, seafood-centric restaurant with a menu that changed daily, with favorites such as Zarzuela, Lobster Kung Pao, and the classic ‘Hangtown Fry.’
“Thank you. Thank you for your loyalty. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your support. You’ve been more than just wonderful and loyal customers since we opened in 1982; you’ve been our family and our friends,” said Franks and Bell. “And after 37 years, the time has come to bid adieu to Chez Melange. We wouldn’t have made this journey without you.”
Legendary San Pedro Fish Market Opening New Long Beach Restaurant
San Pedro Fish Market is expanding to Long Beach. Located on the Alamitos Bay Marina, the iconic waterfront seafood destination is set to serve fresh seafood prepared to guest’s preferences every day of the year.
“After 63 years of serving the best seafood on the waterfront in San Pedro, we are thrilled to announce the opening of our new Long Beach location,” said Mike Ungaro, CEO of San Pedro Fish Market. “We didn’t think we would find another waterfront location and we are excited to join the Long Beach community on the beautiful Alamitos Bay Marina.”
The 11,000-sq-ft restaurant spans across two floors with indoor and outdoor waterfront seating for 450 guests. Paying tribute to the original San Pedro Fish Market in Ports O’ Call Village, the industrial restaurant design incorporates authentic shipping containers, emulating the containers visible on cargo ships in the port of San Pedro. Nautical sconce lighting and a giant preserved fish at the front entrance, extend the authentic fish market feel. The restaurant is also commissioning exterior artwork highlighting vignettes of the original location and the Ungaro family’s founding members.
The restaurant will have chilled display cases of fresh fish for guests to select from and they can choose their desired preparation. Guests can also order off San Pedro Fish Market’s menu of plates and sandwiches, as well as traditional seafood favorites like clam chowder and fish & chips. The restaurant features a full bar on each floor, serving San Pedro Fish Market’s signature micheladas, cocktails and soft drinks.