Review By: Julianne Di –
The choice of this restaurant all started because of my mother. I usually stay away from Italian restaurants because I was raised on the typical pizza, anything Parmigianino, and all the pasta you can eat, like a character from a Stregha Nonna children’s book. Now, I’m not trying to offend anyone who loves gooey melted mozzarella and forks full of spaghetti because I do love Italian food. I’ve just had enough and discovered different flavors and ingredients that are new and more pleasing to my palate. And, I want to try every different combination I possibly can.
So back to my mother… She goes to a lot of fundraisers and is always winning restaurant gift certificates but never goes out to eat (I don’t get it either!). So I inherit all of the winnings – sometimes it’s great, but sometimes I get stuck going to a typical Italian place. My boyfriend and I accepted this particular gift certificate to 101 Restaurant because it was convenient and also because I knew that I’d probably never try this place otherwise.
We were seated in the restaurant and I perused the menu with an open mind and with goal of trying something I’ve never ordered before. For an appetizer, we went with the Beef Carpaccio because we’re always hesitant to try it other places but figured tonight was the perfect night to be adventurous. The plate was arranged with thin slices of rare beef that melted in your mouth before you could even chew them. This dish was so good that my boyfriend finished half the plate before I could even snap a picture (thanks a lot!). I also ordered the salad because I was curious to taste the strawberry lemon vinaigrette and almond encrusted goat cheese. The salad was good and the vinaigrette was sweet instead of tangy. The collaboration of the warm goat cheese and the cold arugula was delicious. Perhaps I had judged this place prematurely? I was feeling a little guilty before the main course came out…
The Filet Mignon was presented first, followed by the pasta dish. It was probably not a good idea to order a steak a week after having the most perfect piece of meat at Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village. We soon discovered that it definitely was not a good idea; Minetta Tavern had raised the bar too high. This steak was tender like Filet Mignon should be but there was a smoky taste to it that did not pair well with the wine reduction sauce drizzled on top. The pasta was al dente and served in a tomato sauce with onions and prosciutto. It wasn’t anything outstanding or a pasta dish that I feel like I would ever order again. I wasn’t so impressed with either of these dishes and by the end of the main course the guilt I had been feeling after the apps had subsided somewhat.
Now, on to dessert…
I don’t typically order dessert because I’m usually stuffed after dinner, but I’m one of those girls that will steal a spoonful of whatever my boyfriend orders (sorry babe). He doesn’t really seem to mind though (at least, that’s what I tell myself). Crème Brulee was on the menu so Crème Brulee it was because there’s nothing more heavenly to me than crispy sugar coating and a smooth, creamy bottom. When 101’s Crème Brulee came out I was like a kid in a candy store but by the third spoonful any trace of pre-judgment guilt was completely gone. Someone in the kitchen was heavy handed with the torch and had burnt the sugar coating I love so much, leaving a burnt aftertaste and ruining the dessert.
Well I guess I gave it a shot, right? You definitely won’t be seeing me again at 101 Restaurant & Lounge…even if my mother tries to sway me with another gift certificate.