I always like to remind myself that even though it’s fun to try out the latest new places, I also like to go back to more established, classic restaurants that serve consistently good food. There’s a reason places like 411 West, an Italian restaurant owned by Chapel Hill Restaurant Group, are successful for many years.
We had a friend in town recently and decided to stroll down Franklin Street until we found something that looked good. We decided to go to 411 West. The place was buzzing with many people enjoying their food. We sat towards the back of the restaurant in a relaxing room that has an indoor water feature. The ambiance reminds one of a Mediterranean bistro.
We started our meal with an artichoke dip. It was very finely diced with Romano tomatoes and herbs. It was delicious, though a bit on the salty side. The bread was nice and crunchy and the lemony flavor with the artichokes was divine. We also had the calamari as an appetizer. The calamari was fried to a crispy, golden brown and was not chewy, as calamari can sometimes be. While we liked the sauce that was served with the calamari, I found myself wanting to have a marinara sauce to dip them in, perhaps because 411 West is an Italian restaurant.
My friend had the lasagna, which was rich, and had a deep roasted tomato flavor to it. The cheese was soft and gooey and had a nice creaminess to it. The pasta was perfectly cooked as well.
I had the risotto with butternut squash, goat cheese and arugula. Risotto is one of those dishes that is very easy to mess up, by either under cooking it, making the rice too crunchy, or over cooking it, which makes it too mushy. This risotto was just right. It was creamy and tart from the goat cheese that was in it. The arugula gave it a little peppery kick to it. Yum!
My husband had the penne pasta with Italian sausage. The dish had lots of mushrooms in it, including some Shitakes and Portabella mushrooms. The penne pasta had a sherry and leek flavored sauce, which was very good. This was a dish my husband loved, though it wouldn’t be my choice as I’m still not a huge mushroom fan.
We finished our meal with a sweet potato creme brulee. The top was caramelized and had a nice crack when your spoon went through the top. It was sweet and had a nice cinnamon and nutmeg taste to it. Definitely a nice dessert for a cold day. It was a winner!
411 West is located at 411 West Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill. It is open from 11:30 – 4pm for lunch Monday – Saturday and for dinner from 5 – 9:30 on Monday – Thursday, 5 – 10:30pm on Friday – Saturday and from 5 – 9:30pm on Sunday. It is also open on Sunday from 10:30 – 2 pm for brunch. You can follow 411 West’s Facebook page to find out about specials, events and more.