Where to Eat in Chapel Hill (411 West)

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“Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco. (translation) Not all donuts come with a hole.” –Italian Saying

Looking for some yummy Italian food while on Franklin Street? 411 West is probably your best bet if you are looking for atmosphere and great service. We ended up stumbling upon this lovely gem because Butternut Squash (vegetarian) and Lime and Basil (Vietnamese) were both closed. The odds of both of those places not being open made me a bit upset, however I am not complaining in the least bit. I normally don’t eat Italian food because I have been a bit spoiled with having friends that are from Napoli, Italy and them knowing how to make authentic food from scratch. I am sorry, but Olive Garden just doesn’t cut it.

I will say, this place did make quite an impression on me. First off, the decor and the indoor patio/garden room are amazing, not to mention romantic. I really enjoyed the lighting because it was quite a warm day so it ALMOST felt like we were eating outside, but without all the bugs and pollen. They brought us out bread and butter (in which I did not partake in the butter) and I had awesome sparkling water with lime while Bryce had the in house made citriusaid, which was quite tasty! They had a fantastic wine list as well and we both had a glass of the Malbec which had been recently added. I really liked the fact that they gave details about each of the wines on the list so you could get a feel for what you’re getting before you order it.

I started off with a wood-grilled pear salad. Can you say amazing? Local mixed greens with grilled pears, walnuts and in house made balsamic dressing. It was suppose to come with gorgonzola but I opted out of having cheese (of course). It was probably the best damn salad I have had in a good while. For my entree I had the roasted wild mushrooms over a polenta cake with hazelnut-butter and rosemary. Yes, it was vegan and yes, it was fricken tasty! The meatiness of the mushrooms was so rich and it melded to well with the creaminess of the polenta. I need to learn how to make that…it was that good. I didn’t get to taste Bryce’s dish because it wasn’t vegan, but from what I could tell it was a small version of a handmade personal pizza with a flaky crust. It looked quite yummy.

I did cheat a bit and had dessert which wasn’t vegan, but we ordered the dessert sampler so I only had a bite or 2 of each thing. I didn’t get sick either afterwards probably for that very reason. I think they didn’t have that much dairy in them to begin with…but no dairy for awhile. It included the key lime pie, millionaire’s pie, chocolate gelato, and creme brulee. They were all decent, but I am still fond of vegan desserts more so. They did have sherbet though so I will be having that next time to satisfy my sweet tooth. In short though, if you want a restaurantthat appeases both carnivores and herbivores alike, this is a safe bet.

We went during lunch, but from what I have gathered the place is popping at night and is a great place to go for Sunday brunch. So next time you get a pasta craving, go here. I hope you all enjoy and Namaste! (more pics of the food below)

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