I have a secret desire to be an Extreme Couponer. Sadly, it will never happen. Although I love saving money, I don’t have the patience, organization and/or math skills to make it work. I faithfully clip the coupons that get dropped off with all of the circulars on my doorstep every week and I get pretty excited when the machines at the cash registers give them to me. But most of the time, I forget my sparkly little coupon wallet at home when we go to the supermarket and by the time I get around to sorting through it again, most of my coupons have expired.
This poor track record with couponing is why I don’t let myself purchase Groupons that often either (side note—the deals for things like dental work and Botox freak me out. Those just seem like things worth paying full price for, you know what I mean?). Recently though, friends of ours had a Groupon for 943, a BYOB located in the Italian Market area that they knew that they weren’t getting around to using. Since I hate to see a good deal go to waste, I purchased it from them.
Although we had heard mixed reviews about the restaurant, Chester and I are always willing to try out a new place, especially if it’s in our neighborhood. We managed to sneak in a visit just a week before the deal was due to expire.
Since there isn’t much foot traffic in the Italian Market area after all of the businesses close for the day, I wasn’t surprised to see that it wasn’t too crowded when we visited on a Saturday night. It’s located in a very large storefront, but it’s sparsely and simply furnished. That is kind of a nice change of pace since so many restaurants in the area are quite tiny and loud and have you sharing close personal space with your neighbors.
The chef grew up in an Argentinean-Italian home and the menu reflects the homestyle cooking of his family. The selection of starters all sounded good, so we had a hard time narrowing down what we wanted to try. So, we ordered a few to share.
Our favorite was the grilled octopus. The octopus was perfectly cooked and tender and served in a saffron and fennel infused-broth and topped with fava beans. It reminded us of octopus dishes that we had on our honeymoon in Spain. For the price of the dish, though, there definitely could have been more octopus included in it.
Chester also really enjoyed the house-made sausage plate, which featured a combination of spicy Argentinean and blood sausage. I was fine with the first selection because it tasted like what I might have with Sunday gravy. I just cannot get past the spongey texture and a gamey taste of blood sausage, though.
The empanada sampler—which included beef, ham and cheese and chicken varieties–was also a highlight. The fillings were all well seasoned and the wrappers weren’t at all greasy. It seemed like maybe they had been prepared in advance, but they held up well even though they sat out on the table for awhile as we worked our way through the dishes.
The thick cut papas fritas, had a generous helping of parsley, garlic and salt that made them slightly addictive. The menu advertised them as having a broken fried egg, but our version seemed to have bits of scrambled egg sprinkled over the top. I think a fried egg with a runny yolk would definitely have added a bit more to the dish.
Finally, we shared one of the appetizer specials, the provoletta—a circle of lightly grilled provolone cheese, drizzled in olive oil and topped with bits of chorizo. Can you go wrong with any of those ingredients? No, I don’t think you can.
Although we felt like the small plates added up to a pretty substantial meal, we also decided to share one of the entrée selections—the grilled short rib. I’ve only ever had braised short ribs and this preparation didn’t seem to give the meat the same rich flavor as I’m used too. It reminded me of eating a steak, but at least it was well seasoned and pretty tender.
Overall, we ended up being pleasantly surprised by our experience at 943. I don’t know if I would go rushing back, but I was glad that I had the Groupon as an excuse to bump it up on my list of places to visit.
If you go, keep in mind that it’s cash only and you’ll probably want to grab a bottle of wine before leaving your house, because there is not a wine and spirits store in close proximity. Even if you don’t go for a full meal, it would be a good casual place to have a few glasses of wine and some snacks with a group of friends.