Jon and Vinny’s is a Los Angeles hotspot known for its flavorful Italian dishes and trendy crowd. With two locations, one on Fairfax and the other on San Vicente, the popular restaurant is becoming a West LA staple. Founded by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the restaurant is created by the same restaurateurs as other busy LA eateries such as Animal and Trois Mec. I had the chance to visit the new Brentwood location, which was opened in January of this year.
As soon as diners enter the restaurant, they hear upbeat pop music blaring from the restaurant’s speakers, see the wood-paneled walls and tables and smell the enchanting fragrance of saucy, cheesy Italian favorites. I made sure to make a reservation about a week in advance, and even then, there were no available tables until 8:30 p.m. As customers walk through the door, the friendly staff greets them and shows them the in-house wine bar, Helen’s, which was busy at this hour as well.
I was seated within a few minutes at a booth towards the middle of the room. Near the back of the restaurant, there was a busy bar and many more tables. The restaurant was small but it was filled with tables and booths to accommodate all the hungry diners coming in by the minute. Service was fast as we were introduced to our server quickly after being seated. There was a vast variety of appetizers, pizzas, salads and pastas on the menu, and thus Jon and Vinny’s is sure to please diners with all types of flavor palettes.
We ordered the margherita pizza, gem lettuce salad, meatballs, chicken parmesan, six-hour bolognese and the famous spicy fusilli pasta. As we ordered, we were informed by our server that each dish would likely come out a different time from others, which was not a concept I loved, but I was willing to wait for the hyped-up dishes I had ordered. First came the gem lettuce caesar salad, which was much better than I had anticipated. It was a modernized version of a classic caesar salad with about 8 gem lettuce leaves drizzled in salty and spicy caesar dressing and sprinkled with homemade garlic breadcrumbs. The lettuce was perfectly crunchy and made for a delectable bite when paired with the signature dressing and crunchy, aromatic breadcrumbs.
Next, we were served the meatballs, which were underwhelming on their own. The meatballs were quite basic and so was the marinara sauce it was served with, but the homemade ricotta cheese and crispy garlic toast that also came with it was exceptional. It was crispy and charred on the outside yet pillowy soft on the inside. After we ate the meatballs, the margherita pizza arrived to our table. The pizza was a favorite of mine, as the dough was similar to a light neapolitan-style pizza – crispy and bubbly on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. On top of the pizza was homemade marinara sauce, slices of melted mozzarella cheese and basil leaves, all of which were drizzled in olive oil. The ratio of all of the toppings was perfect, and each bite of the pizza resembled a New York-style pizza experience, which I loved.
After the pizza came the six-hour bolognese, which was another favorite of mine. The pasta seemed to be homemade it was perfectly cooked and had an unmatchably authentic texture. The bolognese sauce itself was also outstanding. It was unlike any homemade bolognese I had eaten before, with its meaty taste from the ground beef and simmered tomato sauce.
Within a minute of finishing the pasta, the chicken parmesan came to the table. The chicken was a bit too thin for my preference, but the sauce and cheese with the chicken paired nicely with the meat. Finally came the dish we had anticipated before we even started the meal- the coveted spicy fusilli with vodka sauce. I am a lover of pasta with vodka sauce, and I had high expectations for this dish considering the endless amount of great reviews and photos I had seen of it. This dish took quite a long time to come out (approximately 30 minutes after we ordered all of our food), but I was willing to wait. When it finally arrived, I dug in.
At that moment, I understood what all the hype was about. The expertly cooked pasta melted in my mouth, and the sauce had just the right amount of spice combined with creamy tomato taste. Sprinkled with parmesan cheese, this dish was one to write home about. I would definitely go to Jon and Vinny’s again just for this pasta- every bite was just right. After my experience at Jon and Vinny’s, I would definitely say that it is important to visit the restaurant with a hungry group of friends or family, as the food should be eaten family-style. Overall, my experience at Jon and Vinny’s was excellent. Servers were friendly, the environment was busy but upbeat, and the food was delectable. Jon and Vinny’s is a restaurant all pasta and pizza lovers should visit.