Time for pizza. Jon & Vinny's, the highly anticipated Italian restaurant from Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, is finally opening its doors Monday, more or less across the street from the pair's first restaurant, Animal, on Fairfax Avenue.
Jon & Vinny's opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, including delivery. Because if this is your fourth restaurant and you've conveniently moved your catering business next door, who needs a soft opening?
Shook and Dotolo's red sauce adventure has been a long time coming. The two took over the space, previously home of Damiano Mr. Pizza, two years ago, just after they opened Trois Mec with Ludo Lefebvre. (Shook, Dotolo and Lefebvre opened Petit Trois in July of last year.) In the meantime, the two chefs, both of whom have young children, decided they wanted a restaurant where they could not only bring their own kids — but everybody else's.
"People were, like, 'Foie gras pizza!'" says Dotolo. "It's so not the direction we're going."
Because while you can order foie at Animal, what you'll find at Jon & Vinny's is a menu of pizzas and pastas, all made in-house. You'll find Italian pastries and breakfast pizzas, baked eggs and Bolognese sauce, antipasto and meatballs, even "crust dip" with three kinds of dips, and tiramisu.
"We already do the seafood thing and the meat thing," says Dotolo, neatly describing both Son of a Gun and Animal restaurants. "There are so many things we're trying not to do here."
What they're not trying to do is over-complicate things. You can order a plate of lamb agnolotti, but also fusilli with a simple red vodka sauce. The pizzas are named after their kids — "Sonny's Favorite" for Dotolo's young son, which features bacon, tomato sauce and cheese; and "Little Nat's," a pepperoni pizza, for Shook's daughter Natalie. There's a plate of Italian cookies near the door, a Carpigiani soft-serve ice cream machine, and paper placemats that come with crayons.
That said, the place isn't just for kids. The lofty space, done in pale white oak, seats 45 and has a counter in front of the open kitchen — and may be the only takeout pizzeria in town with a temperature-controlled wine room in the back.
Walk through to the back of the dining room, and you'll see a window into a room that's decidedly for grown-ups. This is Helen's — in keeping with the first name basis of the new project — and is from Helen Johannesen, Shook and Dotolo's longtime director of operations. With a capacity for more than 1,000 bottles, Johannesen's wine shop is a cozy, carpeted room where she can offer tastings and sell wines, all with a view of the restaurant and the fires in the kitchen.
Look above the counter space to the rows and rows of Jon & Vinny's green and white pizza boxes stacked into shelves. Consider the changing table going into the bathroom, the branded T-shirts ("No slices!"), the Strauss Family Creamery milk in the soft-serve machine, the 48-hour rising time for the pizza dough, the busy catering kitchen that hums on the other side of the northern wall, and you'll see what Dotolo and Shook have been working on for the last two years.
"This is actually harder to do than Animal," says Dotolo. "Pizza is a very humbling thing."
Jon & Vinny's: 412 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 334-3369.
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