Jon & Vinny's
We're confident that even if you’ve never been to Jon & Vinny’s, you’re still reading this with some preconceived notion of the place. After all, the East Coast-style Italian spot on Fairfax (with locations now in Brentwood and Slauson) has been the most talked about, hyped-up, and over-analyzed restaurant in LA since opening in 2015. And we certainly contributed to the noise.
In our original 2015 review, we rated Jon & Vinny’s a 9.3, making it one of the highest rated restaurants on the site. We were blown away by the simple, well-executed pastas, razor-thin pizza with toppings like Yukon gold potatoes or ham and vodka sauce, and a cramped, cool space that felt like we were eating in the basement speakeasy of a Norwegian thermal spa. Sure, it took weeks to score even a midweek seat at the bar, but we were happy to do so all in the name of eating great food and experiencing a restaurant that had firmly centered LA in the national dining conversation.
So, what’s up with the place these days? We’ll say this: There’s still a lot to like about Jon & Vinny’s, you just need to know how and when to use its best elements.
For starters, always come for lunch. This has been a hack since 2015, but it still bears repeating: Jon & Vinny’s is open every day for lunch with the same menu as dinner and there are always tables available. Waiting weeks for a dinner reservation at Jon & Vinny’s is simply not the best use of your time anymore, but come with a friend for spicy gem salad, a plate of bright orange fusilli, and a burrata pizza at 12:30pm on a Tuesday? You’ll walk away very pleased.
Another option is to do takeout or delivery. Considering the J&V team converted nearby Animal into a full to-go space during the pandemic, they’re putting a major emphasis on it too. And frankly, it’s paid off. Even during peak weekend hours, takeout is smooth and seamless, the pastas are always the right temperature when you remove the lid at home, and most importantly, you don't have to wait half a moon cycle to eat it on a Saturday night.
Of course, if you really want to get dressed up and show off your riskiest pair of shoes on a Friday night here, no one’s going to stop you, but it also shouldn’t be a priority. Jon & Vinny’s is no longer the destination restaurant it used to be, and that’s OK, because it’s still a solid Italian spot that works great when it’s convenient for you. No need to analyze it any further.
This is still one of the best salads in LA and that’s a mountain we’re happy to die on. The lettuce itself is always perfectly crisp, the Calabrian dressing has a major kick of heat to it, and the bread crumbs on top provide even more of a crunch. It’s not a meal at J&V’s without a gem salad on the table.
These hide down in the big meats section, but they make for an ideal appetizer. They’re moist without being crumbly and even though it only comes with two, the meatballs themselves are big enough for a table of four to pick at.
Here it is–arguably the most famous plate of pasta in LA and probably the reason you got hooked on Jon & Vinny’s in the first place. And guess what? It’s still worth ordering. Yes, it can be a bit inconsistent at times (varying portion sizes, over-cooked noodles), but when it’s good, it’s great, and that spicy vodka sauce will be lathered in your dreams for weeks afterwards.
We loved this pizza when Jon & Vinny’s first opened, but the amount of toppings and ratio on each slice is completely off now. We’d recommend the chorizo-topped “El Chaparrito” or the immensely cheesy “White Lightning”.