Everyone comes to LA with a glorified version of Hollywood in their head. After all, no matter where you grew up, you probably spent a portion of your childhood watching movies, TV shows, red carpets, and anything else that helps paints a tinsel-y portrait of our city’s most famous neighborhood - and the entire industry in general.
But then you get here and realize you’ve been duped. Because Hollywood is full of lost tourists and terrifying wax museums, and as for the state of the movie industry... that's a topic for a different day. But lost in the shuffle and the shattered misconceptions of our city sits Jones, a tremendous Italian restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd. that’s also the version of Hollywood we wish actually existed.
Here’s the thing about Jones - it's one of LA’s great restaurants, but it by no means serves the best food in town. You’re certainly going to have a good meal here, but this dimly-lit spot possesses something far rarer than an excellent bowl of pasta - the ability to make every person who walks through the door feel like a star. We’ve been eating regularly at Jones for well over a decade, and every time a dinner here gets put on our calendar, we get the same twinge of excitement we felt the first time we went. A meal here isn’t just one you look forward to, it’s one that changes the entire energy of your week.
It’s easy to assume that dinner at a restaurant with a private party room, celebrity regulars, and a cocktail named after Keith Moon is a production from start to finish, but rest assured, Jones is anything but. Yes, you’d be wise to snag a reservation in advance, and there’s a high probability you’ll end up sitting next to the cast of a Freeform show you fall asleep to, but at the end of the day, that’s what makes Jones great. This is a neighborhood restaurant that puts everyone on an equal plane. And that’s exactly why we’ll find any excuse to come here.
We’ve taken important clients to Jones, split spaghetti and meatballs and a sizzling apple pie with family members, and fallen in love with people. We’ve showed up with big groups at 11pm on a weeknight for their late-night Happy Hour and $7.50 margherita pizza. Sometimes, we’ll just sit at the bar with a friend, snacking on perfectly fried calamari, sipping our favorite martini in town, and hashing out life to the best of our abilities. Jones is the ultimate catch-all restaurant - a place that impresses and comforts, and treats you like a legend and a regular at the same time.
People spend their entire careers in LA looking for the “real” Hollywood, but the truth is, it doesn’t actually exist. Not on Hollywood Blvd., not on the patio at The Ivy, and not even at Ellen DeGeneres’s house on game night. So throw out all your idealized notions, and go create your own version at Jones Hollywood. We’ll be at the bar when you get here.
There are a number of appetizers at Jones that’ll call your name, but make sure the one you answer is the calamari. Perfectly fried and slightly buttery, with an addictive spicy marinara sauce on the side for dipping, it’s one of the best apps in LA.
Yes, this is the free bread that’s put on the table, and yes, it will absolutely be a highlight of your meal. It’s basically seasoned flatbread, but when combined with a little olive oil, balsamic, and pepper, you’ll wonder if you even needed to order an entree.
It’s not our favorite chopped salad in town, but this is still a solid version and will certainly scratch the itch if you’re craving one.
Jones has quality pizzas across the board, but our go-to is always the spicy sausage. Crispy thin crust, onions and mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, and sausage with an actual kick to it. It’s extremely well-balanced and at $16.50, a complete steal if you want to split it with somebody.
Full disclosure, this is the dish that made us fall in love with Jones over a decade ago, and is still the dish we point any first-timers to. Served in a cast iron skillet with meat ragu and Parmigiano, this might not be the most elevated spaghetti and meatballs you’ve ever eaten, but goddamn, is it good.
Even after all these years, this is still the most underrated dessert in the whole city. It’s a giant slice of homemade apple pie served on a cast iron skillet with a giant bath of sizzling brown sugar bubbling underneath. We’ve eaten this dish approximately 500 times, and it still makes us audibly gasp when it hits the table. Please share responsibly.