Visionary chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo run a handful of L.A.’s most talked-about restaurants—from the carnivore-paradise Animal, to Son of a Gun, Trois Mec, Jon & Vinny’s and more—so when they go anywhere, we want to know exactly what they’re eating, drinking and thinking. Jon, pictured above left, and Vinny, right, just spent five June days in New York City, in part to promote their curated Los Angeles restaurant guide for S. Pellegrino’s new Taste Guide series, and mostly to eat virtually non-stop. Here, they give The Feast a rundown of where and what they ate every single day. This agenda might sound superhuman, but we don’t feel the least bit sorry for these guys. We just hope we get to tag along next time. This diary was narrated by Vinny, speaking for himself and Jon—and sometimes just speaking for himself:
“Stayed at the Bowery. It's my favorite. It’s not about modernized details but it’s exactly what you want. They keep the keys when you check in and you check out, old-school. Dinner was at Wildair. I adored the soft shell crab. It was incredible. It had Old Bay mayo. The pork Milanese was just simple in form but delicious. Everything speaks for itself there, and it’s a cool space.”
“Sadelle’s feels very fancy. We had the babka, bagels and smoked sturgeon. The blintzes there are killer. Then we went to Mission Chinese. I f---ing ate a lot. Angela [the chef de cuisine] and everyone there threw down. The green-tea noodles were out-of-this-world good. They’re doing a new fried rice that had shiso and ume and that was great.”
“I took our sous-chefs to Katz’s since I hadn't been there before. The ticket system is cool. I wanted to show the sous-chefs the juxtaposition of these restaurants all in the same area.
We did lunch at Lupa, ordered the pasta. It’s always good. I always mix it up between new and old. I want to eat stuff that I know, and I'm intrigued by the new stuff but I also want to have the comfort. We went to Roberta's for dinner. I love the food there. It's amazing: People should be paying them a finder’s fee. They made Bushwick. So many businesses have built up around their popularity. The diversity, everything happening around that property is amazing. Blanca [from the same owners] is so focused and refined, so light. It’s one of my favorite menus to eat anywhere. At Roberta’s, you’re hammered and you’re eating pizza. Jon and I are obsessed with Italian ice lately. So we walked to Court Pastry Shop because the Italian ice there is incredible. The lemon, the chocolate.”
“I went to Estela by myself. My friend bailed on me, so I just went. In NYC you feel like you need to be with people all the time, but I like to be by myself sometimes. At Estela I had the monkfish, which after eating a ton was nice and light. I had the celery salad. I'd been eating so much so that was great.”
“Prune is one of my favorite places. It was one of the most inspiring restaurants for Jon and me back in 2000, 2001. Michelle Bernstein told us to work there when she was our boss at the Strand. It was one of those places that was inspirational for its point of view; it made us think, ‘I can open a restaurant like that.’ I went for brunch the other day. My wife and I got married seven years ago this summer, and [Prune chef/owner] Gabrielle Hamilton did the food. It's everything you want from a brunch, the best Bloody Mary, and the Grape Nuts with cold maple syrup and ice cream.
I love that Gabrielle is not afraid to use storebought ice cream cones in a dish. We ordered that Grape Nuts dish and then three tables around us got it. People don’t read menus anymore. My eggs Benedict was perfect. The potato rotini was amazing. If I'm gonna wait in line for breakfast anywhere it’s there. It's Bloody Marys to Grape Nuts with ice cream and everywhere in between.
We went to Café Altro Paradiso for dinner. I love the way he [chef Ignacio Mattos] cooks with acid flavors, simple but complex. The beef carpaccio feels rich but light.”
Cafe Altro Paradiso
And what caffeine spot helped fuel the adventures? “El Rey. I love the coffee there.” Vinny went multiple times during the five-day trip, too many times to recall.
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