Jon & Vinny's Review: A slice of California cool in the Saudi capital

Jon & Vinny's Review: A slice of California cool in the Saudi capital



This is the first of many openings for the brand across the Kingdom.

Eating grandma’s cooking might not sound like a night out. When the cuisine is inspired by nonnas – aka Italian grandmothers – it is well worth a visit. That’s the idea behind the friends Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s restaurant, Jon & Vinny’s.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, the casual restaurant brings classic Italian flavours to the capital. The original locations have proven popular with celebrities and are a date night spot for A-list couples. Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z are just some of the names who have been spotted sharing slices of pizza. 

Jon & Vinny's

Jon & Vinny's in Riyadh is in good culinary company. The restaurant's neighbours in Al Dabbab include the FACT Award-winning Billionaire, Beefbar, ROKA and Signor Sassi. Entering beneath the striking green signage feels like stepping into a trendy California hangout, where diners are in for a taste of comforting Italian-American fare in a sleek, minimalist setting. Exposed wood, clean lines and stacks of pizza boxes create a contemporary space, while the open kitchen allows diners to be entertained by the culinary ballet of pizzaiolos wielding long-handled peels and flames dancing in the wood-fired oven. 

The menu is a love letter to simplicity. Pizzas are the star attraction, with each pie boasting perfectly blistered crusts and a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. From the classic Margherita (SAR 50) to the more adventurous "Tiber Island" (SAR 75) featuring fennel sausage, mushrooms and olives, or the ever-popular "L.A. Woman" (SAR 78), which piles local burrata upon a base of tomato, basil before topping it with a glug of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Don't sleep on the bruschetta – toasted bread piled high with combinations like ricotta, orange blossom honey, sesame seeds and a drizzle of honey.

Jon & Vinny's

While we expected to gravitate towards the spectacular pizzas, the pasta choices enamoured this seasoned diner. Cooked slightly al dente and begging to be twirled around your fork, both the Spicy Fusilli (SAR 65) with basil and parmigiano reggiano and the Rigatoni (SAR 65) with six-hour beef bolognese are worthy choices. However, the stunning Spaghetti Limone (SAR 65) won the FACT team over, offering a lighter option with a refreshing lemon zest punch and a nice textural crunch from the breadcrumbs. It's as perfect a plate of pasta as you're likely to find and is easily one of Jon & Vinny's best dishes.

While the portions are generous, save room for dessert. The cookies, which range from lemon ricotta to peanut butter variations, are soft and pillowy. For something traditional, the masterfully layered tiramisu (SAR 50) with mascarpone mousse and espresso is an indulgent choice. However, we'd suggest the stack of fluffy Laban Pancakes (AED 38) served with salted butter and maple syrup.

Jon & Vinny's Riyadh

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Jon & Vinny's has quickly become a favourite among Riyadh residents. Be prepared to wait as this hotspot attracts a steady stream of guests seeking a taste of tradition. Jon & Vinny's charm lies in its simplicity. It's a place with a reasonable price point, fun and funky staff and a menu of Italian-American comfort food.

Enjoy the nostalgia of grandma's kitchen, served with a touch of modern California cool.

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