Before there were Jon & Vinny’s sprinkled across Los Angeles, there was Animal. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s nose-to-tail minimalist restaurant (435 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles) put the catering duo on the culinary map and launched a slew of spinoffs before becoming a pantry goods store during the pandemic. Now that it has finally reopened, we checked in with Jon and Vinny to see if the beast remains the same. “Changing the concept was discussed briefly,” says Dotolo. “But for now we are playing the hits.” That means the famous poutine; crispy pig ear with red chili; and braised rabbit. Like other restaurants, Animal is dealing with supply chain and staffing issues, so it’s open Tuesday to Saturday, with a tight 20 dishes on the menu. “We are an older restaurant now, almost 14 years old, and we have always kept Animal an ever-evolving, flowing concept,” says Shook. Meanwhile, look for the new Beverly Hills location of Jon & Vinny’s (454 N. Bedford Dr.) to open in late summer or early fall.
Mandolin Taverna: Miami + Greek Islands
Downtown L.A.’s Soho Warehouse has a new dining option that serves the public and the exclusive club’s members alike. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Mandolin Taverna is an offshoot of Miami’s Mandolin Aegean Bistro. The spacious olive tree-shaded patio is a relaxing spot for cocktails and modern Mediterranean dishes like crispy flatbread with kefalograviera (that’s a type of cheese), whole sea bass, grilled lamb chops and what just might be the city’s best fried calamari. 1000 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles
Cirque de Gourmet
Getting people out of the house these days takes a fair amount of spectacle and razzle-dazzle. Enter Revive, an immersive ’20s-themed dining and performance space at downtown L.A.’s Vibiana, complete with 40 circus performers from San Francisco’s Vau de Vire Society as well as musicians, dancers and characters. Redbird chef Neal Fraser creates a four-course feast to go along the festivities, which include live music, rejuvenation stations and projection-mapped visuals. $250 per person; June 18-July 24. 214 S. Main St., Los Angeles; revive-la.com
The Sweetest Thing
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams has partnered with Cameron Diaz and Katherine Power’s Avaline wines for a limited-edition summer-ready concoction. House-made boysenberry preserves are infused with Avaline’s rosé, then combined with Central Coast grass-fed milk and cream. mcconnells.com