Monday, May 23, 2011

JBF LTD: Jon Shook, Vinnie Dotolo and Frank Castronovo, Frank Falcinelli

Known for their uniquely "meaty" approach to food, I was intrigued when the JBF LTD announced a series of meals featuring Los Angeles chefs Jon Shook and Vinnie Dotolo of Animal and Son of a Gun. But after I noticed they were scheduled to cook alongside the Franks of Frankie's Spuntino and Prime Meats, I was determined to get tickets. Having heard good things from a co-worker who attended an earlier meal with the Animal guys, I was looking forward to this collaboration.

As with the dinner with Laurent Gras, we checked our belongings at the door and snacked a bowl of Mixed Nuts which were washed down with glasses of Mionetto Prosecco, Italy NV.

Seated at the familiar communal table, the meal's first course was a Blood Orange Salad with Sette Anni Pepperoncini, Olives and Parsley. Prepared by the Franks, the flavors of the salad popped, as the acid from the orange, heat of the pickled pepperoncini and salt of the olives helped whet our appetite. Paired with a Dry Creek Vineyard Fume Blanc Sonoma, California 2007, this was very nice.

Next was another dish from the Franks, Trofi Pasta with Fava Beans. Served with a light tomato sauce and breadcrumbs for texture, the pasta was perfectly al dente and prominently showcased fresh fava beans, a nod to Spring. Served with a Patz & Hall Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, California 2008, in my opinion, this was the weakest pairing of the evening.

Excited to finally sample Shook and Dotolo's food, the third course was Balsamic Pork Ribs with Chicory, Fennel Salad and Pistachio, which did not disappoint. The ribs themselves were wonderfully cooked, practically falling off the bone. But what amazed me was how well all of the flavor profiles complimented each other. The balsamic that adorned the ribs had been heavily reduced, resulting in a sweet glaze that tasted incredible with the fatty pork. With the bitterness of the deceptively simple salad, it was a great one-two punch. Paired with a Renwood Sierra Foothills Zinfandel, California 2007, the rich flavor and notes of pepper proved genius.

The last savory dish of the evening enjoyed the dubious honor of having the biggest potential to fail. Fortunately, it did not. The Flat Iron Steak with Truffle Parmesan Fondue, Sunchoke and Potato Hash was simply excellent. Bursting with flavor, my concerns that the truffle might overwhelm the beef, were erased upon my first bite. Instead, the minerally beef was more than capable of standing up to the rich fondue and was washed down with a Montgras Carmenere Reserva, Chile 2008.

The two desserts were served together, but were given out individually to those less inclined to share. The Franks served an Olive Oil Cake with Rhubarb and Marscarpone, while the L.A. chefs presented Berries with a Vanilla Custard, Lavender Crumble and Opal Basil. The olive oil cake was fine. Moist and light, it derived a majority of its flavor from the tart rhubarb and marscarpone. On the other hand, the berries with vanilla custard was better, and the clear favorite amongst the table. I enjoyed how the aromatic flavors of the lavender and basil were incorporated into the dessert without being too dominant.

Lingering over unfinished wine, MW and I stayed and thanked the chefs. Having eaten at both the Franks' restaurants in Brooklyn, we were familiar with their food, but really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with Chefs Shook and Dotolo who just may have convinced me to take a trip to L.A.

This meal was among a series of dinners hosted by the JBF LTD. To read about the other meals attended click here.


75 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

To see all the pictures from this meal click HERE.


  1. any meal that has 2 meat courses is a win in my book!

    i was glad to get a chance to sample dishes from Animal and Son of a Gun a couple nights before. Jon & Vinny put out great food.

  2. My co-worker who attended the same meal said the foie gras and biscuit with maple gravy was amazing.

  3. I got an email to purchase these tickets but thought that the price was high. Do you think that the meal and experience was worth the money?

  4. @Hungry - I do. The price was good for 6-courses, but even better when you factor in all the wine pairings and coffee.