It seems like I have been hearing accolade after accolade for Young Joni for the past year… because I have! When they ranked on multiple local, national and even international lists for best new restaurant in 2017 it was obvious we needed to check it out. I put it on our must-visit list for January. The next day a gift certificate for Young Joni arrived from our awesome social/web team at Hook Agency… great minds must think alike!
We were already fans of inventive Pizzeria Lola in SW Minneapolis and casual Hello Pizza! in Edina, but Young Joni in NE Minneapolis brings a whole new dimension to Chef Ann Kim’s trio of pizza restaurants. With simple copper wood fired ovens at the heart of the cooking, the multiple ovens are also the centerpiece of the uniquely designed restaurant… with the kitchen, bar and dining areas all sharing the same open and airy space.
When we arrived, there were no traditional tables available, but there was room at a quiet back bar, the center bar that wraps around the kitchen and cuts a big diagonal through the space, and the wood fire oven bar where a father and young son were watching the cooking in the open oven. We chose the large communal table in the photo below… more about that in a little bit.
We are lovers of wood-fired pizza so of course had to order that. We chose Korean BBQ pizza – beef short ribs, mozzarella, scallion, arugula, sesame, soy chili vinaigrette – loved the sweet/spicy flavor and blend of ingredients with no red sauce. The Grilled Chili Blue Prawns came with heads and eyeballs staring at us… and yes, they were delicious.
But the piece de resistance, the dish that has had me lusting after it long after we were gone and yearning to return was the dish simply named...
Don't let the simple name fool you, it is anything but simple! Cooked in the wood fire oven, it is a sophisticated, smoky, creamy, tart and sweet savory dish with cauliflower, shishito peppers, saffron chermoula, pickled fresno, golden raisins, almond picada and cauliflower yogurt that is simply amazing! I was lucky enough to have some leftovers to take home, which lasted less than a day because it was so good I couldn't wait for more!!
What Young Joni does so well is create an ambiance that is not only spare and chic but also comfortable and encouraging conversation with both old friends and new table-mates sharing the same experience. We sat at a big communal table, thoughtfully designed to accommodate groups up to four at each corner with some privacy, also providing a wonderful space for big groups, and also inviting you to interact with other groups at your table. And yes, you can actually hear each other talk if you choose to do so! We exchanged photo ops with the group near us at our table and learned they were just moving to Minneapolis… so of course we had to share how lucky they are to be moving to this wonderful community!