Downtown Johnny’s

The Valley has been a booming destination this past year with its numerous and notable restaurant and bar openings. And now Downtown Johnny’s in Sherman Oaks is adding some good food and good times to the bustling Ventura Boulevard corridor.

The restaurant ( formerly an industrial space), has been fully renovated with reclaimed wood wrapping the dining room and outside patio, and a 58-foot bar and vintage booths set atop a 14 inch raised platform. Every seat has a great view for sports fans with six televisions behind the bar, two on the patio, and a pair of 9 foot drop down screens that show big games as well as black and white movies in the late night hours.

“My Uncle Johnny introduced my family to the hospitality business with his nightclub back in 1980,” says Richard DiSisto (Principal, Vantage Restaurant Group) of the spot’s namesake,” and his advice to me was always to keep it simple.”

Now, 35 years and many successful restaurants and bars later, DiSisto is heeding that advice with his modern sports tavern. “The art of hospitality is all about people coming in and having a great time,” he says. “Downtown Johnny’s really goes back to basics, it is just down to earth food, approachable cocktails, a long and versatile beer list, and a great time!”

Vantage Restaurant Group Executive Chef Marc Johnson, also in charge of overseeing the kitchen and creativity at DiSisto’s neighboring seafood-inspired Tipple & Brine, created a menu of what he calls “modern tavern cuisine” for Downtown Johnny’s. “Anyone walking down the street can come in and find something they will like,” Johnson says, “but I didn’t want your typical sports-bar-food, so I elevated it with modern technique, quality ingredients and unique presentation.” Drop into this local haven for after work happy hour, a leisurely dinner, a fun date or to watch  a game.

The philosophy is well reflected in Downtown Johnny’s selection of “Get Started.”

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Johnson prepares the Big Ass 14″ Bavarian Pretzel served with honey-dijon & cheddar jalapeno dipping sauce;  Southern Fried Chicken Strips; Tuna Tartar; Truffle Macaroni & Cheese with speck and black truffles; Classic Deviled Eggs, kicked up a notch with  with kimchi and bottarga; Wings-buffalo style, medium or sweet and spicy; Shrimp Cocktail; and Tater Tots with bacon, cheddar, and sriracha ketchup. “From the Field” salads include: the House Chopped with chicken, salami, gabanzo; red wine vinegar dressing; Caesar;  and Mixed Greens with champagne vinaigrette . “In The Hand” has  a long list of , burgers, sandwiches and tacos that will satisfy any  taste. They include the Downtown Burger; Bacon-Blue Burger; Classic Burger; Beef Sliders; Fried Chicken Sliders; Grilled Veggie Sandwich; Chicken and Steak Tacos.  “Handcrafted Pizza” piping hot presentations are the Margherita; Crimini Mushroom; Bacon Sweet Onion; and Spicy Italian.  For “The Finish”  there’s  Bread Pudding with seasonal  fruit, caramel drizzle and powdered sugar;  and Dough Boys made with fried pizza dough, powdered sugar and chocolate sauce.

“I have not been this excited in a long time,” Di Sisto says of Johnson’s dishes. “I  can genuinely say that I really like every single thing on the menu.”  The goal with Johnson’s menu is to keep everybody happy, and that really does mean everybody.

Johnson plans to change the menu with each season to incorporate what is fresh. “Switching things up keeps me interested ,and it also keeps diners coming back to try something new “he says.

When it comes to beverages, Downtown Johnny’s embraces  the same something-for-everyone vibe. “There is a huge spectrum of flavor profiles on both the cocktail and beer lists. We definitely cover all the bases,” says Bar Director Daniel Ponsky, a 21-year veteran of the hospitality business who has slung drinks at such notable spots as Chapter 8 Steak House in Agoura Hills, Vitello’s in Studio City, and Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City.

When it comes to cocktails, “my philosophy is to keep the focus on the spirit and use the other ingredients to accentuate it,” Ponsky says. His list of eight cocktails features deceptively simple concoctions with deliciously deep flavors like the 1st Street, a mix of gin, cucumber, lime, Fresno chiles and house-made  ginger beer; or the Rye-in-the-Eye, a rye based Whiskey Sour with a float of cabernet wine on top.

Downtown Johnny’s features 20 beers on tap, plus another 35 bottles and 6 cans. The selection focuses on local and regional brews (all but five of the draft beers are made in California), but also encompasses a wide range of styles from around the world. Some of the more unique options are Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout, a lush brew from San Diego that is like a Reese’s Cup in a glass; Fruli Strawberry Beer a sour and fruity concoction from Belgium; sand  Stoner Duck Hemp Brown Ale, a toasty and nutty brew made just a short distance away in Venice with a bit of herbaceousness from real hemp seeds. Four of the 20 taps will also rotate weekly, showcasing seasonal and other special beers by California breweries.

Wines -Keg Wines-Chardonnay, Pinot  Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir

Bubbles- Veuve Clicquot; Segur Viudas Prosecco (split)

 

Downtown Johnny’s is open Monday to Friday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

                                                            Saturday noon to 2 a.m.

                                                            Sundays 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

                                                            Happy Hour-7 days a week from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Located at 14649 Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, Phone (818) 205- 1616 orwww.downtownjohnnys.com

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