Meet Ann Kim, owner of the new NE Minneapolis restaurant Young Joni. She is a Minneapolis icon when it comes to her pizza establishments. She also owns two other places in town: Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza. My sister Annie and I ventured out on snowy Friday night to try her new restaurant and ladies, Ann is killing it.
Young Joni was bustling - us Minnesotans sure didn't let the snow storms stop us. We snuggled up to the bar, overlooking the restaurant, which I loved. Young Joni has a very open, yet homey feel. It reminded me of my years living in New York City. Packed restaurants, busy kitchen staff - a feeling that you are in the action.
Young Joni's menu has a fun mix of pan-Asian, Italian and Midwestern flair. The cauliflower appetizer was rockin'. Just enough spice for our Nordic palate. We shared the Korean BBQ pizza, one of Ann Kim's specialties. Honestly, I know that sharing is caring and all, but wish I would have had my own. So. Damn. Good.
I think my parents fed me too much sugar when I was young, because I can't end an evening without dessert. My hankering sweet tooth is annoyingly insatiable. The good news is that Young Joni had my ideal dessert on the menu - Church Basement Bars. A fancy brownie, lemon and Special K bar. I love the Midwest.
The bartender encouraged us to check out their back bar after our meal. It's hidden down the back alley without any indication besides a glowing red light. For those who want to call it a speakeasy clearly haven't been to the Wisconsin basements of my youth. Because that is exactly what it is - a Midwestern basement from the 1970s. Ideal. They do such a perfect job making it feel like a basement, that Annie had to keep reminding me that we never actually went down any stairs to reach the bar. I will nonetheless continue to call it the Young Joni Basement Bar.
I've been living in Minneapolis for 3 years now and my night at Young Joni made me feel perfectly at home for the first time.
The new restaurant of Ann Kim's makes me proud to be a Minneapolitan. My heart (and stomach) is so full. Thank you, Ann!