clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Dishes from Jemma restaurant in Hollywood.
Dishes from Jemma in Hollywood.

Filed under:

Bask in Italian American Comfort Food at This New Hollywood Haunt

Chef Jackson Kalb’s Jemma opens this week on the ground floor of the Aster Hotel with pizza, pasta, and more red sauce favorites

Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Jackson Kalb is most excited about the Italian beef sandwich served on a silver platter at his new Hollywood restaurant Jemma. “We are making bread in-house and spent a year-and-a-half developing it,” he says. Using shaved prime rib, Cooper’s sharp American cheese, giardiniera, horseradish, and jus on the side, it’s equal parts Chicago and LA.

Kalb built a career cooking approachable Italian American food at the neighborhood spot Jame in El Segundo, the destination-worthy Ospi in Venice, and the seafood-centric Jemma di Mare in Brentwood. But Jemma, opening on Friday, October 27 on the ground floor of the Aster Hotel in Hollywood, could be Kalb’s most complete expression of red sauce Italian American food thus far, serving fresh pasta made daily on the premises, thin-crust pizza dough that took four years to perfect, and shareable entrees like pork osso buco. And of course, hefty deli-style sandwiches — even for dinner.

Occupying about 4,000 square feet with room for just over 100 people, Jemma’s versatile menu has all the intricacies of a top-flight Italian restaurant without the fanciness of Funke, the expense of La Dolce Vita, or the difficulty of nabbing a table like Donna’s.

Kalb’s menu at Jemma also recalls his other restaurants, including Jemma di Mare’s fontina and caciocavallo-topped garlic bread and veal Parmigiana; Jame’s kale salad with almond dressing and angel hair pasta with pomodoro; and Ospi’s spicy Calabrian soppressata and honey pizza. Spicy rigatoni alla vodka plays into the trend that Carbone popularized in New York City while the mandilli (hankerchief pasta) covered with silky almond-pine nut pesto points to Kalb’s past tenure at Arts District’s Factory Kitchen. Other riffs on Italian American classics include chicken Milanese with brown butter, roasted chicken scarpariello, spicy eggplant Parm, and crispy Rhode Island calamari. In addition to Italian beef sandwiches, there are crispy chicken or eggplant Parm sandwiches, along with chicken pesto and burrata caprese options.

The restaurant’s ingredient details are worth touting. The pizza crust uses Cairnspring Mills flour that’s fermented for over two days, while the sauce is made with ripened tomatoes from Lodi, California. Pastas are made with a blend of Italian and domestic wheat flours and local, pasture-raised eggs. And while pizza snobs might flair their noses at ranch, marinara, or vodka sauce dips, Kalb is embracing the chain pizza delivery tradition.

The cocktail list features many types of Negronis and martinis, plus several light creations like a limoncello spritz with lemongrass and prosecco. Wines by the glass alternate between California and Italy, plus a few French picks. Two mocktails — a raspberry-cucumber number and a ginger, mint, and makrut sipper — make sure no one feels left out.

Jemma and its celebration of Italian American fare joins a number of recent openings catering to the carb-loving hearts of Angelenos including Dante in Beverly Hills, La Bettola di Terroni on Larchmont Avenue, and Best Bet in Culver City.

Jemma Hollywood is located at 1717 Vine Street and serves lunch and dinner dailyfrom 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and until 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Reservations are available on OpenTable, with validated parking in the hotel.

Dimly lit, chandelier-filled interior of Jemma, with tables, booths, and open kitchen to the rear.
Dimly lit, chandelier-filled interior with tables, booths, and an open kitchen to the rear.
Tables and booths at Jemma in Hollywood.
Tables and booths.
Seating in the middle of Jemma with teal and maroon banquettes.
Seating in the middle of the dining room.
The bright bar area with plush stools.
The bar area with plush stools.
A view into the open kitchen of Jemma in Hollywood.
A view into the open kitchen.
A spritz with limoncello, lemon slice, and fresh mint at Jemma Hollywood.
Limoncello spritz.
Bellezza cocktail at Jemma Hollywood.
Bellezza cocktail.
Antipasti chop salad from Jemma Hollywood.
Antipasti chop salad.
Crispy Rhode Island calamari at Jemma Hollywood.
Crispy Rhode Island calamari.
Branzino with salsa verde at Jemma Hollywood.
Branzino with peanut salsa diavola.
Linguine alla vongole at Jemma Hollywood.
Linguine alla vongole.
Prosciutto and serrano.
Prosciutto and serrano hams with zeppole.
Pizza in the oven at Jemma Hollywood.
Pizza in the oven.
CPJ pizza at Jemma Hollywood.
CPJ pizza with chicken, lambrusco barbecue sauce, red onion, cilantro, pineapple, and Fresno chiles.
The Daniele pizza at Jemma Hollywood.
Daniele pizza with cacio e pepe.
Pork osso buco at Jemma Hollywood with parsley garnish.
Pork osso buco with potato puree and lambrusco glaze.
Jame Martini at Jemma Hollywood.
Jame martini.
Espresso martini at Jemma Hollywood.
Espresso martini.
Radiatore pasta at Jemma Hollywood.
Radiatore pasta with pork sausage sugo, fennel pollen, and pecorino Romano.
Bone-in pork chop at Jemma Hollywood.
Bone-in pork chop.
Coming Attractions

The Badmaash Team’s Next Restaurant Will Serve Indian Chinese Food

AM Intel

Silver Lake’s Treasured Cuban Spot Café Tropical Closes Forever This Week

Where to Eat in LA Right Now

Warm Smothered Biscuits Arrive in Mid-City — And More Under-the-Radar Openings in LA