Big news out of Marina del Rey: After eight months of serving Jason Neroni's refined take on East Coast seafood, Catch & Release will close today in order to make way for a new restaurant concept that will debut in the spring.
Don't worry, chef Jason Neroni will still be involved, as will Sprout L.A., the management group behind restaurants such as Bestia, République and Otium — the same group that recently saw founder Bill Chait step down as managing partner.
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Sprout L.A. reps insist that the Marina del Rey community "embraced Catch & Release with open arms over this past year," but in the long term they decided to veer back to "chef Neroni’s roots and true passion for Italian cooking." According to a press release, Neroni will be opening "a fun and casual, family-style Italian restaurant, meant to invoke a sense of comfort and accessibility for all guests."
On the menu will be Roman-style pizza, pastas, salads and Italian classics such as pork milanese and eggplant Parmesan. The restaurant will aim to accommodate kids and families, and will offer pick-up service as well as delivery.
If the unnamed restaurant sounds a lot like Jon & Vinny's, the approachable, all-day, red-sauce Italian-American restaurant from Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo that now commands hourlong waits on weekends, that probably isn't coincidence. Chefs with kids (like Neroni) are putting more emphasis on opening restaurants that make families feel welcome.
We'll certainly miss the HoJo clam strips at Catch & Release and will be curious to see if any of its dishes end up on the new restaurant's menu (those Parker House rolls!), but in the end, it's hard not to be excited to see what Neroni comes up with next — even if it means closing a restaurant with a three-star review.