Little Original Joe’s, the new spinoff from the wildly popular Original Joe’s, opened today in West Portal. Unlike the Original Joe’s locations in North Beach and Westlake, which serve Italian-American steak with a side of ravioli to red leather booths, Little Original Joe’s is a snappy counter and market with retail and to-go offerings, focusing on “pizza, pasta, and parmigiana” (chef’s kiss). The new spot was originally announced last summer, but a long year and a half later, the wait is finally over — the lasagna has officially landed just in time for Christmas.
The menu for hot items delivers all of those promised carbs, as well as some salads and rotisserie chickens. Starters include garlic Parmesan knots and a little gem Caesar salad, while the pastas hit the red sauce classics with spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli, and lasagna. There are several options for parmigiana, breading and frying chicken, meatballs, and eggplant.
The pizza list runs the longest, which is bold, given that Original Joe’s has never slung pizza before. In addition to fully loaded Italian pies with sausage, pepperoni, salami, mushrooms, and peppers, they’re also dabbling in Californian barbecue chicken and even Hawaiian with its divisive pineapple. Lunch offerings include soups, salads, and sandwiches, including a serious Italian contender with four types of meat on a ciabatta roll. And there’s even soft serve for dessert, which can be topped with butter cake crumbles. Check out the dinner menu, below.
At the corner of West Portal Ave and 15th Ave, Little Original Joe’s is taking over the former Paradise Pizza location, in a sweet spot in a tree-lined neighborhood. The renovation looks snappy, with a black awnings and tiled floors. Shoppers step up to the counter to order hot dishes, with a big open kitchen to the left firing pizza. Or they can stroll around to the right to browse the shelves stocked with wine, canned tomatoes, tinned fish, and more. In the back, cold cases are stuffed with trays of lasagna and shells, tubs of bolognese and creamed spinach, and never least, artichoke dip.
Original Joe’s North Beach made local news last week because the restaurant was still heating their outdoor parklet, where diners were sitting down with takeout boxes, despite lockdown orders. Original Joe’s Westlake has outdoor dining as well, but that is in accordance with the rules, which is admittedly confusing — even though the restaurants are only ten miles apart, the Westlake location is technically in San Mateo County, where outdoor dining is allowed.
Little Original Joe’s opens today, December 14. According to Google, they plan to be open every day of the week, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.