Comfort food isn’t easy to find in Miami, and good comfort food is almost deceased. At least that was the case before Jack’s Home Cooking (2426 NE Second Ave., Miami) opened December 9. Former nightclub owner and hospitality veteran Alan Roth teamed up with his friend John Parlavechio to give guests a second home at Jack’s, serving recipes "your grandmother or mother used to make." JP, as Parlavechio prefers to be called, uses his grandma’s recipes from more than five decades ago.
The Wynwood eatery pays tribute to all famous people named Jack, with pictures of everyone from Jack Klugman to Tim Burton's Jack Skellington on the walls. Jack Nicholson, in particular, is the reason for the name obsession. A few years ago, JP managed actor Mickey Rourke. During their travels, he befriended Nicholson. After cooking for the famous actor a number of times, friends would tease JP by saying, "You don't know Jack." When JP and Roth were thinking about restaurant names, they wanted to honor all of the iconic Jacks they knew.
Before opening Jack's, JP owned the New York restauarnt Zio Luigi in the early '90s and worked in restaurants his whole life. A self-admitted cook rather than chef, he grew up in the kitchens of his mother and grandmother. According to Roth, "He's not looking to win any awards but, instead, hearts and stomachs one meal at a time."
Jack's was opened with both quality and value in mind. “It's important our guests walk out feeling as if they had a great meal and the prices were perfect," Roth says. "I believe somewhere along the way, so many restaurants forgot the definition of hospitality, when waiters know what certain customers want before they order and the restaurant team is grateful to have each and every customer. If nothing else, we want to give people a beautiful experience each and every visit."
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The menu comprises classic Italian dishes, including homemade sweet Italian San Gennaro sausage ($10) with red, yellow, and green peppers and onions; Nonna’s homemade meatballs ($10), smothered in Sunday gravy (a meat-infused tomato sauce); spaghetti bolognese ($10), sautéed with a blend of ground sirloin, veal, and a plum tomato sauce; and braised short ribs ($19), cooked slowly and served over a bed of sautéed vegetables. If there’s one time to visit, it’s for the Sunday gravy special, which includes an appetizer, a glass of wine, and family-style Sunday gravy with Nonna's meatballs and pasta for $25.
The family-friendly restaurant also offers a kids' menu for children 10 and under. Selections such as spaghetti with meatballs and English muffin pizzas come with an ice-cream sundae for $7. Adults can enjoy wine and local beers, including selections from Wynwood Brewing Co. ($6).
Jack's Home Cooking is open for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 4 to 11 p.m. Lunch service is scheduled to begin mid-January.