Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo's Animal May Be Gone, But Its Popular Dishes Aren't Forgotten - Exclusive

There are many unique restaurants in the world. Some serve their food in total darkness, while others have turned sushi into a luxurious bite by serving caviar sushi rolls. But none compare to Animal. This unusual Los Angeles-based restaurant was a totally new creation when it came on the scene in 2008. Instead of serving tomahawks, ribeyes, and pork chops, chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo decided to serve other parts of the animal — parts that you don't normally find in a sit-down restaurant, or at least didn't when Animal originally opened. 

The award-winning masterminds chose to show off their cooking skills by serving up offal. Instead of a lovely plate of carpaccio, they offered chicken livers. Instead of a nice, thick filet, your options were an oxtail poutine or deep-fried pig ears served with a fried egg on top. It may not have been for everyone, but for 15 years, their restaurant was the place to go when carnivores wanted to step outside their comfort zone and enjoy a hearty meal. And now it's gone — shuttered just last year. 

Foodies may be wondering if they'll ever get the chance to devour those offbeat entrées again. Well, have no fear. Shook and Dotolo told us in an exclusive interview in advance of their upcoming dinner at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival that a few of their Animal dishes are still around at their other restaurants and by request at catered functions.

Some Animal dishes are available at Son of a Gun or Carmelized Productions

Even though not all the delicacies on Animal's menu are readily available, Shook told us there are a couple of ways to scratch that Animal itch. "We are doing the hamachi tostada at Son of a Gun currently," he said. "That dish did resonate over to there." And if you're planning a party, Shook said their catering company, Carmelized Productions, can recreate some of Animal's most popular dishes as well. 

While the chefs have several other restaurants throughout Los Angeles, Shook said he's just not sure the pig ears or bone burger fit the menus. But that doesn't mean those recipes are gone forever. "As it's in our recipe binder and in our recipe history, it might be asked for on the catering front," he explained. "I don't know that we currently have any plans to reintroduce Animal or some of those kinds of O.G. Animal dishes out into any of our other locations."

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival runs from February 22-25. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here.