Jonathan’s at Peirano’s
204 E. Main St.
Ventura
648-4853
$5-$15

 

Sullivan:It was a warm afternoon in downtown Ventura when my fellow food critic and I strolled into Jonathan’s at Peirano’s, located almost directly across from the Mission. Now, I have passed this bistro numerous times, thinking it looked a little too elegant or, really, too pricey, to entertain the idea of eating there. But to our pleasant surprise, what we had perceived to be true was in fact inaccurate: The prices were well within budget.

As we entered the cafe, I felt as though I had been transported to a Greek isle. The tapestry, décor and music fully embraced the culture of the Mediterranean. Almost nanoseconds after sitting down, our server returned with grilled pita bread and a nosh of three small portions of Greek cuisine: hummus, baba ganoush and lebneh, a creamy yogurt sauce. We enjoyed our complimentary appetizer so much that we had the waiter bring us two additional servings of pita to get every last bite.

While my original intention at Jonathan’s was to get a variety of tapas, all the tapas that were offered came free of charge, while extra portions could be purchased off the menu.

I ordered the Mediterranean chopped salad with chicken. My fellow reviewer ordered a mixed green salad, which we split, and a falafel pita.

Since I pride myself on being a connoisseur of the chopped salad, I believe this salad to be one of the best. Since I lack the talent to make a chopped salad or their fantastic garlic vinaigrette, I will undoubtedly have to go back for more, even though I won’t order the chicken again. The chicken lay oddly to the side of the salad and just didn’t spur me to finish it. Maybe chopped up and tossed in the salad would have been better.

For dessert, we decided to share a piece of the tiramisu. This was one of the best pieces of tiramisu I had ever had. The balance of bread and pudding with sugar and chocolate elated me. I mean, it was fantastic! So much for my diet!

Overall, lunch at Jonathan’s was great. Our server was friendly and efficient, our food was mouthwatering, and I will definitely go back for more.

 

Sisolak: For the sake of restaurant reviews, it’s always fun to imagine beforehand how the food at a certain establishment will be, what the service will be like, how satisfyingly the overall experience might measure up. It’s also interesting when last-minute changes of plans come into play.

Our initial plan was to assess for this week’s review an excursion to J’s Tapas for a meal consisting mostly of sampled dishes. So when a tug on the Main Street enclave’s front doors revealed it was locked to the hungry public on the outside, some improvisation was needed.

Lucky enough, Plan B became a visit to Jonathan’s at Peirano’s, the next-door establishment of which “J’s” is the offshoot offspring, for some Mediterranean fare under a mixed setting. Mixed, I say, if only for the décor, an odd incorporation of Egyptian imagery into a decidedly European setting — hieroglyphic scrawling and postured golden sarcophagi, framed on the walls, offset by the sounds and scents of the Greek islands.

There was no doubt I’d find some meatless options, respite from a world where vegetarians are still in the dietary minority. And confidence paid off; a quick scan of the menu confirmed a falafel sandwich was there to order, which I did.

Jonathan’s falafel is a half-pita/chopped combo, topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and a sharp tahini sauce. A neat package that was tasty and satisfying.

What my falafel sandwich and accompanying simple mixed salad shared was what appeared to be a luscious helping of chopped, dark-red peppers, but I stood corrected when discovering they were indeed tomatoes. I was also happy that restaurant policy dictated three different dipping options for the customary basket of pita bread.

For some reason, three pita baskets later, none of it seemed like enough to satiate my appetite this Friday afternoon. Was it insufficient portions, or a biased and very large appetite? Whatever reason, it justified an excuse to order some tiramisu, another dish where no two seem to be alike.

This one was the ladyfingers-inside-the-dessert kind, and aside from the slightly under-thawed texture, partnered with some hot coffee, I was feeling at this point transported out of Ventura and into somewhere like Corfu. It was almost a letdown to step back out into the real world of Main Street after the authenticity of Greece.

So, while Plan B thankfully worked out, I’m still wondering how those tapas would have tasted.