For more than three years, the 3,600-square-foot, former Nolen Kitchen space at the corner of Selwyn Avenue and Colony Road remained vacant. Nearby spots like Selwyn Avenue Pub and littleSpoon Eatery draw a younger crowd for game days and weekend brunches, but Selwyn Avenue residents of a certain age missed a neighborhood restaurant with consistently good food and cocktails on an inviting patio.
Jim Noble, whose restaurant portfolio includes Rooster’s, The King’s Kitchen, Copain, and Noble Smoke, signed a lease on the space in February 2020. But the pandemic delayed its opening for 15 months. Finally, in June 2021, the colorful, blocky signage appeared on the white brick exterior, and “now hiring” posters went up in the windows.
The Jimmy quietly opened in early July with a menu that focuses on wood-fired pizza and homemade pastas. The restaurant, modeled after trattorias and bistros along the Mediterranean coast, has a light and airy vibe with cream-colored brick, floor-to-ceiling windows, natural white oak tabletops, a teal bar backdrop, and pops of coral in the seat cushions.
Executive Chef Jason Neve (who splits his time between The Jimmy and Rooster’s) and Chef de Cuisine Vince Giancarlo (formerly of Zeppelin) lead the kitchen. The menu is divided into traditional Italian courses that include piatti piccolo (small plates), secondi (entrées), and contori (sides). The drink menu has Italian-inspired cocktails like a TJ Martini ($14) and a Derby Italiano ($12), while the temperature-controlled wine cellar houses bottles from Italy, France, Spain, and the U.S. The bar also has 18 craft beers on tap.
If you come on a clear night, grab a table on the pergola-covered patio. Servers welcome you with an Italian greeting, “Piacere” (“nice to meet you”), talk you through the menu, and encourage you to order your secondi first, as these entrées require more prep time. The dishes are all meant to be shared, so there’s no shame in ordering both pizza and pasta if you can’t decide.
For something to nibble, start with the Gnocco Fritto ($7), pillows of fried dough topped with hot honey and pecorino cheese shavings. You can also find Italian staples like Grilled Octopus ($16) and Burrata ($15) with basil pesto and toasted ciabatta from Copain. The insalatas include Radicchio Caesar Salad ($11) and Panzanella ($14) garnished with local peach, Copain bread, and anchovy vinaigrette.
The Jimmy’s 12-inch pizzas are made with 48-hour fermented dough, giving them a crunchy, airy crust with a subtle sourdough flavor. You can get a traditional Margherita ($15), but for something a bit more adventurous, try the Stonefruit ($16), a sweet pie topped with peach chutney, arugula, and sweet onion. The Funghi ($18), aka “Jimmy’s Pie,” has roasted mushrooms, taleggio cheese, and balsamic reduction. Though the taleggio may register as “stinky” cheese, it’s surprisingly mild and velvety against the tangy pizza crust.
Standout pasta dishes include Pappardelle ($24) with brisket ragu and Linguine ($21) with North Carolina shrimp, celery leaf pesto, and Calabrian chili. On the secondi side, find Grilled Joyce Farms Chicken ($26), Whole Grilled Fish ($28), and Roasted Pork Shoulder ($29). Pair any entrée with Fried Tuscan Potatoes ($8), Sauteed Escarole ($8), or Local Heirloom Peas ($10).
The desserts rotate regularly, but look for notables like Lemon Ricotta Cake and Honey Panna Cotta. If the Chocolate Olive Oil Torte is on the menu, order it (and if you went too heavy on the pasta, your server can pack it up to go). You’ll also find seasonal sorbets and gelatos.
At press time, The Jimmy was open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday and breakfast Monday through Friday. Breakfast service includes gourmet coffee and croissants, muffins, and other pastries from Copain. As Noble grows his team, he plans to add lunch service as well.
The dinner menu may look overwhelming with its Italian course names, but that’s the most intimidating thing about The Jimmy. Servers wear jeans with their white Oxfords, the colorful patio chairs are inviting, and the open kitchen says, “Come see what we’re serving up tonight.” If they can just keep it staffed, The Jimmy has all the makings of a Myers Park mainstay.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: The parking lot fills up fast in the evenings, but the restaurant offers complimentary valet and uses the lot at Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church across the street.
TAYLOR BOWLER is lifestyle editor of this magazine.