Tastemaker: Jonathan's the Rub

Jonathan Levine's restaurants are not only Memorial area favorites, but sought after restaurants in the foodie capital of Texas.

Article by Gabi De la Rosa

Photography by Monarch Atelier

Originally published in Memorial Lifestyle

Jonathan Levine has connected with Houston in a way many do - through food. The Northeast transplant landed in Houston in 2003 when several family members moved, and he followed. After enjoying the food scene for several years, Levine began catering and doing personal chef work in 2006. 

Having owned three restaurants in Cape Cod, Levine was not eager to get back into the restaurant business. But when he did, he garnered a loyal and consistent Houston following quickly. “The catering clientele that we worked with kept saying they wanted a place where they could bring in their wine and eat my dad’s cooking,” says Levine’s daughter, Jessica. “In 2008, we opened a small restaurant with ten tables, and that is how it all started.”

Fast forward 13 years, and Levine has not only evolved but made a name for himself in the dynamic Houston food landscape. In addition to the original restaurant, which closed in May of this year, Levine has opened Jonathan’s the Rub Memorial Green and Jonathan’s the Rub Campbell Place. Although Jonathan is the namesake behind the restaurant, the restaurants are indeed a family affair. His daughter Jessica runs the Memorial Green location, and his son Sam is over the Campbell Place location. Levine is still a dominant figure at each restaurant, but relying on his son and daughter has allowed him more time to develop recipes and interact with customers. 

Born in New York, Levine brought East Coast flavors with him. Mainstays on his menus are Broiled Chilean Sea Bass, mussels, and many Italian-inspired dishes like his famous scratch-made Meatball Marinara. According to Jessica, moving to Texas changed her dad from a traditional “sauce guy” into a chef that loves working with spices. Guests can taste more of the Texas influences at his Campbell Place location, where the menu focuses on comfort food and casual Texas fare. 

In addition to delicious food, Levine’s restaurants focus on an outstanding beverage program. Independent sommelier and mixologist Linda Salinas put together the craft cocktail menu for Memorial Green. Her drinks have remained best sellers for more than three years, so Levine asked her to recreate the magic for the Campbell Place location. 

Levine strongly believes in giving back to the community that has supported him through the years. He is a cornerstone of the Memorial area giving to schools, churches, and the police and fire departments. “We are grateful that we landed in Memorial,” says Jessica. “I don’t think we could have done everything we have without the community’s support. My dad doesn’t talk about the charity work he does, but it is nice for the community to know that we enjoy supporting them just like they support us -  it is a wonderful thing.” jonathanstherub.com

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