When it comes to life’s luxuries, for me, meal delivery is second only to room service. It’s like you’re out, when you’re in. You can dine upon things that you did not have the time, the talent, the ingredients nor the inclination to prepare – all while remaining in your pajamas.
So I was delighted with the opening of AJ’s, and hats off to them for including their phone number on their awning.
I rang immediately, and made the acquaintance of Ciji Blackwell, the proprietor, Dwayne Alcorn’s girlfriend. She, and his whole wheat pizza dough, are two of his best assets.
Blackwell takes customer service to a concierge level, and of said crust, foodie Lois Plaisted said, “That wheat crust, as my husband says, ‘If I was a dog, I’d roll in it ... [it is] to die for.’ ”
Suffice it to say, AJ’s is a new Tall family and friends’ fave. We have ordered at home, at work and sent lunch to colleagues.
From the appetizer menu, we have sampled their Southwest Chicken Spring Rolls, the Garlic Breadsticks and the wings.
The menu’s description of the rolls is sparse, and they are not what one might expect. Instead of an egg roll wrapper, the filling is encased in pizza dough. It is tasty and not eclipsed by being deep fried. The chicken, black beans, cheese, red and jalapeño peppers and spinach are snugged in a pig-in-a-blanketesque cocoon and baked. Expect to feel the heat, especially if you dip into the jalapeno ranch dressing.
As for the breadsticks, unfortunately, I found them irresistible.
I was also impressed with their wings. They were of generous size and hit that sweet spot of being neither too greasy nor too dry. Although purists may take exception with the fact that they are baked, I found them to be moist and tasty. The housemade ranch and blue cheese dressings are the perfect complements.
Of the salads, I will once again whinge about black olives instead of kalamatas on a Greek salad. I would also suggest the omission of the dried oregano seasoning, especially if you like your dressing on the side, as it has a bitterness that jars the palate unless it mixes with the dressing. Otherwise the portions are generous, and the artichoke hearts an unexpected bonus.
Therese Ciraulo opined that the spinach salad with roasted chicken was delicious with plenty of chicken, bacon and red onions for every bite of spinach.
My husband remarked upon the quality of the roll when we split a turkey and Swiss sub. The bread, made in-house, was fresh and remarkably tasty, and the accompanying pickle was crisp. We were equally pleased by the roast beef.
As for their hand-tossed, California style pizza, it is exceptional. I especially appreciate that is less greasy than others. I have yet to feel the urge to blot a single slice with a napkin.
True to it West Coast roots, you can adorn your hand-tossed Italian white or whole wheat pie with such non-traditional toppings as sliced apples, Pesto chicken, sun dried tomatoes, turkey, Ranch sauce, salsa, Swiss cheese, low-fat mozzarella or blue cheese crumbles. They even offer four pepper choices: banana, mild cherry, sweet garlic and hot chili.
Their specialty pies include Sweet & Spicy – honey mustard, roasted chicken, red onion, Gouda, Monterey Jack and jalapenos and Buffalo Chicken- blue cheese dressing, mozzarella, Buffalo chicken, celery, red onion, Monterey Jack and cheddar crust. I think even Wolfgang Puck would be impressed.
Clark Vereen certainly was by their Spinach Delight.
“[It was] very tasty with plenty of ingredients providing a full flavor effect. [A] great choice for someone who wants pizza without the guilt,” he wrote in an email.
If pasta better suits your proclivities, you’re in luck. AJ’s offers the standards including chicken carbonara and al fredo. I have only tried the lasagna, and it was disappointing. It had the lack of flavor and structural integrity that I associate with a frozen product. I shared this with Blackwell, and she said that Alcorn had concerns himself with the quality. They have only been in business a few weeks, so I’ll give it a little while and try it again.
The lasagna let down aside; I am clearly agog over AJ’s. So much so, that I recruited more than 10 tasters to test my findings, every one of which reached the same conclusion – AJ’s rocks.