This week I visited Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, 5646 E. Washington St., a central feature in the neighborhood of Irvington.
It has earned a reputation as one of the premier pizza places on the east side, and in the entire city, since part owner and head chef Mick McGrath opened it in October of 2007.
McGrath draws on about 20 years of culinary experience to ensure that his restaurant has food of the highest quality. All crust, pizza sauces and salad dressings are made fresh in-house, and all cheese is ground daily. Jockamo also gets other local businesses in on the act. Papa Roux, a nearby Cajun food eatery, provides the restaurant with the etouffee sauce found on its Creole pizza, and Tienda Morelos, Irvington’s Mexican market, supplies chorizo sausage.
The strategy of using nearby culinary resources gets to the essence of the restaurant’s philosophy. “We’re a locally owned business,” says McGrath. “We are very supportive of our neighborhood, and it is very supportive of us.”
The “we are all in this together” mentality is appealing to customers. It’s refreshing to see a business so invested in its surroundings, especially in these economic times of outsourcing and downsizing. Beyond being socially responsible, this strategy also has led to Jockamo having darn good food. I used to live in the area, and all of my neighbors swore by the place.
I tried the house salad with creamy Gorgonzola dressing. It was wonderful. It is easy to tell that the dressing is homemade and clearly of high quality. Even if you do not want pizza, I would recommend going to Jockamo just for the salad. As for the pizza, I just had good, old-fashioned pepperoni and sausage. Some may call my choice boring, but, in my opinion, pepperoni and sausage is the quintessential pizza, sort of a universal measuring stick by which all pizza joints can be judged. Jockamo’s version stands up to its reputation, with the homemade sauce, crust and fresh ingredients adding up to a better than average pizza.
For those that want to get more adventurous with their meal, Jockamo has plenty more to offer. The Slaughterhouse Five, a sort of meat-lovers pizza named for Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut’s best-selling book, is the most sold item on the menu. Other signature pizzas like the Cheese Louise, the Lazy Boy and the Shipwreck have also become customer favorites.
As mentioned earlier, Jockamo is a great destination for salad lovers, with options ranging from the health nut to the seafood, and sandwiches like the California roll and the health-wich make Jockamo a place that you can go to enjoy a completely different style each time, even if you go over and over again.
For more information, call (317) 356-6612 or visit jockamopizza.com.