J&Jís might be located in Somerville, but many of its patrons would swear theyíve been transported to more Mediterranean climes. That might have something to do with J&Jís homey dining room decorated with an abundance of hanging plastic ivy (complete with grapes) and large wooden tables surrounded by high-backed chairs. The eating area has visitors half-expecting an Italian matriarch to pop through a side door at any moment, asking, " Want some chicken, honey? "
Or the customersí disorientation may have to do with the menu, which is traditional enough for an Italian pizzeria, but also provides some pleasant surprises. J&Jís offers traditional pizza by the slice (95 cents and up) and as small or large pies ($4.50/$7.50). The real treasure, though, is its gourmet-pizza menu of nine extraordinary concoctions that make excellent use of average and not-so-average toppings. Take, for example, the Pompeii ($8/$12): fresh tomatoes are scattered atop cheddar and mozzarella, while a generous helping of garlic is balanced by a sprinkling of rich goat cheese. Or try the Connecticut ($7.50/$12), piled so high with chicken, red onions, red peppers, and spinach that it canít possibly be eaten gracefully without a knife and fork. If the shop has asparagus in stock (it often doesnít ó itís kind of a crapshoot), you can try a New Jersey ($7.50/$12), which features the sinewy vegetable with ham, along with cheddar and parmesan cheeses.
As for the rest of the rather large menu, the Fresh Chicken Parmesan is a standout among the hot subs, and a small ($3.75) is big enough to satisfy a hearty appetite. J&Jís saves the panache for the íza, but weíd expect nothing less from a place where the aesthetic is so important.
J&Jís, located at 588 Somerville Avenue, in Somerville, is open Sunday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to midnight. Call (617) 625-9700.