MALTA — Good things about Jimmy’s Pizza & Pasta had reached my ears, and Mom and I set out to see whether they were true.
They were not — Jimmy’s was way better than I’d heard. Even better, it’s locally owned.
It’s bright, with windows all across the front that make the dining area cheerful. Also, you can see that it is very clean. The walls are white with red wainscoting, and the white linoleum is dotted with red squares here and there, which seems appropriate for an Italian restaurant.
I liked the framed, local-themed photos that line the walls. There are molded red booths with formica tabletops, and you get your own napkin dispenser on each table so you can have as many napkins as you like, whenever you like.
It’s a step up from the usual pizza joint, with scalloped paper placemats and unbreakable plastic plates instead of paper. Also, you get metal forks and knives, and there’s a nice server to take your order and bring your food.
We started with an order of chicken wings. Jimmy’s immediately got points for offering an entire dozen for $8.99 — and they’re not skimpy wings, either.
The wings arrived in short order, wafting a vinegar-tinged vapor that made our mouths water. They were plump and tossed in a thick orange sauce that formed a small puddle on the plate, in case we needed more. And, since they were hot out of the fryer, the skin was still crisp.
We grabbed plates and dove in. “Crisp,” said Mom. “Mmm,” was my reply. “Perfect hot sauce; it’s not too hot but has a bite,” said Mom. Agreed. I prefer them prepared with Frank’s RedHot sauce, but this sauce had exactly the right amount of heat for medium.
“How’s the blue cheese?” I asked as Mom dunked a celery stalk into the plastic cup. “Delicious,” she said, happily.
We each had a few and took home the rest. Meantime, our next course had arrived. The server took away the wings to pack them up.
One look at Mom’s plate was enough to turn us into instant fans of Jimmy’s seasoned pizza roll-ups ($4.50). This one was a thing of beauty, the fresh dough stretched in places and browned in others, with dried seasoning sprinkled on top before baking. And that was just the outside. The roll-up was drawing further attention to itself by leaking a puddle of mozzarella cheese onto the plate, and it was browned on the bottom from the hot pizza oven. I suppressed an impulse to grab it with my fork.
Inside, long thin slices of sweet, fennel-flecked Italian sausage, sautéed onions and green peppers were wherever the mozzarella wasn’t. “It’s like a calzone, but lighter,” said Mom. We like calzones, but they’re too big, with way too much dough. These roll-ups are perfect.
The spices on top are toasted from the cooking, adding further flavor. The crust was light but sturdy, and held together while Mom ate half.
Additionally, it was crisp, adding another dimension of pleasure to the palate. “Wow,” she said. That’s a lot of wow for $4.50.
The slice ($2.40 with one topping) I ordered was darn good, too, and they were generous with the sausage. It was almost completely covered with thin sausage slices that had crisped up a little at the edges and gave up some of their flavor to the pizza by way of oil — not too much, and in a good way.
The bottom was browned and crackling, although at the pointy end it was no match for the sauce and melted cheese — I needed a fork and knife.
The melted cheese had completely incorporated itself with the sauce, creating a semisolid of pure deliciousness. I did not want this slice to end.
The rim of the crust was light, and I dunked it into Mom’s extra sauce.
Sauce, by the way, that is chunky and fresh-tasting, with bits of onion, tomato and a little green pepper. It was very good, a bit tangy and I had no trouble finishing it all up.
“Do you think that slice needs more sauce?” asked Mom, finding the one thing that could be improved.
Maybe a little, around the edge. But as a slice it’s a 9.9 out of 10, and I’ll be back at Jimmy’s soon for more.
Jimmy’s has calzones and desserts that could be better advertised; we might have sprung for a slice of cheesecake had we known it was available. The menu mentions only cannoli; on the way out I spotted a small sign on the counter advertising other desserts.
The tab for our meal, with two enormous diet sodas, came to $20.53 with tax.
Mom took home half the beautiful pizza roll-up, and I had a half dozen wings for the next day’s lunch.
We were treated well, and enjoyed very tasty food in a pleasant atmosphere. Two hot-sauce-covered thumbs up.
Jimmy’s Pizza & Pasta
WHERE: 31 Kendall Way (Shops of Malta), Malta,
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
HOW MUCH: $20.53 for food with two drinks
MORE INFO: Large parking lot. ADA compliant. Local delivery available. 518-899-2939. JimmysPizza-Malta.com