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One of the four founding owners of Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza in Irvington, Mick McGrath knows that a wait list and a packed room are signs that business is good. He also knows that when the wait becomes a nightly occurrence that sends customers off in search of quicker eats, it’s time to make some adjustments. “We had gotten to the point where we were bursting at the seams,” says the industry veteran, who opened the neighborhood pizza joint—with his wife, Nancy Duncan, and their former Irvington neighbors, Bob and Laura Stark—in 2007. (An Old Town Greenwood location followed in 2010.) So he expanded the bustling pizzeria into the available slot next door, a former consignment store, adding a little more than a thousand square feet, about 60 seats, a bigger bar with twice the taps, and a party room.
Along with the renovation came a couple of menu additions, like the Jockamo Special, a pizza that gets a drizzle of balsamic reduction after it comes out of the oven, and goat cheese–stuffed peppadew peppers in chili oil. The only thing McGrath did not want to change was his flagship restaurant’s location. “The neighborhood has been very supportive. They treat it like it’s their own place,” McGrath says. “I wish I could find another Irvington to open one more store.”
Mick McGrath's Favorate Things
1) Anchovies on pizza: “The saltiness goes well with a good local beer.”
2) Blend cigar bar: “It’s my favorite bar in the city.” (Cigar of choice: The Montecristo Toro.)
3) Chef Layton Roberts at Mesh on Mass (formerly at Meridian): “He’s my nephew.”
4) The Legend: “When my wife and I go out to dinner, we almost always sit at the bar.”
This article appeared in the March 2014 issue.
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