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Restaurant Review: Jimmyluka’s

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Jimmyluka’sPizza and sandwiches are on the menu at Jimmyluka's on the South Side - All photos by Susan Post
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There are a lot of ways to describe Jimmyluka’s (one word, not two) on Parsons. You could start with the visual aesthetics, which are good. Its weathered brick walls sport giant works of art in vibrant, electric hues. Each one, a colorful marvel depicting perhaps a guitar or person with a life of its own. 

You could talk about the vibe. For regulars, it probably feels like home, as conversation between bartender and guests binds folks together. For outsiders, it’s easy to enter the fold and feel welcome in the club. And if you’d rather sit back and quietly observe, well, there’s space for that, too. Jimmyluka’s set up shop on Parsons Avenue in late 2018, as a deli and a bar. It’s surviving the pandemic on the strength of its solid sandwiches. And now, it’s introduced pizza to the mix. (And word is chicken wings are next.)

Which segues us to the olfactory world: Pizza is in the air. A fine way to test the house wares is with a classic pepperoni pie. It’s the traditional showcase for a strong philosophical foundation: crust, and cheese, and overall flavor balance. Here’s what that means at JimmyLuka’s: The house 12” Pepperoni Pizza ($15) starts with a thin crust. It’s not fragile, crackery-thin. Rather, it’s slim, crisped on the outside, but with enough substance to offer a little chewiness as well. The base is nearly edge-to-edge covered in sauce (Mediterranean style, with a fragrant, savory accent) and melted smoked provolone. Atop the cheese sits cupped slices of pepperoni, with crunchy, toasted edges. A hint of oregano wafts from the square-cut-slices.

There are other pizza toppings, sausage, mushrooms; you can load it up. But a simple pepperoni combination lets the respective elements shine. And shine, they do. It’s a quality, craftsman (craftsperson) pie. 

Pepperoni Pizza

Beyond the pizza, there’s a menu of stalwart sandwiches. The selection is streamlined; each option strikes a balance between traditional and inspired, with just enough creativity and finesse to feel like something that can’t be done at home. 

While the menu is helpful, other guests are helpful too, and it’s entirely likely you’ll score a good-natured suggestion from a co-diner. That’s how  the Mia Pita ($8), a combo of smoked cheddar, garlic butter and grilled pita, ended up on the agenda. In short, it’s all the things that are lovable about grilled cheese, with the volume turned to 11. 

Mia Pita with Poblano Cheese Soup for dipping

Meanwhile, the house namesake, Jimmyluka’s Special ($13), is served on sturdy ciabatta that bears distinctive grill marks. Inside there are soft folds of briny deli turkey and smoked cheddar. Both contribute savory accents that are balanced with honey mustard so you get a sweet-and-savory combo. Lettuce and tomato round it out. 

Jimmyluka’s Special

Or just embrace the deli experience, and get all the cured meats. That’s an option in the Capicola Mix ($13), which layers capicola, salami and ham together with monterey jack. It’s a sandwich with more dedication to the vegetable scene as well: spinach, tomato and avocado add heft, with the honey mustard returning for a little sweetness. Basil pesto is in the mix too. Wouldn’t have expected all that to work together, but at Jimmyluka’s, it does just fine.

Capicola Mix

The fully stocked bar is an easy place to sit and hang out (unless you want to look at the art), and the stop’s event calendar is filled with art shows, karaoke and live music. While Jimmyluka’s might not have announced any grandiose plans as it opened, it’s doing all the things that build a community on Parsons: Warm hosts, comforting foods, bar, and a casual entertainment scene. You’ll find it at 701 Parsons Ave. It’s open daily starting at 11:30 a.m. and closed on Sundays.

For more information, follow Jimmyluka’s Bar Deli on Facebook.

All photos by Susan Post

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