Rural Missouri - February 2012 - (Page 16)

O U T O F T H E W A Y E A T S salad dressings and the croutons the restaurant makes and sells. If you ask Cole or Michael what the most popular dishes are, you get the same answer: burgers, batter-dipped tenderloins and pizza. “Our tenderloin is a hit for many reasons,” says Michael. “They’re not elephant ears like most places serve. Ours aren’t flattened out as much and they aren’t all breading, so it’s thicker.” Burger fans can delight themselves with 11 mouthwatering fresh ground-brisket options, such as the Black and Bleu, Whiskey River BBQ or the Cheeseburger in Paradise. Extreme burger fans dare attempt The DT Burger — a behemoth eight-patty, 2-pound burger that’s skewered with a knife to keep it upright. “I think the best-kept secret is our pizza,” says Cole, who adds they offer 14 pizzas, or you can create your own. “Mike created the dough we use, the ingredients are always fresh and we make our own tomato sauce. It’s delicious.” Grill fans should give one of “the forks” a try. A Northfork gets you barbecue beef with Swiss cheese and AJ’s homemade smokey slaw all served on light rye. Swap the barbecue for chicken, you’ve got a Southfork; exchange the chicken for smoked turkey, you’ve got an Eastfork; or change out the smoked turkey for smoked pulled pork and you’ve got yourself the Westfork. If you love pasta, try the baked pasta supremo, a penne pasta with marinara sauce, pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, mushrooms and onions. Other favorites include a chicken carbonara, with its Alfredo sauce, bacon, Reggiano cheese and manicotti in homemade marinara sauce. Under nearly every menu section, you’ll see an option to “kick” your meal choices. “We have our own version of a ranch hot sauce,” says Cole. “There’s nothing we can’t dip in it or a sandwich we can’t put it on,” says Cole. Dessert aficionados won’t be disappointed. Everything from the double-chocolate gooey butter cake to the fruit cobblers are made locally for the restaurant. Michael says he’s a little taken aback by how quickly AJ’s has seen success. “Some days, we serve more than 1,200 people and turn people away,” says Micheal. “I think the quality of our service and food keep people coming back.” So the next time you’re in Macon, stop by AJ’s for some delicious food in a casual atmosphere with a little of The Pear Tree’s flair. ention The Pear Tree in Bevier and most people have either heard of it or have been there for a wonderful meal. But five miles away in Macon, there’s a delicious new branch of the tree that’s making its mark for the Abbadessa family. Owners Al and Michael Abbadessa opened AJ’s only a year ago. Al’s son, Michael, is no stranger to the restaurant business, as he once owned Bogey’s in Kirksville and managed the former Pear Tree Sub Stop in Macon. “We did a great lunch business there, but Subway’s got a lock on sub sandwiches, so it was difficult to compete, even if we did use higher-quality meats,” says Michael. “So I thought I’d open a place where we could just process and ship all of our Pear Tree salad dressings and croutons.” A nondescript building across the street from The Pear Tree Sub Stop caught Michael’s eye. So he took operations manager Cole Mitchell and chef Brenda Nanneman to look at the space. “Believe me, Michael saw the potential in the building, but we weren’t so sure,” says Cole. “But the plan quickly evolved from a processing facility to adding a bar and some tables so we could sell food in a casual setting. Soon AJ’s, named after Michael’s father, Albert James Abbadessa, was a reality.” AJ’s is a laidback version of The Pear Tree, with classic American grill choices. “We just give our food that great Pear Tree flavor people know and love,” says Michael. The décor is as informal as the menu, with barn wood and garage doors that open to an outside patio. Local signage fills the walls, including a section of the old Macon Drive-In sign. The clientele is diverse, too. “We get everyone from construction workers and college kids to business people and Pear Tree fanciers,” says the Macon Electric Cooperative member. Michael says the one thing Cole and Brenda demanded when opening the new restaurant was that they offer The Pear Tree’s most famous dish. Batter-dipped, specially seasoned onion rings have always been a staple at Abbadessa eateries. Founding father Al Abbadessa has been quoted as saying it takes “99 steps to make one order,” although Cole thinks they’ve cut that down a few steps in the 25 years The Pear Tree has been in business. “We buy 2,000 pounds of onions a week,” says the 37-year-old Cole, who started working at The Pear Tree when he was 16. “On Friday and Saturday, we have two people who bread onion rings all day long. We guarantee they’re fresh because we barely keep up.” While salads are only a small portion of the menu, they’re a favorite with locals due to the four gourmet M by Heather Berry A delicious branch of The Pear Tree AJ’s photo by Jason Jenkins Operations manager Cole Mitchell shares two dishes for which AJ’s is becoming famous: the delicious batter-dipped onion rings and the eight-patty DT Burger. AJ’s Specialties: Batter-dipped tenderloins, burgers made daily from fresh ground brisket, kickin’ chicken nachos, pizzas made from scratch, batter-dipped onion rings, homemade double-chocolate gooey butter cake with homemade vanilla ice cream or Butterfinger blaster pie. • Macon Price: $5 to $15. Cash, checks and credit cards accepted. Details: Open Tuesday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Seats 240. Non-smoking; full bar. Open year-round except for major holidays. Private party space available. Reservations requested for 10 or more but not required. Directions: Located at 1407 N. Missouri St. in Macon. Contact: 660-385-1500 or WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP 16 http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2012

Rural Missouri - February 2012
Table of Contents
Better together
A plague of enmity
Out of the Way Eats
Rink redemption
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Radio revivalist
If the shoe fits
Around Missouri
Mr. Aviation

Rural Missouri - February 2012