Edibles

Good food, good value at PJ's Café

By Tony Omer - April 20, 2006

Paul and Joanne Sardini in front of their large blackboard menu. Photos by Ralph Stewart.

Sandwiched between Al's Liquor Store and Larry's Tackle Shop on upper Main Street in Edgartown is a tiny slip of a shop now called PJ's Café. PJ's is open for breakfast and lunch every day but Sunday, 7 am to 3 pm. They will stay open until 6 pm during the summer. The unassuming façade masks an unassuming interior. As you enter from front and center the order counter spans the rear wall and two Formica topped tables line each sidewall. A few pictures mostly of Island harbor scenes hang on the walls. It is obvious that no interior decorator has been allowed to spoil the laidback ambience of PJ's. It's a friendly place. First names are used between the staff and customers. There are obviously a fair number of regulars here. The most impressive part of the décor is the two large walls turned into black boards above the counter. There, written in chalk, is their entire menu.

"Everything is made from scratch, dressings, salsa, specials, no frozen foods," according to co-owner Joanne Sardini, in the soft Scottish brogue of her homeland. "I have to have French toast every day so of course we have French toast. People love our breakfasts, and our lunches. Our burgers are great. Especially the Worksburger and the Steak Bomb is a favorite of many."

I had the chimichunga, which was delicious, with a nice mix of refried beans and beef, topped with a generous portion of homemade salsa over lettuce and tomato. It was too much for me to eat in one sitting. I had to take some home.

There are sandwiches and wraps. Daily specials, like Texas chicken with homemade barbeque sauce on Tuesdays. There are soups and chowder, salads and vegetarian offerings and pies by Grace Conklin of Just Pies.

"We want to provide good food at a good value for workers and contractors," said Ms. Sardini. "The highest priced item on the menu is $9.50," she said with pride, pointing out that the fresh ground coffee is only 75 cents and a dollar for the large.

New name or old, PJ's continues to attract regulars.

At one time PJ's was called the First Light, then Tom's, and then Dick's and of course then, Harry's Deli when it was purchased last April by Paul and Joanne Sardini. "We bought Harry's from our good friends Seamus and Julie Scanlon. From one Boston lad and Scottish gal to another Boston lad and Scottish gal," said Ms. Sardini. Paul and Joanne are, of course, the P and J of PJ's, but the name change did not come as easily as one might imagine. A contest for the new name was held, with a not unsubstantial prize of a free lunch a week for a year to the winner. Over 300 names were dropped into a suggestion box at the café. The Full Belly Deli was one name Joanne liked, another was The New Deli. Thirteen people thought PJ's should be the name and they are now splitting the prize which worked out to 5 lunches each. Joanne said she thinks it's appropriate that the name is based on the owners' names, just like the neighbors' shops.

Joanne and Paul are food service professionals. Joanne studied at the Scottish Hotel School of the University of Strathclyde in Scotland before coming to the Island to work for the Harbor View Hotel seven years ago. When she isn't working at PJ's she works as Director of Sales at the Colonial Inn. Paul studied Culinary Arts at Newbury College in Brookline. He had worked as a chef at the Harbor View for almost eight years, and to keep his culinary arts sharp he and Joanne now run a thriving catering business as well, PJ's Catering.