Ever heard of a restaurant running out of food? Well that’s exactly what happened to AJO Dimonius on their first weekend.
While technically it’s not a restaurant nor is it strictly a take away food place, it’s a food venue that was so popular it had to shut down five days after it opened. This is the stuff of urban legends, but the owners (Kiko Scalas, Samuel Scano, Davide Murgia and Francesco Mattana) confirmed its truth.
Confession time — I don’t really like pizza and I’ve been lukewarm about pasta for years. Now I’m changing my mind. The pizza at AJO’ is how it should be. The crust is thin, crispy, buttery, and a little smoky — and let’s be honest a good base is essential for any pizza. The boys use imported flour. We were steered to the Sarda because they’re from Sardinia — olive oil, fior di latte (freshly made cow’s milk cheese), Sardinian sausage, roasted capsicum and, wait for it, potato. Yes, potato on a pizza. What were they thinking? But it works — the roasted potatoes gather a smoky flavour and add a dimension I wouldn’t have thought possible. Yum.
The astute reader will have noted the Sardinian-ness of the pizza. For one simple reason, the four owners come from there. A wee while ago they decided Sardinian didn’t offer them the opportunities they needed; so they searched the internet and found a cheap house in West End. The blue house as they affectionately call it.
Armed with some cooking experience and a whole lot of energy they arrived in Australia. It was love at first sight — they loved West End and it loved them. (Might I posit it might be the heterosexual female population who responded most enthusiastically). After several kitchen experiences, it was time to put their considerable energies into a place of their own. Hence AJO.
The pizza menu has the usual suspects: seafood, four cheeses, Margherita, Napoletana; plenty of vegetarian options and a couple of ‘Aussie’ favourites. Though I cannot for the life of me understand pineapple or barbecue chicken on pizza. But wait, there’s more. Pasta.
We had the Campidanese — gnocchi pasta with tomato sauce (homemade, of course), Sardinian sausage and pecorino; Sardinia is renowned for its pecorino. The pasta is perfect, the tomato sauce shines, the sausage adds a subtle snap of aniseed, and the cheese blends but doesn’t dominate. It’s a party in my mouth and my partner sneakily finishes it while I chat with the boys. Hmmm. Of the other options, we promise to go back and try the funghi, and the four cheeses, and the salmon, oh, and the ragu, and possibly the seafood. Damn, that’s a lot of carbs in my future. Seriously though — the pasta packs such a flavour punch, I won’t need to eat much. Right?
AJO’ (come on/let’s go) Dimonius (demons) means good food. Look for the tree with lights (149 Boundary). Opening hours are roughly 11am til late.
Words by Toni Johnson-Woods | Images by Georgina Ashford