The Unvegan

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Deep Dishing at CJ’s Brewing Company

The unthinkable.

Many times I have lamented the lack of a microbrewery in LA. Sure, I’ve heard there’s one in Eagle Rock, but in 3+ years of living in LA I haven’t set foot in Eagle Rock and probably couldn’t point it out on a map. Plus, that’s one (allegedly good) brewery for a city with a metropolitan area of just under 18 million. Blech. But Michigan is another story, with plentiful great microbreweries. One of these is CJ’s Brewing Company in Commerce. And while I’ve had some delicious beers there, as with most microbreweries, the food is just as good.

And it’s not just about burgers and wings. No, CJ’s is known throughout the metro Detroit area to have the greatest jambalaya my step-mom has ever eaten and the best BBQ chicken pizza my dad has ever had. Not in the mood for jambalaya, I decided to give the BBQ chicken pizza the old college try. This pizza is topped with their hickory BBQ sauce, shredded chicken, bacon and red onions. Plus, it’s offered as both deep dish or round. I ordered a personal-sized deep dish, without the onions for a whopping $6.99 (insert sarcasm here).

After a short wait, the supposedly amazing pizza was brought to me. I was delighted to find that CJ’s deep dish was Detroit-style like you would find at Buddy’s, which means square, thick crust and big, rectangular slices. With four slices, this was a personal pizza not likely to leave me hungry. I dug in and found that yes, CJ’s had achieved BBQ chicken pizza perfection. The crust may be thick and deep, but it’s hardly noticeable because a thick crust is almost necessary to balance out the massive kick of flavor that this pizza delivers. The BBQ sauce was ideal for pizza, being both sweet and smoky. A desire for regular tomato sauce never crossed my mind after digging into the hickey BBQ sauce. The shredded chicken was tender and surprisingly not too prevalent for a pizza with chicken in its name. It actually took a back seat to the bacon, which was at the perfect crispness for pizza and added an additional smoky, salty flavor. This pizza really could have been called BBQ bacon with chicken and the name would have been more accurate.

Accuracy aside, this was one BBQ chicken pizza not to be messed with. And even more amazing is finding something like this at a microbrewery. After three of my four slices, I was tapped out and had to take the final slice to go. California Pizza Kitchen may have put BBQ chicken pizza on the map, but CJ’s has perfected it.