110 E. Walnut Street - Oglesby, Illinois 61348  ·  Phone: 815-883-3389

MJ’s: Casual, fine dining.

December 31, 2013 by City Clerk  
Filed under From the Mayor's Desk

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When Jackie Mente describes the kind of fare she and her husband Mike offer at MJ’s Pub and Grill, her description may at first seem strange.

7u0y1796“Casual fine,” after all, is an odd juxtaposition of words.

How can fine dining be casual?

But a visit to the Mente’s downtown Oglesby restaurant may lead you to embrace the happy paradox of terms.

True to its name, MJ’s is a pub. There are the traditional flat screen TVs and sports paraphernalia, the neon signs and beer on tap. High bar stools line the counter; bottles of alcohol line the wall. There’s nothing stuffy about its clean, uncrowded interior, and you’ll find not a wisp of smoke. Nonetheless, it’s a pub.

mjs info box

But perhaps where the name MJ’s Pub and Grill sells itself short is the kitchen.

MJ’s is so much more than a grill.

Sure, there are the traditional pub and Illinois Valley offerings–burgers, tenderloins and fried chicken. But these are hand-pattied burgers on bakery bread, house-pounded tender loins and made-to-order chicken with homemade breading, all served along side hand-cut french fries.

That’s really where Jackie and Mike left the “grill” behind, however.

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MJ’s menu boasts such finer foods as filet mignon, broiled cod, smelt and even Minnesota turtle, served seasonally on Friday nights. The kitchen serves up its own pasta made with homemade sauces, from simple spaghetti to baked tortellini to chicken parmesan.

And while the food is good, Jackie says attention to detail is what really puts MJ’s above the chain restaurants.

“Presentation sets us apart,” she says. “We’re very, very picky about how our food looks because you eat with the eyes first. Those guys in the back work very, very hard to make sure that food is cooked and served on the plate the way it’s supposed to be. We take a lot of care.

“It’s important to us to see the smile on the persons face when they’re eating it and to hear what they have to say about it when they’re done.”

The front of the house serves up cocktails to compliment the food, and the services brings it all together.

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“We make everything from martinis to MJ’s specialty drinks,” Jackie says. “Our bartenders do a phenomenal job along with our servers.”

The Mentes have been serving up fine and fine-looking food at MJ’s since 2010. All the while, the restaurant has been gathering community. Jackie credits their friendly base of local customers with making MJ’s a welcome spot for travelers.

“If a stranger walks through that door,” she says, “they won’t feel like a stranger long.”

Oglesby folk and visitors alike can find something to enjoy at MJ’s.

The Mentes focus on putting homemade meals on the table during the week and some kind of great pasta special on Saturdays. Meanwhile, they often schedule local bands for live entertainment and offer a large outdoor patio with seating for up to 50 people. Bookings for special events are available, as well as in-home catering.

(Photos by James Kransic, Vermillion River Photography.)