Only hawk eyes may have noticed the recent change on Kingsway of Mega Grill to Mega iLL, but for pizza and pot enthusiasts the change has made all the difference. Mega iLL is a pizza joint with head chef Jesse Sindayen at the helm. “I’m that guy who likes to trick people into eating their veggies,” admits Sindayen over a slice of vegetarian Rambo pizza. With locally grown fresh ingredients, house-made pizza sauce, a delicious garlic-oil on a sea-salt sprinkled pretzel crust, and a spiked layer of pot baked in for those toting a medical MJ card, the pizzeria is the new front of marijuana activism and acceptance in the city. “Our customers range from business men in suits coming to relax after work, to reggae artists and a lot of the local community from this area of Kingsway,” says Sindayen, which explains the family-style long tables to bring the community together. Pizza and marijuana have always gone hand in hand in Vancouver, Sindayen even goes so far as to say “it’s part of our culture.”
BeatRoute: How long have you worked here?
Jesse Sindayen: About three months, since it opened. I pretty much decided the menu. I opened this restaurant with two other partners who are in the dispensary industry. We met and had the same vision, to put these two things together and Mega iLL was born.
JS: We are a restaurant first. The closest thing to this is maybe Amsterdam Cafe but they just serve coffee and a few desserts.
BR: And then additional hemp when people with a card bring in their weed?
JS: Yes. First we extract it, we use olive oil and we decarboxolate it – take all of the carbon dioxide out of it – which makes it more reactive. Then we apply it on our pizzas in a layer with sauce, and add the infusion before we add the cheese and toppings. The problem with just sprinkling it on top is you can taste it and people don’t really enjoy the taste.
JS: No. We want to encourage people to sit down. We have table service, unlike any other vapo-lounge. Here, you get seated, you get a menu, we offer the smoking supplies like an ashtray, rollies, a grinder, and all that in a package like salt and pepper brought to the table. The biggest thing is I want to normalize this. I see people out here enjoying themselves and I want to encourage that.
BR: What’s your most popular pizza?
JS: Maybe the Rambo or the Samoan… the Samoan is pulled pork, pineapple and cilantro. It’s our take on Hawaiian. I went to Hawaii to escape not too long ago, and that’s really where I found my passion for pizza. It was my validation that this was what I wanted to do in life. My first day there I wanted to get a Hawaiian pizza, obviously, so I asked around and wanted that Black Forest ham with pineapple and they were like ‘we don’t really do that.’ But they do slow cook a lot of wild boar and I was fortunate enough to be a part of a ceremony where they captured a pig and roasted it, set up the banquet hall and all that. When I came back I made my own version of a real Hawaiian pizza with pulled pork.
JS: Yes, actually we have some customers who are urban culturalists so we have seeds that we planted out and waiting for them to come back. Black kale, arugula, garlic, stuff like that.
BR: What kind of music do you play or host here?
JS: I listen to soul, hip hop, jazz… a range. We have a Bluetooth speaker so everyone is the DJ. I like that vibe. It’s like inviting people into my house.
BR: So it looks like you’re a part of the community now!
JS: This area is revitalizing and I wanted to be a part of that. There’s been so much networking by the end of the day everyone is friends.
BR: Is there activism for legalizing marijuana that goes on here?
JS: This is the spot! We do a lot of education about medicating and other uses. A lot of people are curious. They want to know about what they intake so this is a good place to learn, a lot of people here work in the dispensary fields and are very knowledgeable. We have rigs and can teach people how to ingest it properly, sterilely, and with technique. Then you know what you’re putting in your body.
Visit www.megaill.com to see the menu or pop into Mega iLL at 646 Kingsway. Business hours 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
By Jessica Brodeur
Photos by Sarah Whitlam