Where do you go when you have a craving for quesadillas? Why, the J.J. Bitting Brewing Company, of course! All kidding aside, this was the first time I had eaten here in over two years. When I worked in Perth Amboy once upon a time ago, coworkers and I were here at least once a month. It was a great place to hang out: awesome homemade beer in a cool building with more than competent food. When I had friends coming in from afar, I would usually take them to Bitting’s. Then, right around my last couple times going, I noticed a dip in quality. As detailed in this positive but lukewarm review of restaurants I had eaten at before I started this blog, the last straw was a nasty Chicken Piccatta that came served floating in grease. The service had also suffered—pushing drinks and rushing you into oblivion. Putting fond memories aside, I bid farewell to J.J Bitting’s. Until last month.
I had just finished up day one of moving. I was exhausted. I wanted to go to dinner with my mom and for some reason, this place came to mind. After such a long time, I have no idea why. Maybe it was the familiarity and a touch of nostalgia in these uncertain and hectic times. We arrived after a 20 minute drive. I am not exaggerating when I say the dining experience which followed was the best I ever had at this location, and was damn near perfect. Everything from the food and drinks to the service.
They start you off with complimentary chips and salsa. I browsed through the beer menu and went with my usual, the Victoria Golden Ale. Light, crisp, and refreshing, it aids the consumption of one too many tortilla chips. I was delighted to see they still carry Tiger Sauce on their tables. This is an extremely mild and slightly sweet hot sauce that I was first exposed to at Bitting’s when I was a child. It has been a favorite ever since.
For an appetizer, we got the stuffed mushrooms, which I never had there before. They were plump, juicy, and filled with a blend of sausage and spices, and topped with melted mozzarella cheese. My meal was, of course, the Acapulco Gold quesadillas. I was starving, and these certainly do the trick. The picture above serves no justice—it is a massive portion, and you actually get two quesadillas. There were leftovers for lunch the next day. I got the veggie ones, which included broccoli, zucchini, carrots, onions, red peppers, and cheese. These were just as good as you could get in any Mexican restaurant. The vegetables were cooked but not mushy and there was ample cheese melted throughout.
As much as I enjoyed them, the star of the show was my mom’s Seafood Fra Diavolo. Another massive portion of pasta in a seemingly fresh-made sauce with shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, and calamari. Two pieces of bread on the side were there to mop up a garlic-loaded sauce. It was delicious—beyond delicious. I sampled some of her meal in a eye-raised disbelief that a brewery whipped up one of the best tasting pasta dishes I’ve ever had in my life. Yes, me with the last name “Caggiano” has declared this meal to be one of the best.
The night was capped off with a slice of the Mississippi Mud Pie because why not at that point? On top of all of this wonderful food was impeccable service. Our waitress was pleasant, did not rush or push drinks. And speaking of drinks, I also tried the Raging Pumpkin Ale. Put that up there with one of the best pumpkin beers I’ve had—they usually end up being far too bitter for my liking, but this had just enough. My mom had a glass of wine which was priced at $4.50, while my pints were $5 each. Can’t beat those prices. I am going to upgrade my score of J.J. Bitting’s Brewery to a 4 out of 5 stars. This went from a place I did not think I was going to return to, to one of the better dining experiences I’ve had in recent memory. It was a relaxing way to cap off a stressful day.
The J.J. Bitting Brewing Company is located at 33 Main Street in Woodbridge, New Jersey.