Stella: Italian Restaurant in Ridgewood, NJ

River of Beer: fantastic gastro pub in Bloomingdale, NJ

River of Beer Bloomingdale-9

Just when I'm convinced there's little hope for New Jersey bars and restaurants, a gem like River of Beer falls into my lap from the internet.

As usual, our usual Sunday morning routine here at t:e headquarters involved the missus googling for restaurants that look interesting, good, and most of all, don't serve some sort of crappy "brunch" menu. F&cking pancakes and waffles and syrup and eggs, people. What, are you 12!??!?!? We weren't coming up with much, until:

missus: "Have you ever heard of a place called River of Beer?"
me: "No. Sounds awful. Where is it." (I'm a real pleasure in the morning)
missus: "Bloomingdale."
me: "That sounds far. And awful. I have no idea where that is and I know everything."

Some quick googling led me to the realization that Bloomingdale is pretty damned close to Bergen County. A review of the menu led us to the thought that this is a gastro-pub type of situation,  serving a bunch of craft beers, and that they put some thought into their food and menu. THAT, is exactly what I want to see. Off we went, to this strange land called "Bloomingdale."

River of Beer is a good-looking bar, set in an old two-story building. There's a bar on each floor, an outside seating area with picnic tables and a fire pit, and apparently just beyond that there's seating down by the river. I felt like I was on vacation, visiting a far-away place.

The owner saw me poking around, as I do, and like a smart business owner and gracious host, he introduced himself, told me a bit about the history of the place (the restaurant is only a few years old, but the building has been in the family for quite some time), gave me a tour of the place, and shared their philosophy on the food. Everything is made from scratch. The beef is sourced from a local farm (grass-fed, grain-finished).  All the stuff I like to hear.

With about 18 beers on tap, and more in bottles/cans, there's no shortage of options. They also put some thought into a small cocktail list, and run special cocktails throughout the year.

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Bloody Marys were 5 bucks a pop on this particular afternoon. We didn't indulge, but many others were. They looked pretty super, and were made with care and consideration.

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We started off with an order of 6 wings ($6). Rather than go with the usual Buffalo style, we figured we'd see what the kitchen can do with something non-traditional. We ordered the rosemary/pepper/lemon wings. These things were addictive (in no small part due to the salt and fat). I suspect they're using fresh lemon zest to coat these things, and I'm going to steal that idea.

A day earlier, we were at another bar, and spied a hot roast beef sandwich with provolone and au jus on the menu, which we ordered. Turned out they were out of that item that day. So when we saw a similar sandwich on the menu at River of Beer, we knew it had to be done.

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River of Beer Bloomingdale-11

Grilled french bread, loaded with sliced roast beef and provolone, served with some excellent fresh-cut fries and a bowl of hot jus. That certainly hit the spot.

The burger was also fantastic. Grass-fed/grain-finished beef on an appropriately sized bun. Juicy, and cooked to m/r as ordered. I couldn't stop eating the thing. The sliced pickles, also, were excellent.

River of Beer is a cozy, comfortable place with some solid food and excellent beer selection. The is staff friendly and engaged. Well worth a visit to the county known as "Passaic" from other far-away counties.

River of Beer : 133 Main Street : Bloomingdale, NJ : 973.750.1820

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