There is something in American cuisine that used to be called a bar and grill. Or maybe a bar & grille? The ‘e’ maybe being related to the Ye Olde Shoppe type thing. Well, whatever you call it, the Verona Inn is pretty much that. They serve beer and things you put on a grill. Or in a fryer. Which maybe makes it an inn? But you can’t sleep there. In fact, the time before this one when we went there, it was so fucking loud, the dead couldn’t have slept. Ear-splitting and audibly unacceptable.
Lucky for us, our latest trip at around six on a Saturday evening was way less damaging to our hearing. In fact, it was almost weirdly empty. Sure, there were some rather inebriated dudes at the bar watching some useless game and cheering for what looked like women’s lawn bowling, maybe? It was mid-summer, so I don’t think there was a whole lot going on. Ok, maybe it was the Mets? Anyway, we had a nice table all to ourselves. And seemingly not a lot of competition for our server. Though, that second part turned out to be not so correct. But, hey, who needs service when you have… Well, yeah, everyone needs service. Even a skosh.
Putting that aside for the moment, Verona Inn has an incredibly stereotypical bar food menu. Fried stuff up top. Then some salads for your rabbit friends. The burger section, followed by its cousin, the sandwich. And then some “specialties” before you get to the sides. Something for everyone. And a green salad for your dumb vegan friend. Scratch that, there is no green salad. Jesus, there is literally not a single vegan main item on the menu. I guess it’s an order of plain tater tots and a side of broccoli rabe for them. The ladies went straight meatatarian with a couple burgers. I did fish and chips because when in a bar… We started with a pretzel, which has become our go-to for some reason. Seems we’re taste testing them across the state. They also have this oddball little menu of tater tots with different stuff on them. But because of Hipster Jr. Jr., we had to get plain ones. Which made me almost want to return her to the hospital. But I relented.
The good things is, the food was actually pretty decent. The burgers I understood to be tasty and actually cooked properly (medium-rare, thank you). My fish and chips were tender, not over or under fried and were as flakey as they’re supposed to be. The fries were delicious. Which is my mark of a good meal, frankly. I was reasonably successful with my beer choices, of which there were many. Probably 25 or so microbrews on tap, along with another ten or so of your typical Coors Light garbage. Which again reminds me that this random-ass bar in Verona, NJ has way more and way better beers on tap than pretty much any European bar we hit up on our many travels. It’s bullshit when people get all excited for you to go to like London or Amsterdam and tell you you’re gonna be drinkin’ like a king. Sure, if you like Amstel and Carlsberg. Point is, I’m pretty sure the US is the most beer obsessed country in the world and the place where you’re going to actually drink like a king. Or like a… president? The issue at Verona Inn comes back to the service. I had my first beer and picked out a second, but the server vanished on us. By the time I was able to track her down, it was so late into the meal that I just switched over to a Diet Coke because I had to drive home and had just lost my lust for suds. Pitty.
I’ll chalk the dodgy service up to the post-COVID struggles most establishments have had employing help and hope it’s not just their thing. But the joint does seem relatively family-friendly without being a Friendly’s. And the grub is decent, the beer list long and apparently you can even peep a sporting event on the tele while you’re imbibing. Sounds pretty good to me.
624 Bloomfield Ave. – Verona