UNO CHICAGO GRILL & BREWERY

NEW JERSEY – NORTH

On the way home from upper Delaware brewpub tour February ‘06, originally visited Metuchen’s unique UNO CHICAGO GRILL & BREWERY (formerly Pizzeria Uno), the only stateside restaurant chain brewpub. Multiple TV’s at every conceivable corner surround right side dining, left side bar (with copper kettles near glass back), and central drinking area of freestanding pub on busy Route 1.

Quaffed prickly dry-hopped lemon-bruised grapefruit-soured wheat-chaffed maize-parched Bootlegger Blonde Ale, fruity caramel-roasted Station House Red Ale, bohemian malt-lagered citrus-hopped black-peppered pilsner-light 32 Inning Ale, and coffee bean-fronted chocolate nut-bottomed Gust-N-Gale Porter.

Better choices showing greater depth were sharp floral-fruited hop-embittered Ike’s India Pale Ale and terrific rust-glowed yeast-sinewy Weiss N’ Bock, with its buttery rum theme, candied malt sweetness, bruised orange permeation, and banana-pear fling.

June ’08, tried moderate-bodied Seltzer-like lemon-orange-candied pineapple-apricot-teased pepper-spiced Belgian Wit (served with orange wedge).

On lunchtime July ’10 sojourn to Jersey Shore, stopped by for lemon-wedged floral-tinged citrus-soured Hefeweizen (with its mandarin orange, banana, and clove intrigue). Also discovered nebulous Band-Aid-scented Scotch-dried phenol-spiced copper ale-like Scotch Ale, an astringent barley-toasted peat-smoked pecan-backed misfire that’d vastly improve by next visit.

During November 2011 lunchtime stopover, my friend Fred and I dipped into a sampler tray before discovering one previously untried libation. New brewer Chris Percello (who came aboard over the summer) tweaked a few recipes and upped the quality a bit. Our friendly bartending hostess, Alina, kept us entertained while serving Cuban black bean lentil soup, New York clam chowder, thin crust pizza (with roasted eggplant, fetta cheese, pesto, and tomatos) and deep dish pizza (pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, onions).

Best selling Ike’s India Pale Ale retained a fruitier pining and sturdier hop footprint. A deeper nuttiness, richer roasted hop thrust and dewier peat malting elevated the updated Station House Red Ale. And the dryly nutty Gust-N-Gale Porter easily sufficed.

Afterwards, we got to premier a green version of Uno’s top seasonal offering, the bettered chocolate-spiced version of Scotch Ale, with its peat-y earthen graining, dark caramel malting and caraway-seeded fennel illusions.

Possibly the best selection this sunny afternoon was the American-styled Dark Lager, a quirky medium-bodied German knockoff attaching sedate peanut-oiled mocha dryness to subtle peat-smoked chocolate roast.

To make Uno even more appealing to nearby Route 287 and Garden State Parkway passangers, the $2 happy hour draughts get served Monday thru Friday 4 to 7 and 10 to closing.

 

www.pizzeriauno.com

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