Many years ago, when my father worked in the Northern NJ area, he would always take me to the same place if I visited. I knew about the Hamilton Park Ale House before I really knew anything else about Jersey City. Ironically, after being priced out of Brooklyn, my husband and I wound up buying a condo in the Hamilton Park area of downtown Jersey City almost 2 years ago – just blocks away from the Ale House.
The Hamilton Park Ale House has long been a staple of downtown JC. Under the watchful guise of Maggie Vecca, a former waitress turned co-owner, the Ale House thrived and was a local favorite. The food was always top-notch, especially considering the other choices in the area at that time. Executive chef, Krista Trovato, had been a cook at impressive locales such as Gramercy Tavern and the World Trade Center’s Windows of the World before coming to the Ale House.
In recent years, however, since Maggie (also involved with Skinner’s Loft) sold the bar the service and food has gone downhill. One of the biggest issues that had surfaced in my mind…the lack of a good beer selection – they do call themselves an “ale house.” I have read many complaints about the owner that came after Maggie, Jim Leo, and how he ran the bar into the ground. I can attest to the validity of these rumors. The food and service became terrible. Their burger wasn’t even that great. For me, it was the brunch that was the worst. We only had it once. It’s a shame because it’s so nice to walk a few blocks from home in the nice weather and sit outside for brunch. We just haven’t found anything that fits the bill for a good brunch with outdoor seating. (I will write about Beret’s Simple Café in a later post).
After a long phase of papered windows, there is a new name on the window: The Hamilton Inn. There has also been some activity in the way of renovations. I have read some rumors online that the new deal for the Hamilton Inn fell through and that management ran out of capital after the renovation. It has been quite a long time since we noticed the reno being done, but I cannot confirm the validity of these rumors. There’s a short blurb from November 2009 in the Jersey City Independent that states the Hamilton Inn would open in a few weeks, but obviously that didn’t happen. Although, there is another article in JCI that discusses Jessie Dardar – the chef behind JC dessert truck La Petite Temptation – who is “readying to supply desserts for the Hamilton Inn, which is set to open in the former Hamilton Ale House space on Jersey Avenue this April.” So, maybe we’ll get lucky next month and see an open door. I did find the official Hamilton Inn website where there is no new information about their much anticipated and elusive opening. However, if you give your email address they promise to send you “information” about their opening.
For now, we’ll just have to wait it out. If I find out any new information, I’ll write an updated post. In the meantime, check out The White Star bar on Pavonia and Brunswick. They boast a good burger and decent beer selection, better than the Ale House has had in years.
The Hamilton Inn (formerly the Hamilton Park Ale House), 708 Jersey Avenue, Hamilton Park Jersey City.