Green Brook Township, NJ 08812
Capital Craft (CC) is a gastropub that styles itself as a taphouse and grille, featuring coal-fired pizza. In short, it is the hipster equivalent of a restaurant featuring a quality bar with hours of operation reflecting the nights of the week most popular for drinking. Everyday Capital Craft opens at 11:30 am, but it closes at midnight Monday through Wednesday, at 1 am on Thursday, 2 am on Friday and Saturday, and 9 pm on Sunday. This restaurant seems to be an independent venture between multiple partners; though, it is suspiciously styled much like another Capital Craft (Beer Academy) with two locations in Pretoria, South Africa, but I can’t comment too much on that. No matter, our Capital Craft has its own distinct atmosphere and offers a number of specials every night highlighting both drink and grub.
As per the rules of the Tummy Take Away, this review is being written after several visits over a period of more than a year, so I feel more than comfortable in providing a comprehensive assessment of Capital Craft and everything it has to offer. The proprietors of Capital Craft assumed control of a building that once housed a Grimaldi’s Pizzeria famous for its brick oven pizzas. I bring this up only because I wonder if Capital Craft features coal-fired pizza because its management happened to get a good deal on a location with a brick oven. In my opinion, the 12-inch gourmet pizzas of varying flavors, from margherita to Thai chili chicken, coal fired at CC are some of the weakest offerings on the menu. The crust tends to be more hard than soft, and while I can appreciate the “burnt” aesthetic and taste, I think it has been taken a bit too far with these pies. Nonetheless, sometimes these pizzas hit the mark. One of the best “specialty” pizzas I have ever had was cooked in CC’s oven. Unfortunately, the steak and potato pizza appeared on the specials menu, and I was only able to have it once. My dinning partner has also noted that the BBQ pulled pork pizza has its moments as well. I guess my main problem with the pizza is its inconsistency.
Other menu items have more flavor, more style, more consistency, and are generally more fulfilling. Their mac and cheese bowl, which can be served with chicken, bacon, and/or broccoli is delectable and always on point. The burgers are generally juicy, flavorful, and filling. The fish n’ chips, chicken & waffles, salads, short ribs, baby back ribs, half roasted chicken are all generally well received. Sometimes the vegetables are overcooked; though, I prefer more crispy veggies than not, and the French fires could be sleeker, but all-in-all the main dishes are worth the moderate prices Capital Craft’s guests must pay.
If there is any food aside from the pizza to complain about, it would have to be the specials. Sometimes the specials are excellent. Last night I had a perfectly cooked and flavored prime rib, but there have been other dishes that were not so well executed. A week ago, I ordered the elk burger. There were a number of issues with this plate. The restaurant likes to tout, if not pride itself, on locally sourced ingredients, which is all very well and good. Who doesn’t like farm-to-table veggies and meats? So, in considering the elk, I asked my server its provenance, which she did not know. This is no big deal; after all, the server is not the chef. Eventually, the day manager walked over and explained that the elk was locally sourced from a farm in Boonton, NJ, but the meat was from Colorado. This was an odd explanation to say the least. Elk do not live in New Jersey, and if the meat was from Colorado, then . . . well, you see the disconnect. Anyway, the burger featured elk and brie. Within seconds of my first bite, two things were obvious. The elk was too dry (overprepared perhaps) and the brie was overwhelming. The sandwich could have been much more if a less invasive cheese was used and the elk was prepared with more care. All of this is to say, that patrons at Capital Craft should be mindful and ask questions of their servers before ordering from the daily specials.
Generally speaking, the servers will have the answer or will gladly find the answer for you. There are some servers who are slower or less friendly than others, but that is generally the case at all restaurants. Even on busy days or nights, my party has never been forgotten, and the server, aided by table runners, is usually easy to find. There are one or two of them that insist on taking orders by memory, and I have run into problems with this. For instance, there is one server who will consistently forget to bring me a water even after my second request. Another server forgot to hold the mayo on a sandwich I had ordered, but for the most part, the servers remain fairly accurate, friendly, and obliging. I like how the servers will also seat patrons if the host is absent from the desk, but the hosts themselves can be rude and inconsiderate. When a restaurant is full this complaint is irrelevant, but when it is almost empty or half full, then a host should consider the personal space of the guests when seating one party next to another. Down the middle of the dinning room is a two-sided bench, and each side has 2-person and four-person tables that feature chairs on the outside. I have seen the hosts repeatedly sit a new party next to a dinning party when they could have easily been seated a table a part. In my mind, this is an unnecessary infiltration of dining space. Hosts at Capital Craft also have a habit of neglecting requests for water or to-go boxes from patrons, assuming the responsibility not theirs. This is just plain rude.
Overall, Capital Craft is a moderately priced restaurant-bar featuring a good beer (many local craft brews on tap) and drink selection and a worthwhile menu. When I go to Capital Craft I usually order the flight of the night; though, you can make a flight by combining a small of any of the over 20 different beers on tap. I usually order a cheeseburger, and if still thirsty, I get a pint of beer. Desserts at CC are generally good, even though they removed their best option, the bier sabayon. When I and my party walk out of Capital Craft, we usually leave with our tummies full.