‘Watts for Dinner’: Marco Island Brewery is crafty in more than just beer

Will Watts

Our next dining destination is the Marco Island Brewery in the newly (and finally) remodeled Marco Town Center.

First, a little background. The Brewery was owned and operated by the LaCava Family for many years. It is currently owned and operated by Island-based Jones Restaurant Group. The establishment offers 40 different varieties of craft beers from around the globe and features 40 HD TVs in the dining areas.

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Things got off to an appetizing start with the “Jersey Fries” ($9). What are Jersey fries, you ask? It’s New Jersey’s answer to Canada’s “Poutine Disco Fries,” or gravy, fries and cheese. The variations do differ. You may find “Disco Fries” topped with a cheddar cheese sauce and/or with cheese curds, melted Gruyere, a beef or a chicken gravy. Jersey fries have a brown gravy and melted mozzarella cheese.

My table was split on these fries. We both though a white gravy would be much better, as would the elimination of the cheese. Yes, that would be a different dish entirely. Here’s the thing. After several jaunts through the southern states, fried potatoes and white gravy is a thing – as is biscuits and white gravy: or just about anything and white gravy. Not being familiar with Jersey fries, I think our expectations defaulted to this southern favorite.

That being said, I liked these a lot more than my tablemate. The potatoes were cooked nice and crispy. There was just enough cheese and gravy. There’s no doubt in my mind that these fit the specifications and taste expectations perfectly for those knowing what the heck they are ordering.

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We also sampled some “Brew House Jumbo Wings” ($12.50). When ordering the wings, you have some choices to make. Bone-in or boneless? Mile, hot, killer hot, barbecue, sesame Asian, garlic parmesan, hot garlic teriyaki or firecracker? You get celery sticks and, for a small additional charge, bleu cheese.

We selected the boneless, mild. And let me just say, these are perhaps the best boneless wings I’ve ever eaten. I’ve tried boneless many times before. And lots of places seem to say, “you don’t want the bone, well what do you know about wings.” Then just deliver something Frankenstein-ish that barely resemble chicken. Not here. These were as big as chicken tenders; the coating was like a tempura – very tasty – and the flavoring was mild but delicious. And the bleu cheese? So good! Chunks of real cheese! Yum!

For my main entrée (and yes, I’m still eating at this point), I selected the pork tenderloin sandwich ($14.50). The meat is pounded thin, breaded and lightly fried, like a milanesa. It’s served on a brioche bun, with lettuce, tomato, onions and pickle. This sandwich was amazing. The bread was super fresh, the pork featured a subtle flavor and the toppings were just right. I only added mayo.

All sandwiches are served with the Brewery’s delicious cole slaw. You can add fries or tots for $1.50; or onion rings, curly fries or sweet potato fries for $2.50.

My dining companion opted for the grouper tacos ($16.75). This dish features fried grouper (or you can get blackened mahi instead) served on warm flour tortillas with lettuce, cheddar cheese and a “secret sauce.” You can choose from rice and beans or chips and pico. The grouper was huge and fried to a crispy golden brown. The tacos earned rave reviews. And let me tell you, we’ve eaten a lot of grouper in this town – so it was high praise.    

While much of what the Marco Island Brewery offers might seem familiar to diners, all these items in this specific combo, sitting in the middle of Paradise is a welcome experience. Happy eating!

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This newspaper pays for all meals related to dining reviews. We do not solicit or accept free food. Not all dishes are featured in print, but you can find a gallery of all reviewed dishes online at marconews.com.

If you go

Marco Island Brewery

  • 1089 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island
  • 239-970-0461
  • marcoislandbrewery.com