Originally in The Press Of Atlantic City
by Danielle Davies
If Wildwood is experiencing a renaissance — and a simple glance at their weekly events will confirm it is — then restaurant owner Brendan Sciarra is right in the thick of it.
Sciarra just opened the first and only brewpub there — MudHen Brewing Co. While much of New Jersey has seen an upswing in breweries, there are only a handful of brewpubs in our region. Brewpubs differ from breweries in one critical way: they can serve food. So while craft beer is being brewed on-site, MudHen has a menu that’s as diverse and delicious as any around.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Sciarra, the owner of two other Wildwood restaurants — Dogtooth Bar & Grill and Poppi’s Brick Oven — has proven to have both a knack for identifying potential as well as the energy to make things happen. With three restaurants now within just blocks of each another, Sciarra has cemented himself as a Wildwood change maker and MudHen as the place to be this summer.
“We’re really bringing people from other parts of the county into town,” says Sciarra, on the draw of MudHen as Wildwood’s first brewery. “The kids can come and play, you can stay and sit … there’s a lot of space for moving around and it’s been great for helping to build up Wildwood.”
The first thing to notice about MudHen Brewing Co. is that it’s visually arresting. Housed in the building that was formerly the Harley-Davidson Shop of Wildwood, both its well-lit marquee as well as large and inviting outdoor seating area beckons beachgoers, travelers and locals alike. And that’s just the outside.
Both Sciarra and his wife Robin were instrumental in the nuanced décor of MudHen Brewing Co. During the course of a three-year renovation, the Sciarras, with help from an architect, have completely transformed the space. Gone is any evidence of a motorcycle shop. Instead, the building has gone through a metamorphosis, incorporating exposed brick, hardwoods, and graphic tiles with high ceilings and lots of places for lounging on velvet or leather couches. The end result is a contemporary and fun venue with — at 2,500 square feet and seating for 275 people — room for all your friends.
And while you’ll be hard pressed to leave the cool ambiance and décor of the interior of MudHen, make sure you spend some time outside as well. With a fire pit, corn hole, checkers, super-sized Jenga and quite often, live music, grabbing a patio table should be top on your list of things to do this summer.
Nothing about MudHen Brewing Co. was done as an afterthought, and the food is no exception. Sure, there are the usual options — burgers, crab cakes, salads. But it’s the details that make each item on the menu, created by Celebrity Chef Brian Duffy from the Food Network, stand out.