welcome from a former, fellow new jersey-ite. i miss that place.
i've never had acl reconstruction but had major ligament problems as a kid and i remember my doc telling me to cycle to strengthen it back then. it must've worked ok because i'm still standing. i hope it works well for you too.
I will be getting a road bike soon (hopefully) and I think the best combination of quality and price is probably a used road bike from a bike shop. That way you can get a decent bike at a good price and you should be able to get the same service/maintainance as you would if you bought a new road bike from a shop.
If you can't find a shop that sells used road bikes, maybe go for a low/intermediate new bike and upgrade parts when you feel that you need to.