Acappello Sings To Your Tastebuds

(First published on Baristanet 11.11.11)

First cousins Dardan Mati, Ben Husenaj and Naz Husenaj were singing a familiar business reprise when they opened Acappello on Bloomfield Ave a month ago. The restaurant, named with a nod to the Wellmont Theater next door, is their fifth restaurant in New Jersey, following Cara Mia in Millburn, La Campagna in Morristown, La Catena in Bridgewater and La Catena 22 in Roselle Park. (more…)

March 24, 2012. Tags: , , . American, Italian, Restaurants, Reviews. Leave a comment.

Anthony’s Cheesecake: A Year in Bloomfield

It’s been a year in Bloomfield, NJ for Anthony’s Cheesecake, whose repertoire has expanded to breakfast, brunch and lunch, alongside a mouthwatering array of baked goodies. You get all types when it comes to restaurateurs, but I like Anthony’s type best. Friendly and down-to-earth, and it’s nice that we both take food inspiration from our grandmothers. It also helps that he always remembers my (cake loving) son’s name and asks about him.

Here’s the story I wrote about Anthony’s Cheesecake when it opened last year.

I talked to him as the cafe celebrated its first anniversary recently, and here’s what he said: (more…)

October 18, 2011. Tags: , . American, Baked Goods, Restaurants, Reviews, Stories. Leave a comment.

Brick Lane Sizzles in Montclair

(A version of this review was published on Baristanet, July 26, 2011. This review includes dishes and photos from a subsequent visit. )

In the midst of the most blistering summer week in recent memory on the eastern seaboard, residents gave Brick Lane, Montclair’s new and most eagerly awaited Indian restaurant, a fervent welcome.

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August 13, 2011. Tags: , , . Asian, Indian, Restaurants, Reviews. Leave a comment.

Harrar, Ethiopian in South Orange

(Published on Baristanet June 21, 2011)

When the main component of your meal also serves as plate and spoon, it had better be tasty. And Harrar, an Ethiopian restaurant on the shop-and-restaurant-lined Village Plaza of South Orange, has its traditional sourdough flatbread, known as injera, down to a fine art.

The teff-based flatbread (teff is a high-fiber, high-iron, tiny grain harvested from an annual grass native to the northeast African highlands), is similar in texture but not ingredients to the Southern Indian dosa, a pancake which also goes through a fermentation process, and a labor-intensive grinding preceding it. (more…)

June 21, 2011. Tags: , . Ethiopian, Restaurants, Reviews, Stories. Leave a comment.

Mes Reves: Classical French in Bloomfield

(A version of this was published on Baristanet Feb. 18, 2010)

Broad Street in Bloomfield has become a veritable haunt for foodies. With Momoya, Brookside Thai and Pandan, Bohemia and Stamna in close proximity, the slick Mes Reves is in a building all its own – a shiny new star on a block where the other stores and restaurants are stacked shoulder to shoulder.

The restaurant doesn’t let on much from the outside, but I felt my post-work tensions dissipate as I walked into its airy and light interior, where tasteful light fixtures, glass panels, pale yellow upholstery and warm, oak-stained floors come together harmoniously (yet unostentatiously).

Mes Reves (French for my dreams) opened its doors on Feb. 7, and appeared to be off to an encouraging start, enjoying a full house on Valentine’s Day, and a reasonably brisk dining room on subsequent evenings, one of which included familiar faces such as those of Bloomfield’s Mayor Ray McCarthy and several members of the town council. (more…)

February 27, 2011. Tags: , , . French, Restaurants, Reviews. 4 comments.

Authentic Thai and Vietnamese in Bloomfield, NJ

(Published on Baristanet Jan. 13, 2011)

JukGajee – Thai on Broad St

How does it work if a Thai restaurant decides it needs to also present burgers on its menu? My Baristanet colleague Annette Batson and I decided to investigate.

JukGajee, on Broad St in Bloomfield, occupies a huge space over two stories, with the upper level dedicated to events and functions. Manager, Chan Vinh, 40, who lives in West Orange and hails from the Chonburi province of Thailand, said JukGajee was his first restaurant and that he had worked before in a restaurant with his father in Yonkers. (more…)

January 18, 2011. Tags: , , . Asian, Restaurants, Reviews, Thai, Vietnamese. 2 comments.

Plum Pickings on Park St

(Published on Baristanet, Nov. 16, 2010)

Once in a while, you meet a restaurateur who captures your attention not just for their culinary talent, but for their genuine warmth and candor. This was one of those occasions (the last was – can you believe it? – a year ago at Pahang in Verona, NJ)

Something fruity’s cropped up on Park St, Plum, a new restaurant that’s blossomed right on the old premises of Market.

Run by a warm and passionate young woman called Natalie Colledge, and named for the plum cakes commonly found in Germany where Colledge’s predecessors hail from, Plum serves breakfast and lunch, much of which is cooked or baked on the premises. (more…)

November 18, 2010. Tags: , . American, Baked Goods, Restaurants, Reviews. Leave a comment.

Tea for Two, in Nutley and Westfield

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

How is it possible that something brewed from dried leaves, which looks so innocuous, can be so evocative? Yet, tea both inspires and soothes. And it’s the first thing I’m after (not the martini, Mrs Draper) when I walk through my front door after work.

There’s nothing as comforting as a good, hot cup of it – its color, flavor, aroma, and, of course, its celebrated calming qualities. Throw some fresh-made scones and clotted cream into the mix and this becomes an irresistible repast. (more…)

November 7, 2010. Tags: , , , . American, Restaurants, Reviews, Tea. Leave a comment.

Lack of Focus (and Flavor) at Bamboo

Staying  power seems to have eluded a string of restaurants on Valley Road in Montclair, NJ, a fantastic street that’s chock full of interesting shops and other restaurants.

First was Fawa, on 605 Valley, which kept me at bay its claims about French-Asian fusion food. ‘Fusion’ isn’t a very inviting concept, though I love French food on its own, and any stripe of Asian food, on its own. Fawa sat there for months, ventured into by exactly two friends who didn’t have anything remarkable to say about it, and was replaced by Sakura (click on the link to read a story about that and other sushi restaurants in the area). Before I could even get excited, and despite quickly earning a reputation for creativity with the food presentation (ominously, like its predecessor), it, too, folded. (more…)

October 4, 2010. Asian, Restaurants, Reviews. 2 comments.

Restaurant Review: Costanera

(Published on Baristanet Sep. 17, 2010)

In the expansive and romantically lit interior of Montclair, NJ’s relatively new Peruvian restaurant, Costanera, and awash with its intoxicating scents, sights and sounds, it’s easy to be transported to Lima, or Quito, or another busy Latin city.

The restaurant, whose earth-tone walls were studded with slices of log on the one side, and wood cutouts of animal and large insects on the other, was a hive of activity at 7:00pm on a recent Saturday evening, and almost packed to capacity when I visited it with my husband and two young sons.

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September 18, 2010. American, Latin, Restaurants, Reviews, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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