Location, location. If you want to have dinner and get to your movie at the Clairidge on time, there’s probably no closer, faster option than Tosca, Church Street’s new Italian featuring brick oven pizzas, pastas, paninis, and salads for lunch as well as more substantial fare (think osso bucco) for dinner.
On two recent visits to Tosca, (one lunch, one dinner) the place was packed with shoppers, families, movie goers and others, getting out from the snow to enjoy a meal. Tosca takes the space formerly occupied by Cianci (which you’ll remember was formerly Suzette — if you remember what was there before that, tell us in comments).
Tosca took away the stark white interior of Cianci. Underneath all that white were original walls of brick, now exposed, as well as original window openings that allow you to look into the arcade of the Hinck Building as well as out onto Church Street. Mounted to the brick walls are rustic shutters flanking the windows — the overall effect is a much warmer space that seems to invite lingering over a bottle of wine (BYOB of course). Adding to the warmth is the centerpiece of the restaurant — a brick oven stove that churns out picture-pretty pizzas that taste as good as they look.
Among the favorite dishes we tried: Tosca’s namesake salad featuring red and yellow beets, shaved fennel, gorgonzola dolce, pignoli nuts, dandelion greens and champagne vinaigrette and the fettucine pepe — a homey bowlful of black pepper fettuccine, butternut squash, cauliflower and shallots in a broth redolent of white truffle oil.
Favorite pizzas (priced between $9-12) were the Rustica – assertive with smoked fresh mozzarella, arugula, calamata olives and parmigiano — and the Diavola — studded with tomato, fresh smoked mozzarella and soppresata. Pizzas are sized to be a meal for one person – or you can share a salad and a pie with your dining companion and feel somewhat virtuous. Another hit was the insalata di mare – a cold salad of calamari, shrimp, mussels, blood oranges, chick peas, dandelion greens tossed with a blood orange vinaigrette.
Tosca, located at 15 Church Street, Montclair (973-337-5724), is open for lunch and dinner.