Best Food of 2012: What We Ate


Poll closed at 1694 total votes — winners are Red Eye Cafe, Pig & Prince, Trader Joes, Fairway and Mancinni’s!

Some of the biggest news in Baristaville is food news. This year we brought you the best food Montclair has to offer and told you about every restaurant/eatery/food truck/fro-yo opening (and unfortunately, way too many closings!) . We celebrated with cocktails and shared favorite recipes, including this super secret one. Vote in our poll for your favorite new food development in 2012 (we know it’s hard to choose, so pick your favorites), then scroll down food memory lane for the highlights of 2012. Tell us where you’ve been eating, old and new, in comments.

January: We explored Bloomfield’ secret stash of zongzi and discovered sexy Samba on Park Street.

February: It was cool jazz and elegant fare at Highlawn Pavilion for the Barista ladies and then sneaking into a Montclair-run male only meat night in Belleville more than 10 years running. Frank Gerard Godlewski shared his love for Pals Cabin. Food trucks were big this year, starting with Bloomfield bred Jason Cervone’s French Quarter (try their jambalaya and incredible beignets!) Food Truck.

March: Holly shared the easiest wine party you could ever throw, the first of three more fro-yo establishments opened in Montclair. Koreander brought bubble tea, bulgogi and bibimbap to Watcxhung Plaza, in the former Orbis space. Church Street got Oprah’s favorite red velvet cake with the opening of Cupcakes by Carousel.

April: We introduced a new cocktail mixologist, shared creative Passover recipes sans bread and most exciting — tasted Montclair’s latest pizza entry — Mancinni’s Coal Oven Pizzeria.

May: Jamaican food in Bloomfield at Taste it Again and Banker’s Cafe, an ice cream cafe opens in a former bank space on Bloomfield Ave. Walnut Street gets another new restaurant, with Le Salbuen, which becomes famous for its Latte Nutella and European cafe atmosphere.

June: Lance Knowling returned to Montclair with Indigo Kitchen, the beloved Montclair Bread Company almost closes, but a new baker steps in and brings new life. Also on Walnut — we get amazing coffee, Scotch Egg Banh Mi and great vibe at Red Eye Cafe.

July: Stuffed potatoes roll into Montclair with Hunger Construction Food Truck. Montclair gets great mezze at the curiously-named Uncle Moustache on Bloomfield Ave. Upper Montclair goes Italian with the opening of Tuscany, in the former Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Watchung Plaza gets a great new addition for eat-in/take out with Comfort Food Kitchen. New York gets closer to Montclair with Fairway Woodland Park. We break the story — the long-rumored Trader Joes will come to Clifton.

August: Upper Montclair gets a high-end olive oil emporium with Olive That & More. We cool off with Nick’s Shaved Ice and check out Pig & Prince. We wonder if Montclair can sustain this many fro-yo places.

September: Bloomfield Avenue gets a Persian infusion with Kei Kabob. We track down the best coffee for connoisseurs.

October: We discovered we love tacos, especially fish tacos, and took a trip to Tequilaville, courtesy of Bloomfield’s Senoritas.

November: There were decadent brownies, the possible demise of Twinkies, and for budding food developers — building your own bento box at Toro Sushi. It’s getting cold, so we rounded up some of the best soup around. Readers bemoaned the closing of Elevation Burger, only to learn plans for a re-open in February.

December: The end of the year brings good news for Francophiles – former Epernay owners will reopen restaurant as Fricassee. Trend Coffee Tea House also announces plans to reopen this month. We take a delicious trip to an outer Baristaville coffee shop/dessert emporium, Pallazone 1960 and sit down to coffee with the Stock Pot lady as she celebrates her 95th birthday.


  1. I really love Taqueria Autentica. It’s the only place that makes me miss the food in Sunset Park a little less. Napolitos y Hongos – que rico!

  2. Bivio in Little Falls has the absolute best Neapolitan Pizza around! I’ve brought many of my “foodie friends” there and they are astounded…and then they bring their friends..and so on and so on. Make sure you call for reservations!

  3. Me and my family have several food allergies and are so excited about the new vegan and gluten free bakery in Verona – Pink frosting. We have been going there a lot to get vegan cupcakes. Their stuff is absolutely delicious.

  4. Aji & Limon, Clifton, a Peruvian restaurant where the hot sauce can truly be on the pain level. Nice people, leisurely meals, spacious place.

  5. cbbmo – I’ll second your nomination of Bivio in Little Falls.

    Mancinni’s and Ah’ Pizz can’t hold a candle, never mind a brick oven.

    Truly scrumptious.

  6. silverleaf and cbbmo, is this the little place up from the Falls? I think I’ve driven by it but I guess I thought it was just a slice shop.

  7. I had the singular pleasure of joining cathar at Aji & Limon, Clifton, the Peruvian restaurant where the hot sauce can truly be on the pain level. Nice people, leisurely meals, spacious place. Although cathar ordered guinea pig, I stayed with the pork special, and it was delicious. And, yes, I was one of the “nice” people cathar referred to. cathar can back me up on this. Thanks, bro.

  8. Cro – Bivio’s address is 7 Paterson Ave., right off of Main Street.

    Not your typical pizzeria/slice place at all; more of a trattoria. Been open for about a year; used to be the old Sanctuary Cafe (right next to the now vacent Little Falls Diner.)

    Worth the trip for sure.

    Website below for you.

  9. I can’t “back you up” on anything, Spiro T. (you sorry, wan, wimpish attempt at a “humorist” in the gentlemanly Russell Baker vein), especially your utterly extraneous post above. But should we ever find ourselves together at the Paterson Falls (where I recommend the Texas wieners at Libby’s), I will gladly push you over. To so many others’ relief, I suspect.

  10. Clearly, cathar, the thought of you and I possibly enjoying a meal together while exploring common ground doesn’t strike you as a chance for a thawing out of our digital relationship. Rather, it strikes you as an opportunity to commit an ostentatious felony near a hot dog stand. What can I say, we all have our quirks.

  11. Had the opportunity to try LeSalbuen on Walnut St.
    What a great spot.
    Had an unbelievable Bacon Stuffed Pork Burger on a Brioche bun.
    the apple and onions made this exceptional.
    The ambiance is exceptional, I felt like I was in a cage on the Champs D”Elysee in Paris, with the music, the decor, the cafe tables.
    The staff was knowledgeable and attentive and it was a great experience.
    As one foodie to another if you are a local or just passing through you have to try this spot.

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