The Best Local Thing I Ever Ate

BY  |  Thursday, Feb 26, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (9)

The Best Local Thing I Ever AteIn our column, The Best Local Thing I Ever Ate, we ask local chefs, restaurant owners, and food lovers to share their favorite dish in the area. These are the kind of meals that you crave, dream about, salivate over. The meals that you order over and over again.


This month, three picks that are sure to satisfy the need for comfort food in the coldest of winters:

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Artists of All Ages Called to Create Label for Amanti Vino’s “Cuvée Rufus”

BY  |  Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (5)

Amanti Vino

Amanti Vino, the independent wine, beer, and spirits shop on Church Street in Montclair, will release its first private label wine later this year to celebrate its 10th anniversary in business and it wants your help.

Artists of all ages are invited to design labels for the wine, which will be called “Cuvée Rufus,” in honor of the store’s mascot, proprietor Sharon Sevrens’ sweet yellow Labrador Retriever.

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Charity Dinner at Escape Montclair

BY  |  Monday, Feb 23, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Escape Montclair

Bryan Gregg, Chef and Owner of Escape Montclair and a leader in the New Jersey local food movement, will welcome Chef Todd Villani of Carlstadt’s Terre à Terre for a five-course charity dinner on Wednesday March 25.

In the Escape kitchen, Gregg and Villani will craft a locally-sourced, multi-course dinner to benefit cancer research and treatment in New Jersey, a cause important to Chef Gregg, a cancer survivor. The tasting dinner will give guests an opportunity to bring their own wines to pair with the courses. The team at Montclair’s Amanti Vino is also available to make recommendations based on the evening’s menu.

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Montclair’s Restaurant Blu and Next Door to Close in August

BY  |  Friday, Feb 20, 2015 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Restaurant Blu Last July Baristanet learned that Zod Arifai, Executive Chef/Owner of Restaurant Blu and Next Door, had plans to close his popular Montclair restaurants after their leases expired around March 2015. We learned this week that the restaurants will close forever on Sunday, August 30.

“Montclair has been wonderful to me for the past 10 years,” said Arifai in the press release. “We have some great eaters here who truly enjoy food and it’s been a pleasure cooking for them.”

His unconventional, exciting and unique world-influenced New American cuisine — coupled with his personal style and great sense of humor — has made Arifai and his restaurants consistent favorites among locals and critics alike.

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Ladies Night with Java Love and Olive That and More

BY  |  Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (2)

Java Love

There will be dozens of local ladies grinding and swirling on an upcoming March night in Montclair.

Java Love and Olive That And More are hosting a fun ladies night out with cocktails, coffee and oil tastings and food pairings, special discounts, giveaways, and fun at their Ladies Night: Grind & Swirl event on Thursday, March 12.

“Who needs 50 Shades when you have coffee and olive oil?” ask the specialty Montclair shops.

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Let Them Eat Cake! King Cake or Pancakes Today for Mardi Gras

BY  |  Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

King Cake

Today is Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, aka Shrove Tuesday! According to News Orleans Showcase, Mardi Gras season begins on January 6 of each year and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. As part of celebrating the time between Christianity’s Epiphany and Lent, it was traditional to bake a King Cake in honor of the three kings who visited Jesus when he was born. The cakes are oval-shaped to symbolize the unity of faiths and decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors –– purple for justice, green representing faith, and gold for power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is traditionally hidden inside each King Cake. The person who receives the baby or coin in his slice of cake is considered the king or queen of the party –– and obligated to host the next gathering. It’s also said the the person who gets that piece will have luck for the year.

Pancakes are also a traditional meal today. The fluffy flapjacks are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before 40 days of fasting.

You can get your own King Cake, other Mardi Gras desserts, or pancakes at these local eateries:

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Restaurant Review: Ariane Kitchen & Bar

BY  |  Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (12)

arianeAriane Duarte closed her beloved Montclair restaurant CulinAriane because she no longer wanted to run a special occasion place, she said, but “wanted to have fun.” She appears to have gotten her wish with her new restaurant in Verona, Ariane Kitchen & Bar. When we left the restaurant last Friday night, we had to shove past the crowds that had gathered at the bar — a robust and lively bunch that were clearly happy to be at Duarte’s hot new venture. While I have to say I preferred the quiet intimacy of her last place — which probably has something to do with the fact that I’m middle aged, and my tastes now veer more toward the tranquil and less toward the raucous — I’m happy to say Duarte’s food is still top notch.

Seated in the back, in one of the restaurant’s funky and plush oversized seats, I had to the chase the waiter away when he approached the table with our third helping of croissants, the bread that is served before the meal. As good as it was, I heeded every mother’s exhortation to not “spoil my dinner” by filling up beforehand.

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UPDATE: Celebrate Brazilian Carnival With Samba Montclair

BY  |  Friday, Feb 06, 2015 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Samba Montclair

UPDATE: Carnival at Samba has been moved to Friday, February 20.

It is 7° as I write this. If there’s one thing I need to get by on a freezing day like today, it’s to think warm thoughts. Samba Montclair, the area’s authentic Brazilian restaurant, will help with its annual Carnival celebration! This year’s celebration on Thursday, February 19 Friday, February 20, will offer live music, dancers, and lots of delicious specials.

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Call Out For the Best Chili in Montclair

BY  |  Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)


The Montclair Fund For Educational Excellance (MFEE) is looking for 30 courageous chili cooks to put their chili recipe to the test at the Montclair Fund For Educational Excellance (MFEE) Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, April 11 at the Women’s Club of Upper Montclair.

The MFEE is looking for some of the tastiest, tangiest & most Montclair chili from Montclair home cooks and professional chefs to compete for prizes and bragging rights, plus enjoy good cheer and Jersey beer. If your chili has what it takes, save the date and start planning.

Celebrity judges will decide the winners for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place overall (regardless of category). Event guests will also vote to choose the People’s Choice winner.

Complete the entry form and submit it by email (or fax to 973-509-4098) before February 27 and check out the guidelines below:

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Get Your Tickets to Taste of Montclair

BY  |  Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Taste of Montclair

With more than 30 of the most talked about and celebrated restaurants and food crafters around, Taste of Montclair is the community’s largest food-centric charity event. 100% of ticket sales go to the charities supported by the Rotary Club of Montclair including Toni’s Kitchen, the Human Needs Food Pantry, and the feeding programs of the Salvation Army.

Taste of Montclair is the kick off event to Montclair Restaurant Week, which runs from March 9 – 15, and is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Montclair. It is the club’s “Thank You” to the restaurants that support the Rotary and our charitable efforts.

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Also, just a side note, I absolutely LOVE how civil and respectful this discussion is compared to what has happened on Facebook in the last week.

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