Montclair Station – New Restaurant Open For Business

The long-awaited, and certainly the most architecturally challenging local restaurant, Montclair Station, finally opened Monday, March 29. Rebuilt from the fire-ravaged station house under the scrutiny of NJ Transit, Montclair township, and NJ Historical Society, the project has been years in the making. “This is the first public/private venture of its kind for NJ Transit, generating collateral income,” says entrepreneur Ralph Nuzzo. The prized porte-cochere stands restored at the entrance, a gleaming wood wrap-around bar and a dazzling menu await you inside.
Situated track-side at NJ Transit’s Upper Montclair train stop, Montclair Station is perhaps the only full-service bistro and bar serving continuously from 6am through 10pm in Baristaville. Restaurant manager Charles Nuzzo was understandably bursting with excitement on opening day.
“We want to be known for serving upscale food at reasonable prices. And convenient. Come in any time for a meal or to graze. We’ll take phone orders from the train; just tell us what time the train comes in, and we’ll have your take-out ready. Or come have a drink at the bar, we’ll have it ready when you want it,” says Charles.

MTCsta2.jpg Int.MTCsta.jpg

The Nuzzo brothers labored over the menu with executive chef Steve Mohren, a Montclair resident who promised the owners he knows what works in Baristaville. The result is a creative menu of round-the-clock comfort food plus more elaborately conceived dinner entrees.
Breakfast is grab-and-go for train commuters; homemade soups and pasta, paninis, salads ($9) and thin-crust pizzas ($10/11) are served throughout the day, as are their tapas style “small plates.” How do kobe beef sliders with asian slaw ($14) or gnocchi with wild mushrooms, prosciutto, swiss chard and parmigiano cream ($12) sound? This week’s soup selections are tempting: black bean chili with jalapeno cheddar cornbread ($7), and lobster chowder with roasted corn and smoked bacon ($9).
Chef Mohren will be mixing up the menu every couple of weeks with new selections, and his signature dishes are of the fish variety. This week’s dinner menu has five fish selections such as diver scallops with andouille sausage and squash hash, sauteed spinach and poblano cream ($22) and grilled tuna with melted leeks, roasted tomato, serrano ham and romesco sauce ($23). Meat entrees include seared duck breast, ancho chili-orange reduction($19) and a 12 ounce Angus sirloin with brandy cream sauce ($27). Two sides of your choice are included.
The wine formula is easy, reds and whites priced in three tiers: $20, $30, and $40 per bottle. Desserts are also a favorite of the chef. I had the guilty pleasure of tasting a Latino classic – crunchy coconut-topped tres leches cake with a side scoop of hazelnut gelatto. It may have been the most delicious tres leches I’ve tasted.
Kids: there’s no special kids menu, however, Charles assured me that there are always chicken fingers and fries in the kitchen as well as kid-friendly pasta and sandwiches.
Parking: Daytime, the restaurant has 10 spots in the NJT lot; after 6pm, come one, come all. The municipal lot is just across the tracks.
Chef Mohren, classically trained, with a passion for innovation, came over from Highlawn Pavilion and The Manor. Prior experience includes Patria and Bollo in Manhattan. His sous-chef, Michael Reese, just moved to Montclair from a position at Seaview Country Club in Galloway, NJ. We’ll give them a few weeks to work out opening kinks, but I’m hopeful for this ambitious new venture. Montclair Station, Bellevue Avenue, Montclair, 973-337-5828.
–Left to right: Chef Steve Mohren, Ralph Nuzzo, Charles Nuzzo

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  1. Good luck ! It will be nice to have a restaurant with a bar in the neighborhood. Now if someone could do something with that Mountain Avenue station…..

  2. Cool! Looking forward to trying it out. I bet that they put a kids menu in place within 6 months – if they want to fill those seats they will need to be family friendly.

  3. Ate there last night. Ambitious and varied menu. Decent crowd. Mix of couples and young families. Some rough edges that you wold expect with a new establishment. Overall quite good.

  4. Went this evening — food was great (try the short ribs — menu is large and many choices), very child friendly and everyone was very pleasant. Throw in the extra entertainment of the trains going by for the kids and we are regulars!

  5. We tried Montclair Station last night. Found the food to be excellent and reasonably priced. Really enjoyed the skirt steak skewers with dipping sauces, as well as the mushroom pizza.

  6. Went there last night. We didn’t order from the main entree menu, just a hamburger for me and a personal pizza and chicken fingers for the kids. The food was very good, though I wouldn’t call it a bargain. The burger was $10 (came with fries) – it was tasty with a great bun, about a 7 on a 1 to 10 scale. The personal size margarita pizza was $9. The pizza was very good, with fresh mozzarella. The only true children’s item was chicken fingers with fries (it is not on the menu but can be requested) for $5. Decent selection of draft beers and a full bar.
    The service was very good, especially considering it was the 3rd day of operations. I like the space – it is a single open room with a high ceiling and the bar in the middle.
    We were there between 6 and 7 pm. More than half of the tables were occupied by families with children, like us. Given the demographics of the area and the number of families that will likely frequent this place, I am further convinced that they should have a some additional children’s selections (similar to the types of options that Uptown offers.)

  7. “The only true children’s item was chicken fingers with fries”
    No wonder we have such an childhood obesity epidemic! Why do we have special “children’s food” and why is it fried chicken and fried potatoes?
    I really hate how parents have deemed “children’s food” to be grilled cheese and fries, hamburgers and fries, nuggets and fries, etc. What about regular ol’ food? My toddler eats whatever we eat, which is organic food, two veggies at every meal, and lots of fruit. And he LOVES it.

  8. You’d never know Montclair Station just opened. I had the pleasure of eating there last night and it was just lovely. Friendly, attentive service, good food and moderately priced. I’ll 100% be back.

  9. I ate here recently and the bar is nice, the food was ok, but a bit overpriced. Service was absolutely horrible. It took us over an hour to get our food and the appetizers came out after the entrees. There were other tables that were seated, served, and left before we even received our food. In addition, it was obvious the manager was aware of our displeasure, yet did nothing to remedy the situation or even offer an apology.
    I had high hopes for this restaurant and was excited when it opened, but will not be returning.

  10. Six of us ate here Friday night for the first time. The food was just average, overpriced, and the service was horrendous. Not sure if we will return.

  11. Sounds like the restaurant should have had a soft opening to work out the kinks.
    I did not eat there so I can’t review it. However there was a sign on the door yesterday morning when I caught the train stating that (paraphrased) “due to lack of support there will no longer be coffee service in the morning.”
    Sounds like they are blaming the customers and this doesn’t sound like good customer service to me. Perhaps more advertising, or if coffee business is slow handing out samples to bring in customers might be a plan.

  12. We truly wanted to like this place. After all, finally an un-creepy alternative to Charlie Brown’s where you can order a beer or glass of wine with dinner, right?
    Sadly, we went a couple weeks ago and it was an unmitigated disaster. We were seated at 7:00. Ordered a few minutes later. And we received our food at 9:25. This is not an exaggeration.
    To make matters worse, we had two young kids with us. In the words of Colonel Kurtz, “The Horror.”
    And to complete the evening, our waiter didn’t apologize or offer us anything on the house. Had he even come out with a single chocolate chip for the family to share, I’d at least have thought “hey, he’s trying.” But no. No delicious morsel for us. Only shame that we paid $100 for a really trying night.
    And no more Upper Montclair Station Restaurant.

  13. I had the pleasure of eating there this past weekend, and have no complaints whatsoever. The staff was attentive, the food reasonably priced, and quite good. I have been in the restaaurant industry for twenty plus years, and have opened a few restaurants. There are always issues for the first few months of operation. Let them work the kinks out, the operations shows huge potential. It seems that this page has become a place where people just want to vent their complaints. There are always disapointed people walking out the door of restaurants, not all of them though. This is the nature of the business.
    “We were seated at 7:00. Ordered a few minutes later. And we received our food at 9:25. This is not an exaggeration,” posted up above. If I had waited almost two and a half hours for a meal, I would have gotten up and left, especially if my kids were there. Obviously you are exaggerating.

  14. I agree with Mr. Chong — and in fact, I have been there, with kids in two, big groups and had fantastic experience every time. We love this restaurant and are very happy to have it in walking distance of our house. I have also met a girlfriend here for drinks & thought it was very enjoyable…fun atmosphere, clean, good service, really nice!
    The only complaint I have (and perhaps the owner will peruse this board & read this suggestion) is they could use some kind of sound buffer. It’s very noisy (which is good with kids cause you don’t worry about them annoying people!) But because the floors are tile and the ceilings are so high, the noise reverberates and it’s hard to hear when you’re trying to have a conversation. I know there are things they can do to buffer sound, so that would be my only suggestion.
    The food is excellent! I love the salmon & I had a fish special one night that was really delicious. Good wine choices by the glass too!

  15. What happened to this place? The menu seemed to change a lot since our last visit. My wife and I came back after having great food our first time. She had the gnocchi and it definitely isn’t the same as before. The flavors just don’t seem the same, but I had the shortribs & they were excellent.
    We understand that it is fairly new and they need some time to adjust, but the food is the best thing that place has going for them or had. I see some things didn’t change and given by the posts above – we weren’t the only ones that aren’t so fond of the noise issue. Like cmeinmontclair said, I too, hope the owners read this and do something about the noise. We wanted to like this place, but i’m not sure we will be back.

  16. Thanks for setting me straight, Mr.Chong.
    I admit, my story was all an elaborate ruse because I have a personal vendetta against restaurants at train stations.
    Chong, you’re a tool.
    In fact, you’re an entire toolshed.
    Why did I wait for over 2 hours for my food? Because as I said, I really wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt.
    Beyond that…after about an hour you naturally assume the food will arrive at any minute, so you wait it out.
    The after having invested an hour and a half, you realize you’re in it too deep. You can’t pull out now.
    Surely Mr.Chong, you’d have left at this point to get home to watch your favorite reruns of Charles in Charge.
    But not me. At this point, I was not just hungry, but angry, and I’d let myself get into the twisted mindframe that thinks “I’m not going to let this stupid place beat me, no siree. I’m staying. I’m eating.”
    Plus, I realized the kids would go ape balls crazy if we left at this point after promising them food for the previous two hours.
    Moral of the story:
    Mr. Chong wears women’s underwear on his head.
    And I’m a moron for waiting too long for my food.

  17. Hahaaa.
    I was waiting for Butters to reply.
    And again I say, this page has turned into another place for people to complain.
    I am eating at the station tonight for dinner, this will be my fourth time going.
    I still have no complaints. I did have the Bolognese last time, it was great.
    Butters, you have issues, there is therapy out there for that. Look into it.

  18. Hahaaa.
    I was waiting for Butters to reply.
    And again I say, this page has turned into another place for people to complain.
    I am eating at the station tonight for dinner, this will be my fourth time going.
    I still have no complaints. I did have the Bolognese last time, it was great.
    Butters, you have issues, there is therapy out there for that. Look into it.

  19. Went there for lunch with my wife. Decent, but somewhat overpriced. Have to agree with the other reviewers who say the service stinks. It took over an hour for them to serve our food, despite the fact that we were one of only two seated tables at the time. We won’t be going back.

  20. I’ve eaten there twice and will likely eat there many, many more times. The food is good! I think they have my favorite fries in all of Montclair! The bar food is excellent: jalepenos poppers, sliders, fried goat cheese, fries, etc are all YUM. I haven’t tried the more expensive fancy dishes. The french onion soup looks amazing and as soon as it’s not 90 degrees out, I plan on trying it. And, the pickles? I have no clue what they are, but they are delicious! You bite in and it’s sweet, then spicy! Seriously the tastiest pickles I’ve ever had!
    That being said, no place is perfect. Here’s my CONSTRUCTIVE criticism:
    1) Ambiance: Something is off. I think it’s too light and airy to be a bar. Or, maybe it’s just odd feeling that the bar is right there amongst all the tables full of kids. I think this place should take advantage of the fact that they have a liquor liense and go more the bar route and less the family restaurant route. I have kids and when I go out alone for a drink, I don’t want children at the table 3 feet away. Families with kids have plenty of places to eat in this town, so an adult-oriented place would be great. (Or, like Egans, where kids come sometimes, but it doesn’t feel like they are amongst you.) If I were the owners, I’d rethink the strategy and have someone work on ambiance a bit. Keep it clean and simple and upscale (aka do NOT go the seedy bar route), but maybe warmer colors on the walls, better acoustics, better music, etc. Right now it screams “breakfast” to me, not “nightlife.”
    2) Advertise the happy hour! I bet lots more would come!
    3) Drinks are a little pricey…it’s one thing to pay $10-12 for a specialty martini, but other cocktails should be lower priced.
    4) Chocolate selection on the dessert menu at all times, please! Some of us ONLY eat chocolate desserts, so you’re missing out on our money 🙂
    5) It seems like lots of people are complaining about slow service. I admit, both times for us it was a little slow, but we didn’t care so much b/c we were at the bar drinking and relaxing anyway. Perhaps a good gesture is when the food takes longer, compliment a dessert or after dinner drink. Then people will leave on a happy note and not come here bashing!

  21. Finally had the chance to eat here tonight. Overall I thought the food was horrible. The bread was stale, the mussel appetizer was bland and actually left a bad taste in my mouth, the gnocchi was tasteless and the drinks were just ok. the only saving grace was the tres leche cake and even that wasnt really a true tres leche – but was still a decent dessert. Was very disappointed considering it is within walking distance of my house, was hoping to make it a regular stop.

  22. From what I have seen and experienced – I don’t think the original chef is there anymore (the guy in the picture up top) – that could explain a lot of these poor reviews.
    When my wife & I go out we like to go out to experience good food and food that leaves an impression and honestly food that we might not be able to cook ourselves.
    We also leave that “bar” food environment for well fridays or applebees because that is what we expect from it. From reading Bloomfield Mamas post – sounds like the fried goat cheese might be fresh..are the popper’s fresh too? (that would be a plus)
    My wife went to the website and showed me a picture of the french onion soup – how on earth do you eat that – what sense is it to have all that topping on it if you have to take it off? We haven’t been back since my last post, so it’s summer – how about some good gazpacho??
    We thought our town was finally going to have something different but it is just the same old run of the mill. Never going back.

  23. There are plenty of “bar” environments that are not Applebees or Fridays! And, sadly, besides Egan’s, Montclair doesn’t really have a nice bar. There are chains (Office, Charlie Browns) and dives (South Park, Tierney’s), but not any nice bar & grill type things. And, let’s face it – Montclair Station is basically serving bar-type food, but with the ambiance of a breakfast establishment. Montclair has PLENTY of really good dinner options (all BYOB)…they should take advantage of the fact that they have a liquor license and run with it.
    I think the food they do serve tastes good. Yes, the cheddar poppers are fresh…as was teh goat cheese and everything else we tried. I didnt’ like the BBQ Chicken pizza, but everyting else was YUM.

  24. Hey, Mama–I have to take exception with your calling South Park a dive bar (as someone who rather enjoys dives)–it’s just a crappy bar. 🙂
    The DLV is my favorite dive in Montclair. God bless them for holding off all the offers they must have gotten over the years for their liquor license.

  25. You’re right – South Park (now “V Lounge”) is just crappy, not a dive. Dives can actually be fun.
    I think I’ve traded Montclair Station for Bar-Cara. The drinks are actually cheaper at Bar-Cara and the ambiance is way, way better!

  26. Service was good as was the food but a bit too salty. Cheeseburger is overpriced at $12 but was tasty. When asked by the waiter if we wanted refills (coffee and a soda), said yes. Got sticker shock with the bill. We were charged $6.00 for one coffee plus one refill and $4.00 for one soda plus refill for child. Glad I didn’t order a refill for my beverage. Not unusual to be charged for second soda at a bar but COFFEE!!!
    We looked forward to visiting the new Station after the fire but are sad to say don’t think we will go back.

  27. I had a horrible experience here. Our waitress was rude and condescending. We waited 10 minutes for our menus, she got our orders wrong and brought everything out at different times (no ketchup for the kids’ fries???)
    I understand there are issues, but it was the attitude that we had a problem with.
    10 minutes after our doggie bag was given to us and our bill still hadn’t arrived, I walked into the restaurant (we were on the porch) and she said “you know you’re not my only customer!” then came out, threw the tab on our table and left.
    HERE’S THE KICKER!!! I paid by credit card, and put ZERO on the tip line and spelled it out, but when I got my credit card statement, my bill was over 10% higher than what I agreed to!!!
    This is immoral and illegal. I am incensed.

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