Kitchen Nightmares Coming to Leone’s, Montclair

Back when New York Magazine wrote its infamous Montclair article (remember when we were a Top 10 Affordable Suburb, folks?), the restaurant named as the local favorite was Leone’s. Now Gordon Ramsay will come and tear the place apart, as is his habit on Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares. Ramsay and crew will be filming at the South Park eatery next week, starting Tuesday. The match-up of Leone’s formidable owner, Rose Leone, and Ramsay should make for good TV, no? Are you surprised (you might recall it was “for sale” some time ago)? Will he change the interior? Do you think Ramsay will find his worst nightmare at Leone’s, or might the family-run eatery be looking for a boost while waiting for the stalled South Park redevelopment plan?

Want to dine at Leone’s during filming? Update: Surveys/reservations are now full.

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  1. Personally, I never liked Leone’s. In fact, I haven’t eaten there for at least 7 years.

    As for best Italian in Montclair, my picks would be Osteria Giotto and Fascino.

  2. Leone’s is hit or miss.

    I do remember when it was great- good food, fun atmosphere, service, etc. Sadly, in the last few times I’ve been, mrs. prof and I seem mostly to reminisce about past experiences.

    Love Ramsey, but I mostly look forward to his entrance through Montclair:

    I bet he walks up Church St. talks about how “quaint” the town is, we’ll see a bit of the Sienna/Starbucks, he’ll comment on it being “upscale.” They he’ll turn on South Park (will there be construction?) and he’ll say- “nice neighborhood” (what he means is: who can’t have a successful restaurant here?)

    Then he’ll enter and all hell will break loose.

    I can’t wait!!!

  3. the inside needs serious updating, the food is not good but they make the best brick oven pizza, no comparison to others around here. it’s our go to place for pizza. just hoping the show doesn’t mess with a good thing.

  4. profwilliams has got it exactly right, in my estimation.

    Is it possible to have five favorite Italian restaurants in Montclair? Not that we dont have plenty, but are there five worthy of enthusiasm?

    I know everyone loves Giotto, but I thought it was extremely overrated. Decent, but not worth dealing with the “Soup Nazi”-esque staff. Facino was great, part of the reason we moved to Montclair was certainly a result of happy and special meals there, but for a while now it seems like Ryan and staff have kind of moved on, at least mentally.

    Which leaves a host of tired and/or mediocre Italian restaurants: Ms. Leone’s establishment, Rustica, Palazzo, Gencarelli’s and now Tosca. All places that I WANT to like, but with an exception here and there more like Sbarro’s with table service, at least as far as the food is concerned.

    All that being said, I hope that Mr. Ramsey stops at his own restaurant in NYC on his way to Montclair. Ate there last week and it needs help!

  5. Ah’Pizz (?) has good pizza. I never had an entree there but I’m betting it’s better than Leone’s. Ate once at Salute and it was pretty good. What about Marzullo’s?

  6. I have lived in Montclair for 18 years and Leone’s has been a staple in town for as long as I remember. There is something good to be said about a family ran business that has been around for that long. The inside def needs a face lift, but the food and people have always been great to me and my family. I’m glad to see that Montclair will be featured on national TV and I’m happy for the opportunity given to Leone’s.

  7. This will be fun! i have eaten at Leone’s several times and have not ever really left satisfied. I have heard that they used to be better. Having only moved into the area 2 years ago, I can’t say that they are that good now, maybe in the past. Around the block, down Church Street is a fairly new restaurant, Tosca, I have been there 4 or 5 times and enjoyed the pizza as well as the food. They are still new and have been through some changes, but overall it’s enjoyable and in a prime spot. There is another restaurant around the corner on Fullerton that used to be decent as well, just have not been there recently.
    Looking forward to Ramsey in Montclair.

  8. Leone’s is always more expensive than it expect it to be, and Rose scares the bejeezus out of me.

    Giotto is overrated and overpriced food-wise but it’s a nice place to sit, especially when they open it up on those long summer evenings.

    Fascino is the best, but pricey.

    All in all, you can’t beat Nauna’s.

  9. I used to love Leone’s. Haven’t been there in maybe two years, and it sounds like they may have gone downhill. Too bad.

  10. Ah’Pizz?? Way to expensive for what you get.

    Tosca is beautiful, been there twice- not much to write about. But what a place and location. Same with Fascino. Gencarelli’s used to be a fave, but the last few times…

    But really, restaurants and whether you like one or not has so much has to do with things other than the food- who you’re with, your mood, the weather.

    So give me mrs. prof and little prof and I can be happy just about anywhere because we have a simple rule when we go out: WE are going to have a good time. So regardless of the meal, service, whatever- we’re gonna laugh and talk and enjoy ourselves.

    It’s worked so far.

  11. Well, prof, Ah’Pizz may be a tad on the pricey side, we paid $28 for two 12″ pizzas, but we were pleased with the food made with fresh ingredients. It provided a nice dinner and two lunches. Even living in my tiny hut in Lower Montclair, it didn’t blow my budget. And we had fun.

  12. I’ve never had a bad meal at Leone’s. There is not one negative thing that can be said about the food or service there. The menu is packed with variety, the food is prepared right, and it’s always delicious. Since it’s inception, I’ve experienced nothing but tasty food and warm, friendly service. As a result, I now have priceless, happy memories to take with me every day. I’ve always been treated like family there.

  13. I have been to Leone’s Restaurant many times. I have always found the food excellent, the portions large and the service friendly and efficient. It will be interesting to hear and/or see the corrections that Chef Ramsay will make.

  14. I love that show, glad, in a way to see it local. I don’t want to be there for the inevitable bad food/service issues that always pop up, not to mention some swearing from the kitchen. The question I always wondered about though (and doesn’t happen in every show, so who knows here), is if there is this much pre-production, and he only comes at the request of an owner… the hell come some places have dirty kitchens and rancid/frozen/cooked 3 days ago food still laying around? And if it’s a place you go to and he finds that, will trust it won’t return to the sloppy ways in 6 months? I sometimes would rather not know, what doesn’t kill you makes you sick, which is what makes you stronger. Can’t wait for the show to air and the feedback here.

  15. Leone’s used to be better. Rarely dine there now. Last few times I felt the sadness of a restaurant on the way to slow death. The surroundings need a redoing but they echo the general mood of the serving staff which I find quite annoying at times.

    Pasta is still okay, pizza good but the salad lately is a wilty mess.

    Hope the Ramsay appearance will give the place a needed boost.

  16. Mr. Beale,

    While I cannot remember exactly how much I paid, I DO remember feeling it was WAY out of proportion to the size/quality of the meal.

    To that, I haven’t been back, and haven’t even thought of going- it has simply disappeared from our list of “how abouts…”? (As in: “‘How abouts’ Leone’s, I hear it’s great since Chef Ramsey helped them.”)

    And understand, I used to drive to Lodi to get some delicious Lodi Pizza, so I can be as snobbish as the next guy. Sadly, Ah’Pizz is a wee bit too high on itself for me.

  17. I went to Leone’s once many, many years ago and was very underimpressed with the service (surly) and food (so-so.) With the large number of Italian restaurants in town, I have always been amazed that it is still around. Though not a fan of Ramsey, I will probably watch this episode for the local factor and see what goes on in Leone’s kitchen. Don’t think it will be enough to get me back there, but one never knows.

  18. We had one of the most disappointing, and at times, disgusting meal experiences at Leone’s. The pasta was bland and salty at the same time. We asked for olive oil and were given vegetable oil in a cruet. The server said it was their “house special mix”, and then admitted that it was olive oil and generic veg. oil mixed. Seriously? At an Italian restaurant? We were seated next to the server station, with dirty glasses and overflowing garbage cans next to plated food. The bathrooms were atrocious. No hand soap, no paper towels, no toilet paper, roaches, filthy wet floor, overflowing garbage can (again…). Good luck, Gordon.

  19. If you want a really good pizza and you don’t mind driving 200 miles for it, Mike and Tony’s Pizza in Colrain in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts near the Vermont Border is just the place. Take back roads up to North Adams, MA, cruise East across the Mohawk Trail to Shelburne Falls, and bang a left on 112 North. The Green Emporium is in a recycled church in the center of town. Mike is a NYC artist (imagine an intaglio of the Chrysler building spire illuminated by lava lamps) and Tony makes abbetz Brooklyn style. This is the least-likely place in America to find good pizza — but you will! And don’t forget to try the locally made Steel Rail Pale Ale. Awesome!

  20. Went to Compania in Fair Lawn after Ramsay turned that restaurant around.
    The food was great, especially the family meatball recipe Ramsay made them resurrect. Sorry that the owner later committed suicide….What a shame….RIP

  21. I love Gordon, Love KN and Love Leone’s I have never had a bad meal there either. Just drove by to see, it’s all blocked off, you cannot see inside….. Wonder what he will do to do.. I usually see Rose sitting there so perhaps Gordon can light a fire under her and get her to move more and work a bit… but I cannot wait to see. I would loved to eat there during filming SO COOL!

    My boyfriend and I went this past Winter, Friday night, 6:45 ( expecting a wait) and we got right in, there were about 3 other tables, but food was great. Was his first time and he loved it.

  22. I was there last night, it was nuts! The waitstaff looked exhausted and scared, they told us Gordon was kicking ass back in the kitchen. Then Gordon went out front with the owner’s son and the kitchen staff and chewed them out, and afterwards the son announced that Gordon had declared the food subpar and ordered the restaurant shut down immediately. We were some of the last people reamining in the restaurant – Gordon came out and spoke to us at our table, he told us that if we had seen what he had seen back in the kitchen, we would not still be eating our pizza. He then called all staff into the corner for his “talk” – as we walked out we heard him telling everyone what an embarassment dinner service was. I look forward to seeing the improvements that are made after re-launch, hopefully Gordon can help them turn the place around. It was a fun and interesting evening! I hear the episode will air sometime in September…

  23. Can’t wait to see the results. It will be funny watching him rip Mama Rose to shreds. I also look forward to an improved dining experience, because the food really is quite good. Basic, but good.

    Prof, I like your approach! Start with good company and a good attitude and the rest will follow, or not, but you can still have a good time.

  24. We have The Food Channel. We have The Cooking Channel. We have The Recipe Channel. We have any number of PBS stations that feature cooking-oriented shows all weekend long. We have Reality TV (an oxymoron if ever I have heard one) shows with all sorts of perilous situations from which the wannabe Iron Chefs must extricate themselves and — if possible — screw their opponents. We have a daily, morning talk show hosted by a woman who in many professionals’ opinions should not be let anywhere near a kitchen that serves food to people, and she gets the A-List guests week in and week out. We have elevated the Celebrity Chefs to a status beyond rock stars in many cases. But, folks, it is only food. In almost every country in the world, countless cooks with no TV pedigrees take simple, fresh ingredients and manipulate them into healthy, tasty meals. This even happens in America, I have been told, done by people I have never seen on the Food Channel (unless they were in the audience). What is it about our media-driven culture that requires a misanthropic, vulgar, knife-throwing shoemaker like Gordon Ramsay to come into an otherwise working kitchen and declare it a cesspool manned by cretins? Why aren’t the customers the ones telling the owners and staff that they need to change if they want to stay in business? At the risk of sounding like RoC, let the market decide. I don’t know about you, but my idea of “Room 101” would include being forced to watch the Neely’s or Paula Deen for hours on end. The Prof has the right idea: go out, have fun, don’t let the small stuff get you riled up — there are many places out there that serve decent food at a reasonable price, and — the best part — you don’t have to clean up afterwards.

  25. I’ve never been to Leone’s, so I have no opinion either way about the food. But perhaps someone who’s actually been there during Ramsay’s taping can clear this up for me: if the food is such an abomination as Ramsay is apparently claiming, did they bother to then actually charge the “lucky” diners who were there when he was?

    There was an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” set at a place in Carlstadt, where elves and pixies apparently repainted and redecorated and even refurnished the place in just one night. I didn’t believe one word of the entire episode. I will also note that Ramsay himself seems to have been closing restaurants in which he has a real financial interest over the last year at a decent clip. I can only thus guess that the “shoemaker” should be sticking more to his own lasts.

  26. Cathar, that was the Grasshopper Also, now independent from the other Grasshoppers which were owned by the couple’s father. As far as the taping, since everyone is pre screened I think that the show pays for their meals. If Ramsay himself is closing restaurants that he owns its because (maybe) he wants has over extended himself. He is a very busy man, and most restaurantuers spend at least one night a month at their various locations. He owns restaurants in two countries, has 3 shows in America which are spin-offs from the same shows he hosts in the UK, including Kitchen Nightmares. I bet he can go into ANY restaurant in ANY town/city that has seen a drop in customers and find something wrong with the kitchen. “If you like what you eat, dont look in the kitchen.”

  27. Virtually every episode of Kitchen Nightmares features Gordon Ramsey going into the kitchen cabinets or walk in fridge and finding all sorts of putrification. Given how many times that has been a part of the show I wonder why anyone would want to go to a restaurant in which he’s filming.

  28. They dont pay for meals? Ramsay will shut down service and throw away the food but still charge you to eat that poison? Damn

  29. As I posted earlier, I dined there on Wednesday 7/6 during filming – we did not have to pay for anything. The paperwork we signed stated that we would have to pay for our meals…but since Chef Ramsay closed the restaurant down, we were not required to pay.

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