Michael Carrino Opening Restaurant in Lackawanna Plaza

At long last, a new restaurant has been announced for Montclair’s Lackawanna Station, and the chef behind the venture is Michael Carrino. The restaurant will have a liquor license.

Carrino is the chef of the restaurant formerly known as Restaurant Passionné, which he vacated last year to find a bigger spot and a place with a liquor license, and was taken over by the molecular gastronomy spot Adara.

The address of the new restaurant will be 1 Lackawanna Plaza, Montclair.

The restaurant’s name has not been announced, but will feature “creative, non-pretentious Modern American Cuisine with a devotion to seasonal, local ingredients.”

Carrino, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, was also declared the winner of his episode of Food Network’s cooking competition “Chopped.”

The liquor license was acquired for a reported $725,000 from the former Charlie Brown’s in Upper Montclair.

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  1. Good luck, Michael — your food at Passione was excellent, and now with the liquor license you can make some serious bucks! Hire Holly to be your cocktail consultant and we will fill your bar every night.

  2. As excited as I am to finally see something positive going on with Lackawanna Plaza other than blown-out lights and windward shopping cards,an upscale restaurant with a liquor license is a bit non-sequitor to the Lackawanna aesthetic.

  3. redrum, its a huge step in the right direction though. The first instance of new development or renovation in an otherwise tired area is always a non-sequitor.

  4. There’s demolition going on at the north end of the space–I guess that’s where the restaurant will be.

    I agree it looks like a stretch, but remember when Whole Foods opened in West Orange by the Kmart and everyone said it wouldn’t work? For that matter, Walnut St. used to be a bit dicey and it has come up in the world (but also slumped a little lately).

    This end of Lackawanna Plaza is near Fascino and The Loft…it could work!

  5. It’s a great idea, of course and definitely a step in the right direction. I wish this venture the best success. Hopefully they will renovate the rest of the complex to bring it up to par. It’s like a timewarp to the 80s in there.

  6. This is excellent news! That whole block is coming to life. Yoga studios, the kid’s YMCA, Phil Cantor, and of course, Bobbi Brown’s studio.

    Great, great news!

  7. This is the best news! My husband and I have greatly missed Chef Mike and Passionne over the last several months and couldn’t be happier! We wish him all the successes in the world. For such a young chef to be able to do something of this magnitude is truly astounding. My husband heard through the grapevine, the owners of the station have a 3year gentrification of this entire plaza with a new grocery store snd making it in “indoor” and higher end Church St. We are so excited for Chef Mike to be leading the charge…

  8. I’ve been planning an indoor church st in my mind for years. I can’t remember when the last time I was in that restaurant space. Was it Pizza Hut? Probably. For those who have not been inside, it is an incredible space unlike the rest of Lackawanna Plaza.

    I think it will take more than 3 years for gentrification though. New St and Mission st would have to burn to the ground before crime can be addressed in the 4th ward. Is this part of the 4th ward? I don’t know what im talking about

  9. I really, really hope they make an effort to put a quality wine list together. That is something this area desperately needs!

    Think the quality of the selection at Amanti Vino but available on a wine list and by the glass. THAT would be exciting.

  10. A good idea is to renovate the whole structure making it only semi enclosed, I’m thinking open up the west side of the structure and get rid of the laundromat. Also maybe open up the top and install more traditional external facades on the inside. That place is such a beast though, would be super expensive. One step at a time, a nice restaurant is a good step.

  11. The laundromat can go. However making it too open to the air can be a hindrance. I’m thinking snow, cold, rain, etc might be bad for business. That being said, the entire mall is in desperate need of a better lighting scheme and the grove street entrance could use some TLC.


    In this crazy restaurant destination town, Chef Michael is the real deal. 6 years of success on Walnut experimenting at Passione seems to have given him wings! His recent community support on local charity projects include Van Vleck House, St. Josephs Childrens Hospital. Carrino’s collaboration with the coolest local experts in the libation departments like beer guru Peter Kennedy and the guys at Brooklyn Brewery and helping crush the grapes at Arizona Stronghold Wineries keep it real. DUDE!! James Beard Awards.

    If you didn’t get to see his #1 spot on Food Networks “Chopped” check this out- https://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/chopped-gummy-bear-wontons-video/41348.html. Hold on Montclair we’re going for a spin!

    Can I get you a latte Chef Carrino?

  13. Before they open the restaurant they’ll have to deal with the greasy fried chicken smell emanating from Pathmark.

  14. HUZZAH! This is FANTASTIC news! I have been jonesing for Carrino’s cooking for too long now. He once prepared a braised short rib dish that sent me into raptures. That his palate, expertise and aesthetic will be at the helm & not that of a dreary franchise/chain fills my heart with hope for the neighborhood specifically and the town as a whole. HUZZAH MICHAEL!

  15. The fried food smell is oddly enough not coming from Pathmark… I believe its a combination of Popeyes and Crocket’ Fish Fry on Bloomfield. Someone needs to install carbon filters on their kitchen exhaust.

  16. This seems like quite a departure from Passione? Isn’t this space like quadruple the size? The fear is always that in order to pay for the high cost of a liquor license (in this case $725,000) you have to focus much more on the bar crowd than the dinner crowd. That being said, wish him luck. Any news on when he plans to open?

  17. I’m w/ you communitygourmet. I just love how in-tune Carrino is to the local assets of our farmers, brewers, meat vendors, etc. So many of our local chefs say they use all local, but their meats come from out of state and they can’t even name the farms. Carrino told me in one of my dining visits that the cow I was eating, he actually birthed and the farmer named it after him. He sees his livestock from birth to slaughter, that’s dedication. He knows what it’s fed, how it’s raised, what the pasture looks like that it grazes in…Carrino’s obvious passion for his craft and those that make his craft possible (ie the farmers) is truly what makes each and every dish devine, in my opinion. I mean come on how many other Montclair chefs have their own little plot up at Matarazzo’s farm where he grows stuff. My husband saw him there w/ his family early last spring planting. I also saw on his twitter he’s learning to cure meats from local master, Lou P. Hand over fist, I’d spend every dining out experience w/ Carrino v many other spots in the local area.

  18. Holly! We need to invent a cocktail called “The Phoebe Snow” which was the name of the premier train on the old Delaware, Lackawanna and Western line. I am thinking along the lines of a Gin Stinger with some crushed ice on top.

  19. I’m not sure how many of the above commenters live in the 4th ward, but as a resident, and a frequent patron of both Pathmark and the laundomat, I have to say that it seems like the people calling for a ‘gentrification’ of the area don’t fully understand the importance of these services to local residents. The laundromat is there because (and this might shock some commenters) not everyone has laundry facilities in their homes or apartments. Without Pathmark, the nearest supermarket is nearly a mile away, uphill. I’d second the commenter in the other thread on Lackawana Plaza who said that the empty storefronts farther up Bloomfield Ave are a more pressing issue than ‘gentrifying’ LP, and that those advocating a bougier LP think about the actual, vital services that those shops provide for the people who live nearby.

    Finally, calling for “New St and Mission st … to burn to the ground before crime can be addressed in the 4th ward” is an incredibly troubling statement.

  20. Point taken, maxmax. I drove past the plaza today and noticed the parking lot was nearly filled. I also noticed a Dunkin Donuts, H&R Block, Radio Shack and a Payless Shoe Source–not exactly dicey stores. Some people write about this area like it’s the third world that is populated by second class citizens who only eat fried chicken.

  21. I lived in the 4th ward for 2 years, right by Pine St about 2 blocks from Pathmark. Caggiano Liquors serves a purpose too, but I think it should be burned down. I could just as easily walked to Grove Liquors than I could to Caggiano. Im not saying that Pathmark should close, but I think like any grocery store, it should be clean. Remember Grand Union where the Bottle King is now? That place was disgusting and it closed down. People didn’t starve in the area.
    New St and Mission St are horrible streets to live on. I like Popeyes, and who hasn’t walked into a Radio Shack looking for an obscure electronic adapter? LP serves a purpose, but it needs to be redone. I remember when the floors were put in and the place looked nice (for the 1980s).

  22. Conan….Took the Phoebe Snow several times back in the ’50’s &’60’s with my father from Hoboken to upstate NY. Board in the eve, head for the dining car then club car then to our Pullman berth, I’d get the top bunk and would look at my comic books finally falling asleep to the clicking of the rails. A great way to travel!
    A few years later we switched to flying on Mohawk airlines, twin engine props….What a let down! One endless roller coaster ride with the barf bag on my lap the whole trip and clogged ears for a day or two.
    Bring back the Phoebe Snow.

  23. There’s something, well, extremely unseemly about, on a site where so many fret literately (understandably, I agree) about high property taxes and municipal budgets, of so many also slavering at the arrival of an expensive new restaurant.

    And it will be expensive, you betcha. Someone has to help Carrino make the monthly rent payments for such a large soace and pay off his loan for the liquor license.

    Someone also referenced Amanti Vino, which surely rates as a “friend” to the Baristas, above. On the things it carries in common with Shoppers’ Vineyard (beers included), Amanti Vino’s prices are generally quite a bit steeper as far as I can tell. A reataurant wine list based on that store’s wares would thus be prohibitively expensive for many. (Anyway should be for anyone who carps about high property taxes, as well as for residents of the surrounding neighborhood.) There’s a reason BYO restaurants make excellent economic sense.

    Lastly, I’d have to check with railroad buffs I know, but my impression is that the old Montclair station in fact has nothing to do with what was known as the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western line. Rather, as best I recall, Montclair was a long-time stop on the Erie line, which was not the line of clean-burning anthracite and thus of Phoebe Snow.

  24. Well, my boyfriend, who is a real train buff, said that the Lackawanna station was indeed a stop on the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western líne. The Walnut Street Station, however, was a stop on the Erie líne.

  25. Well, remember until NJT joined them in 2001/2002, there was a separate DLW branch which terminated in Montclair originally in the ornate terminal which was about 4-5 blocks west of the current Bay St. Station, and then the interium Bay St. Terminal in the 80s & 90s, and there was the Erie Boonton line through Montclair a little bit north of that. The DLW reached Montclair inthe 1800’s and had a terminal which inlcuded a roundhouse and turntable. In 1930 the “new” station was built with the advent of electrification; it was a stub end terminal. The EL eventually dismantled that station and moved the terminal about a quarter mile east (railroad direction). NJT developed Bay St. as we know it with the idea of connecting to the Greenwood Lake Div. here is a great picture of LP https://rides.webshots.com/photo/2382486900087960215BwSzjR

  26. Phoebe Snow never had anything to do with Lackawanna TERMINAL. It was the end of the line. It might have rolled though the Boonton line or the Morris branch, I’ll let the real train buffs chime in on that one.

  27. Again, calling for parts of Montclair (and your ward, Jimmy) to be burnt to the ground because you’ve decided they’re ‘horrible streets to live on’ is messed up. That’s some pretty violent language. As a frequent shopper at Pathmark, I don’t agree with your assessment that it’s ‘dirty’ or (in comparison with Grand Union) ‘disgusting.’ I would rather have a good, affordable supermarket than a place with new floors. A few logical fallacies:

    Liquour stores /= supermarkets. I’m glad you’re able to walk to Grove liquors, but buying booze isn’t necessary for the sustenance of life. Food is. Additionally, a lot of people aren’t able to walk to Whole Foods (to continue the ‘just walk somewhere else’ analogy) don’t have cars, or don’t have the time to trek all the way up Bloomfield Ave. for overpriced groceries.

    No, people in the 4th ward aren’t starving, but we do currently have a supermarket. As Tudlow said the parking lot is pretty packed a lot of the time, and people are clearly using the shopping center.

  28. Maxmax,
    I agree with you.

    The current state of that Pathmark has been a problem for me and so they have lost my business. I would love to see a grocery store with better management in that space. However I am lucky enough to own a car and have choices.

    I have many relatives that are older and particularly the women, never learned to drive or their deteriorating eyesight keeps them from driving so they rely on car service to do their shopping.

    The shopping center serves a purpose. I’m not saying it could not be better but saying that something “should go” because it does not serve a purpose for you is a bit much.

  29. Jimmytown does make a few good points, though. Caggiano’s liquor store is malignant to the neighborhood. MPD is there just about every night. I think if you eliminated that place it would be a big catalyst to turn the rest of the area around. As far as New and Mission streets go, I don’t think the neighborhood will ever reach its full potential with those blocks in their current state.

  30. The ornate Lackawanna station was indeed the terminal for the Lackawanna Railroad’s Montclair branch. I believe its designer perished in the Titanic sinking.

    The area north of Bloomfield Avenue, roughly south of Glen Ridge Ave, between Greenwood and Pine was once a busy railroad yard. Several coal and oil dealers, a lumber yard, milk plant, train cleaning area, and a large freight and express station provided dozens of jobs. That area is now homes, the parking lot for the TD Bank and Pathmark, the fire house, a power station, and a corner of the parking tower.

  31. When the Montclair Train line opened, there was a public relation’s woman/hostess called Phoebie Snow who worked to encourage commuters to use the train. Apparently, she was all dressed in white lace and tulle and her mission was to convince the fancy Montclair commuters that they wouldn’t arrive to their destinations all covered in soot and cole. I am looking for the paragraph about her that I’ve read in a local history book because there is a pretty lame story about how something went amiss and she wasn’t so white as snow anymore…if I find it, i’ll post the mention of her. I think its from the 1880s….

  32. Maxmax I dont live in the 4th ward anymore. I did live there for 2 years and it was a convenient place to live. New floors and clean walls do not increase the cost of food. In fact, if more people trusted the cleanliness of the store there would be more shoppers and less spoilage, keeping costs down. Compare this store to Shop Rite in Brookdale. I didn’t ask for a whole foods to replace it, I would just like to see improvements to the area.

    Maybe burning a whole neighborhood down is harsh. Certain streets and street corners in Montclair are bad news and that’s a fact. Its the broken window theory. If we clean up LP people will treat it nice. If we let it go unkempt people will treat it poorly.

  33. Calling a liquor store “malignant?” No one else thinks that’s a bit much? It smacks of Carrie Nation and the “drys.” And alcohol abuse is alcohol abuse whether the culprit is MD 20/20 or something pricier from Amanti Vino.

    “Phoebe Snow” was supposed to be a young girl. I forget the rhyme but it used the word “anthracite.” And an image of her was often on freight cars. That much I remember very clearly.

  34. This is such great news, I am so happy to see cool things happening down here in our neck of the woods. Many of us small businesses are always excited to see new businesses open up!

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