Montclair’s Pig And Prince Gets Nod From New York Times

Montclair’s Pig and Prince has only been open a few short months, but it’s already garnered a review from the New York Times. The review, which touches on some of the history behind the magnificently renovated Lackawanna Railroad terminal, enthuses about the “sensational space” designed by William Hull Botsford over 100 years ago complete with soaring vaulted ceiling and bronze chandeliers. In addition to the surroundings, Times reviewer Scott Veale praises the “intriguing” menu created by chef Michael Carrino and gives high marks to an expertly balanced butternut squash bisque, the duck confit risotto with figs and pistachios, as well as a seared Atlantic cod and a skate paired with potato rosti and Thai red curry sauce.

The problem with Pig and Prince, says Veale, comes down to service. He cites specific examples including long waits at the bar, bread first arriving after appetizers were finished and scattershot filling of water and wine glasses. The review ends on a sweet note with recognition of the masterful desserts created by Amanda Hartigan.

I’ve been to Pig and Prince four times since it opened and like Veale, found the space to be sensational and much of the food memorable. My few quibbles were with certain dishes — the heavy handed execution of duck fat fries with foie gras gravy and taleggio, resulting in half the portion rendered limp and sodden, or the confusingly-named pretzel bombs, that while tasty, don’t provide much of an explosion. Like Veale, seafood dishes stood out on all my visits, including seared Barnegat bay diver scallops served with forbidden black risotto, shallot fondue, sauce beurre rouge and beurre blanc and a mussel appetizer with smoked andouille sausage, saffron wine and coconut milk. Whimsical desserts, like the mini chocolate souffle paired with a vanilla latte shot to pour over it and a quenelle of toasted almond ice cream, shined.

Pig and Prince’s greatest challenge is one of its own making. Resurrecting this long-forgotten terminal to something spectacular raises every diners’ expectations the minute they walk through the warmly lit entrance and first glimpse the dramatic surroundings. Carrino, with his farm to table aesthetic, attention to detail (curing his own meats) and dedication to the community (evidenced by his preparing and donating 400 Thanksgiving meals to the Salvation Army), has set a high bar for himself with the magical space he and business partner Serge Hunkins created in this neglected corner of Montclair. Among the many charming details added to Pig and Prince is a light installation over a hallway that mimics the constellation of stars in the New Jersey night sky. I’m rooting for Carrino and company to reach past the 50 foot ceiling and toward those stars as they continue their journey with Pig and Prince.

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  1. Having been here twice, the NYT review is accurate. Service and slightly more focus on some menu items keep it from being in my top tier of area restaurants.

  2. Praise be this blessing from on high. Let us pray.

    Our Newspaper, which art on 8th Ave
    Hallowed by thine name
    Thy Kingdom come
    Thy will be done in print
    As it is (to a much lesser extent) on Twitter.
    Give us this day our daily read.
    And forgive us for having canceled daily delivery,
    As we forgive them that read only those articles that are free.
    And lead us not into unsubstantiated opinion,
    But deliver us from humor.
    For thine is the kingdom,
    The power, and the glory,
    For ever and ever,
    Or at least until the boomers lose their eyesight.

  3. Agree with +jratlee and the Times … food is good, service is terrible. When we went, server never mentioned any specials, and audibly sighed when asked to describe the difference between some cheeses on the cheese plate.

  4. funny — only went once and ate at the bar — slow service (as article mentioned) and total confusnion when we wanted to know what the cheese and meats were on our charcuterie plate

  5. I think I talked about this before on this site. When it first opened I went there multiple times from the train with high hopes and each time came away annoyed with the bartenders. The place empty around 5:15 and sitting at bar for like 5 minutes waiting for a drink while staff (bartenders and waitresses) at end of bar giggling and fooling around. Another time a bartender was figting with a waitress and was visibly ticked off and short with patrons as a result. I said something like ‘Pal dont take your battles out on customers’ he lightened up a bit apologized and proceeded to tell us who and why he was ticked. Like I care. Another time two bartenders the same night made the same drink differently and weren’t even similar. When we made light of it humorously each insisted they were right and rolled the eyes at their co-worker. Another time walking in and a few staff members outside front door smoking. I’m not even going to get into the keg change story. None of these really a huge issue but bundled together with the price your paying for drinks just made for an unprofessional atmosphere. In herbs bartending days any one of these incidents and we would have been pulled in the backroom by the owner or manager and absolutly torn into. That said, I had some snack food at the bar and it was excellent and admittedly I haven’t been back since late September so hopefully they made some adjustments. Nice space, parking doesn’t seem to be an issue. i just hope they get their stuff together.

  6. It would be nice if the owners of the Lackawanna complex put in half as much effort into the rest of the space as Corrino did to the restaurant part of it.

  7. Sounds like a simple problem: Chef/owner is watching the back of the house and no one who the chef/owner trusts is watching the front. This happens too many times. Hopefully Mr. Carrino is listening to the feedback from The Times, his good customers, and — of course — the ever watchful eyes (and always open mouths)of Baristanet!

    But what I really want to know is what ‘Roo had just before he composed his little ode… that was straight out of Opus Magnum Martinus!

  8. Yep. Service is the main issue for me there. Also a TV that could be viewed while sitting at the bar would be nice. They’re in the tap room, but you can’t see it from the bar. You have to sit at a high top.

  9. I’ve been to this restaurant several times for both drunks and dinner; each experience has been worse than the previous.

    First time there for dinner, I ordered a rib eye steak, medium. It was served absolutely rare, practically raw. No big prob as I told the waiter to take it back and cook to desired “doneness.” Naturally, my wife’s order was also taken back. FORTY minutes later what was returned to our table was a well done steak; my wife’s risotto was ice cold. As the waiter did not think this was a problem and couldn’t be bothered with resolving a seemingly easy problem, I cancelled the entire order and walked out.

    Second time just for drinks. We were served by inattentive and disinterested bartenders; especially Sarah, who needs a major attitude adjustment.

    Third time back for dinner. I ordered a simple $19 hamburger, medium; my wife, seared cod. What was served was a well done hamburger. My wife, who normally does not make a fuss, said her cod was just so-so. When we voiced our displeasure, we were told that we would not be charged for dessert. When the bill arrived, you guessed it, we were charged.

    Never again!

  10. Went there to eat a few weeks ago. Enjoyed the food but the service was slow ..perhaps due to the hurricane aftermath ?

    Anyway, I wish the P&P success.

  11. What a delightful dining experience, silverleaf!

    I give you credit for giving them a second and a third chance, quite frankly.

    Perhaps if you go back yet again, you’ll get all of the above shabby treatment and have your soup spilled on your jacket as well.

    I’m still stunned by the $19 hamburger!

  12. Still reeling after seeing that $19 hamburger, I went to the site in order to check out the menu.

    Its pricey, yo!

    But I see that both duck and rabbit are on the menu, and I know that procuring these items can be difficult, what with Obama’s pesky regulations and all.

    Here’s a glimpse of what these people have to go through in order to bring these tasty craturs to your plate:

  13. Cwo: you want duck, you want wabbit? Cowwado’s has both. Of course you have to cook them… or maybe Elmer will help!

  14. croiagusanam – I’m a born and raised Montclarian; I like to give all local businesses the benefit of the doubt. Considering they were newly opened at the time, the food issue I probably could have lived with, but not the poor and shoddy service; not for $19 hamburger. I can go to Tierney’s and have the best burger in town and shown equally inattentive and disinterested service by Dougy for $7.00!

    I am typically a 25% tipper, but as I said, the bar staff was inattentive and disinterested. Similarly, I was disinterested in leaving any tip at all, so I didn’t !

    As for a return trip, there will be none, I assure you.

  15. Absloutely, silverleaf! You can get plenty of attitude and discourtesy for half the price at countless establishments in the metro area.

    When I score the big Powerball win tomorrow, I will treat you and Spiro and (almost) everyone else on the site to a $19 hamburger. I’ll happily hand deliver Conan’s while I’m on the coast looking for property.

  16. cro – Best of luck in tomorrow’s drawing. It would be my pleasure to eat a $19 hamburger with you, Spiro and Conan!

  17. This place is beautiful inside, the bar is fantastic and I am really, really rooting for them, but…

    Why oh why can’t we get a bar/restaurant in town that isn’t shooting for the culinary moon?

    There are three liquor licenses currently open: South Park, Richie Cecere’s and the long dormant Red Cheetah/Grabowski debacle/eyesore. Is there no market in town for a place like the Cloverleaf in Caldwell or even the Verona Inn to snap up one of these licenses and set up shop? Ever been to the Allendale Bar and Grill? Hell, even the front room at Maxwell’s? Great bars with reasonable food where you don’t need a reservation and a trust fund to eat dinner.

    While I hope that $19 hamburgers are $19 worth of delicious, it is hard to swallow.

  18. note to relax people – a reminder that Dai Kichi / Upstairs has a liquor license too. I hear it’s a happening place long after I go to sleep…..

  19. Silverleaf, we can always get together with cro and Conan in my backyard, where a tray full of burgers are a few bucks worth of freshly ground high quality beef roasted over a bag of hot charcoal at all times, all year, and you’d be our guests. cathar is invited too, just to let us know what we’re doing wrong, and to scrape the grill after dessert.

  20. My wife was there on a business dinner and was told by the server that it was her fault that the table had not received a fill up on their drinks. That she and the diners were too busy to warrant their attention. I had never heard of such a thing. Not to mention that the prices are way out of whack for a place that presumably could profit on the drinks. And how can you really mess up poutine???

  21. A place like the Cloverleaf, or Fitzgerald’s, would be great. But with the reported $900,000 paid for the liquor license at P&P, a nice place with $9 burgers and 15 craft beers on tap for $6 each is pretty unlikely. And, that’s before considering the substantial investment in the lovely space.

  22. Beautiful interior amazing architectural design.
    Dessert (given free) due to service was good/great.

    The above ends the highlights.
    Dinner entree was okay but not worth the price. Service and time require was horrible and tempted multiple times to walk out but couldn’t figure out why so slow as it was before 6:30 pm and mostly empty. The restaurant recently opened during my visit and I thought it was rookie mistakes but reading other feedback indicates it is just the mediocre service.

  23. I said it the last time I walked out there annoyed. How long before word gets out and people get tired of giving them a chance and then they pull the tables out put the disco ball, crank the music and go for the late night scene. It certainly has enough room for it and can probably get them to that 900K + mark a lot quicker. (Although not sure of liscense restrictions).

  24. The only thing I’d probably ever treat you to, Spiro, is an auto da fe.

    But the Bistro in Red Bank has a $15 burger, made with Kobe beef (so they claim), and I almost think it’s worth it.

    If “no one” likes this place (or so it seems above), then it’ll close. But maybe, just maybe, Baristanet and its posters aren’t near as influential as they sometimes seem to imagine.

  25. I guess i don’t get out much. Haven’t had a chance to go to the Pig in a Poke, or whatever the hell this place is called, but when I do I look forward to seeing the lowlifes at the bar, eating their 19 dollar burgers.

  26. Would that, cathar, be the same auto-de-fe I referenced 5 posts above yours?

    I mean, we’re used to you being boring, pedantic, addled and fact-challenged, but can you at least TRY to be original?

  27. Folks, using Kobe beef in a burger may impress those people who think the Food Channel is the mother lode of culinary knowledge in America, but it is a little like grinding up filet mignon for chile. Unnecessary. And dumb. What everyone has really been fantasizing about in this thread is a good old-fashioned NYC nabe bar’s “Puck and a Brew” — and we are not talking Pat LaFreda and his Wonder Meat, whatever the hell that is. Just fresh 80-20 ground round cooked medium rare AT THE MOST on a plancha and cupped for the final minute or so, with pre-sliced block American or Cheddar on top, lettuce, tomato, and pickles on the side (you want ’em on top, go for it), maybe fries (not needed, but this is America, hey), and an ice-cold beer/ale of your choice, preferably served in a clean glass. $12 tops for the burger. NYC has high rents, too.

    And when you all get out here to SoCal, may I suggest our local brew pub, Hollister Brew Company, which does a 1/2-lb. version of the above with Niman Ranch beef and Tilamook Cheddah for $12-ish. Duck-fat fries are $5 on the side. I’ll spring for the first growler of ale.

  28. @Cathar – While no one wishes a business shut down eliminating jobs, tax revenue and create another empty storefront.

    Many new establishments have initial hype (reviews, word of mouth, just something new and different) but that is short lived as the quality and sustainability to have repeat customers keeps you open. If the two take-aways from posting – high price entrees and sub-par service – it is doubtful in Montclair the foot-traffic will not decrease (come January).

    Let us keep in mind the same buildings holds a Popeye’s, Radio Shack & Pathmark – it is doubtful outside of the folks reading the Times, or read it online – will a random walkerby stop in and buy a $19 burger and $15 glass of wine.

    It is comical multiple people mention free dessert to compensate for poor service but dessert doesn’t recover hours of your day/time.

  29. Amen, Conan.

    I’ve not had a better burger than the one offered at The Corner Bistro in good old Greenwich Village (cash only, thanks).

    you’ll get surliness there too as well, but at a considerably lower price.

  30. Good choice, Cro: the Corner regularly wins best burger in NYC. I remember back in the day when New York Magazine (which had only recently seceded from the World Journal Tribune) would post their “Best of New York” listings and the winners would engage in a second competition to see who could most quickly raise their prices. NY Mag’s HQ was in Murray Hill and you could follow the staff to lunch, which is how I discovered Richie Brew’s on 34th, the Establishment on 38th, and the Guardsman on Madison. Burger Madness. Now that I am so health-conscious, I no longer spread double-dollops of mayo on my bacon-cheese burgers, so I can not only enjoy the burger, but feel self-righteous at the same time. It don’t get better than that.

  31. There is a reason why Tierney’s has been the best bar and center of the social universe in town for over 75 years; it pretends to be nothing more than what it exactly is, serving great inexpensive burgers, ice cold beer on tap, with a great jukebox, central location, and free parking on premises. In UM, Charlie. Browns gave it a run for a while when Ralph Nicastro, RIP, John, and Danny worked behind the bar. At the South End of town, Giblins, later known as The (Torn) Hat, also had its day. There was also Strand’s (now Trumpets), The Suburban (now The Office), Willow Cafe (Elevation Burger), J.B. Winberie (South Park/V Bar), and Burns Country Inn (now Alexis Steakhouse), though technically in Clifton, where we’d all go after hours when CB’sclosed, H.O. Gauge’s (Lackawanna Plaza), and Finnamores in A&P parking lot. Not to forget Gabe’s Galley, located within The Wedgewood Cafe on S. Park (now Urban Outfitters.)

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