Rutherford’s Cafe Matisse (Almost) Comes to Montclair – Updated

BY  |  Sunday, Jan 20, 2013 9:04am  |  COMMENTS (6)

cafe matisse dining roomFans of Cafe Matisse, a beloved restaurant in Rutherford, got a tantalizing amuse-bouche this week – but only that, when it looked like the owner might open a branch in Montclair. But don’t give up hope yet.

A good friend (and Matisse fan) writes of her experience at the Rutherford restaurant:
“What’s not to like? Amazing food, beautiful space and gardens, exceptional staff,” adding that the nicest thing is they have a wine shop in front so you can grab a bottle there.

“When you arrive they bring you into the shop for a short wine tasting — they select something to pair with the day’s menu, which is seasonal. Food is small plates, almost like a tasting menu. We should go together sometime.”

98 watchung ave zimmerman oilNow the bad news. Cafe Matisse’s plans for a Montclair restaurant were 86’d at the last Montclair planning board meeting, when a conceptual review of a proposal from Peter Loria, owner/chef of Cafe Matisse in Rutherford, was discussed. Loria wanted to convert the C. Zimmerman Oil building to a restaurant. The property at 98 Watchung Avenue, listed at $799,000, is located next to The Pie Store and Montclair Music Studio.

According to the Montclair Times, when the planning board heard what Loria wanted to do with the space, specifically valet parking that would bring patrons’ cars to the Fairfield lot, they discouraged Loria, telling him to look for another Montclair location.

We tried to reach Loria, who was interested in buying a building rather than renting, for additional comment, but he did not call back. Sadly, Jim Walters, Remax realtor, confirms Loria’s position.

“Usually there are one or more pieces on the market in Montclair, but in review there are none that in my opinion are suitable or fit the profile for Mr. Loria,” says Walters.

The good news: A tipster tells us the restaurant is still very interested in opening a second location in Montclair and there may be a possible alternate location. They have been looking to open a second location (the Rutherford location is here to stay) for more than a year in Montclair and will continue to do so. Apparently, they get a lot of Montclair customers who come to Rutherford now.

Tell us — are you a Matisse fan? Have you been there before? And what should I order (taking a trip there with my disappointed, but still hopeful friend soon…)?


  1. POSTED BY madmodom  |  January 20, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

    I think we may have the same friend. That would have been a great addition to the Watchung area. It’s a fun place to go for dinner – enjoy!

  2. POSTED BY Howard Beale  |  January 21, 2013 @ 10:25 am

    In my opinion, the best restaurant in New Jersey. My wife loves the crab cake plate and I enjoy the short rib plate. She gets the 2 plate meal and I get the 3 plate.

  3. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  January 21, 2013 @ 10:30 am

    I hope they find another spot in Montclair. Having people double parked or having a couple of cars lined up right there by the turn from under the trestle is probably a bit of a hazard.

  4. POSTED BY nomo  |  January 21, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

    How about the old Schweppe building? That would make a great restaurant!

  5. POSTED BY silverleaf  |  January 21, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

    Next to Kiehl’s Pharmacy on Valley Rd? Is the building available?

  6. POSTED BY townie  |  January 21, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

    My top spot is Nick’s Valero in Watchung

Featured Comment

I'm struck by how much attention is being paid to the details of a parking lot, as opposed to the attention paid to the future impact of the monstrous projects being planned.

Tip, Follow, Friend, Subscribe