Coming Soon For Montclair’s Sweet Tooth: Marcel Bakery & Kitchen; Vanillamore Dessert Kitchen; and Sweet Kitchen

BY  |  Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Fans of Mishmish Cafe can experience a new creation from owner and executive chef Meny Vaknin, when Marcel Bakery & Kitchen opens in Upper Montclair’s former Cozy End space. The Mediterranean-style eatery will serve breakfast, lunch and fresh baked goods made with seasonal and locally sourced food. Drop by this Saturday, August 26, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. for pre-opening event.

Outrageous desserts (think chocolate salami, s’mores candy bars) are the hallmark of Vanillamore Dessert Kitchen, located at 349 Bloomfield Ave. right by Montclair’s newest taco spot, Tacoria on Bloomfield Ave., near Willow. The “Sweet Savory Social” concept from 29-year-old pastry chef/entrepreneur Risa Magid Boyer, Vanillamore is set to open in September and will offer private parties. Continue Reading

Montclair BOE: New Hires Include Gayl Shepard As Teacher on Special Assignment

BY  |  Monday, Aug 21, 2017 10:35pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Montclair Board of Education meeting started with a presentation by Peter Coyl, director of the Montclair Public Library. Coyl spoke about a partnership with Toni’s Kitchen and Partners for Health that helps produce meals for students during the summer, to fill the gap when the free and reduced school lunch program isn’t available during summer break. Coyl said the program is open to anyone under the age of 18 and there’s no need to prove residency or income. Kids can come and get a free lunch and so far, during the eight weeks that the program has been running this summer, the library has served over 2000 lunches.

Montclair Library director Peter Coyl details special programs for students.

Coyl also highlighted other supports the library offers students, including databases for students to get homework help after school, where they can log in and get help from a certified teacher on in real time, Coyl says.

New Hires And Recall of Paraprofessionals

Following Coyl’s presentation was a report from interim superintendent Barbara Pinsak, who began by mentioning that administrative retreats were underway this week, with staff reviewing goals and looking at next steps for the district’s Undoing Racism program.

Pinsak then listed numerous repairs and upgrades to various school, including floor repairs at Bradford School; carpeting and painting at Hillside School; and replacing of toilets and lockers at Montclair High School, as well as renovations to the high school parking lot.

In addition to sprucing up schools, the district has been busy with staffing, from before end of school year through to September. Pinsak introduced Mr. D’Andrea as business administrator and board secretary and a new district director of special services, Tom Santagato.

“This summer to date, we’ve employed approximately 20 new staff members and we were able to recall nine teachers and one secretary, not because we are adding positions, but primarily due to retirement or resignation,” Pinsak said, pointing out that Montclair has stayed within budget. Pinsak said the district did add some positions — two full time and one half time special education teachers based on student’s IEP needs. A social work position was added for the Academy at Glenfield pilot and one math teacher at Renaissance based on new algebra initiative at the middle school.

“The other good news,” Pinsak added, “is that I’m pleased to report we were able to recall over 30 of our full time and four half time paraprofessionals for the district.” Pinsak said five additional para positions were also added based on new student needs. Continue Reading

Live Music and More Tonight at Le Souk, Watchung Plaza’s Lovely Marketplace

BY  |  Wednesday, Aug 16, 2017 12:08pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

We were enchanted by Le Souk when it opened up in June in Montclair’s Watchung Plaza. The Middle Eastern shop, which sells nuts, dried fruits, sweet treats and artisan gift baskets, was opened by Jumana Jaber, an artist who came to America from Damascus, Syria, and now teaches design, painting and interior design at Montclair State University.

Le Souk is a representation of the ancient market places, or souks, of Jaber’s home country. Tonight (Wednesday, August 16) enjoy the musical stylings of Julian Keenan, a Parents Who Rock veteran, from 7-8 p.m., and come taste delicious samples of Middle Eastern treats.

Le Souk, 51 Watchung Plaza, Montclair, 973-707-2333

The 2017 Montclair Jazz Festival — Best Yet! (VIDEO)

BY  |  Monday, Aug 14, 2017 10:37am  |  COMMENTS (0)

It was a free, fun and fantastically musical day at Nishuane Park when the 2017 Montclair Jazz Festival brought performances by Cyrus Chestnut, Dee Dee Bridgewater & Memphis Soulphony and A Christian McBride Situation as well as the amazingly talented Jazz House Kids youth performers and staff ensembles. The weather was comfortable (with only a brief spot of cooling rain); food and fun activities at the Family Jazz Discovery Zone kept families happy and there was plenty of beer at the North Coast Brewers beer garden. Even Stephen Colbert dropped by! If you weren’t there, you missed a great time!

Continue Reading

2017 Montclair Jazz Festival Guide: What You Need To Know (VIDEO)

BY  |  Friday, Aug 11, 2017 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The most important thing to know about the 2017 Montclair Jazz Festival? You don’t want to miss it. The biggest 1-day event in Montclair is all about music, fun, food and community. This year’s lineup features GRAMMY-Award winning headliners, regional favorites and performances on the main stage by more than 150 Jazz House Kids emerging musicians.

The all day “no tickets required” event features a Family Jazz Discovery Zone with activities for kids, a beer tent for grownups, parking shuttle, bike valet and 35+ concessions and vendors in sprawling Nishuane Park. Some 8,000-10,000 people are expected to attend.

The Montclair Jazz Festival is the brainchild of jazz vocalist and recording artist Melissa Walker. Walker is the president and founder of Jazz House Kids, a Montclair-based arts education and performance nonprofit that through 80 community concerts and the Montclair Jazz Festival reaches 25,000 people.

Award-winning bassist, composer and arranger Christian McBride, who is Jazz House Kids’ artistic chair and Montclair Jazz Festival artistic director (as well as artistic director for the Newport Jazz Festival!) will take the stage throughout the day. Award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson, from NBC’s “Chicago Med” and “Law and Order,” returns as mistress of ceremonies. Merkerson will be joined by WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM’s Gary Walker, as stage host.




Family Fun

Montclair Jazz Festival

Little be-boppers can groove while they play, create and enjoy story time at the Family Jazz Discovery Zone, a collaboration between Jazz House Kids, Montclair Public Library and Montclair Art Museum.


Getting There

A free Montclair Jazz Festival shuttle will run continuously from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., every 30 minutes, transporting passengers from designated parking lots to the Montclair Jazz Festival. If you decide to bike to the festival, Diamond Cycle is sponsoring free, on-site bike parking.


What To Bring

Your appetite! There will be food galore, from local restaurants and vendors, as well as a beer garden, sponsored by North Coast Brewing Company! Lawn chairs, blankets and picnic baskets are also permitted.


What: The 8th Annual Montclair Jazz Festival
When: Saturday, AUGUST 12, NOON – 9:00 PM (rain or shine)
Where: Nishuane Park, 48 High Street, Montclair
Cost: FREE!

Never been to the Montclair Jazz Festival?!? To see what it’s all about — check out the video below.

Baristanet is once again proud to be a media sponsor for the Montclair Jazz Festival. Come visit our tent at the festival — we would love to meet you.

Bivio Returns! Bivio Panificio Opens on Pine Street in Montclair

BY  |  Friday, Aug 04, 2017 1:03pm  |  COMMENTS (3)

“You can sell a business, but you can’t sell passion.”

That’s what Montclair’s Tomasso Colao discovered not long after after he and his wife Jackie sold their hugely popular pizza business, Bivio Pizzeria Napoletana in Little Falls (we wrote about Bivio back in 2014 and then raved about them in Where to Eat Pizza).

“The fire was calling me. I missed the oven, missed the dough,” says Colao of his decision to open a new venture. He looked at other locations, including one in Bloomfield, but nothing worked out. There was one location, at 107 Pine Street, that he always loved. It had been a butcher shop, a fish market, a bakery, and lastly, a cheese importing business. Colao, who has lived in Montclair for over 25 years, had always loved the building and the space, so when he saw it was aailable, he jumped.

Today, the Pine Street storefront buzzes with the sound of jazz music playing in the background (when he’s not baking, Colao is a musician, playing saxophone, flute and clarinet) and the heady scent of bread baking.

Colao’s bread is all natural and he hopes to make 50-70 loaves a day. For now, he expects to be open until 5 p.m or until “all the bread is gone.” Once the bread is home, keep it away from plastic. “The crust is its own container,” says Colao, adding that it should stay fresh for about three days, providing you don’t eat it all before then. Continue Reading

Coming To A Public Space Near You: Art Park Montclair

BY  |  Friday, Jul 28, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (6)

Montclair is known as an arts destination but it doesn’t have an art park. Montclair artist Jennifer Levine would like to change that.

Levine and artist Elizabeth Jacobs (who created the “Tony” bench at the corner of Park Street and Chestnut) came up with the idea for Art Park Montclair (APM), an open, accessible, inviting public space for the community to gather and connect through a shared artistic experience. The project team now includes Amy Tingle and Maya Stein of The Creativity Caravan – a Montclair-based creative arts workshop, gallery, and studio space – and Alex Nunez of Colectivo Workshop, an architectural design-build studio.

The mission of Art Park Montclair is to celebrate the cultural richness of Montclair through experiences that promote creative play, inspire self-expression, and deepen connection to and pride of the community. Through engaging installations, inviting gathering spaces, and unique sculptural and educational features, Art Park Montclair will be a lively and evolving destination for locals and visitors alike. Continue Reading

Juice, Smoothies, Bowls and More! Juice Culture Now Open in Upper Montclair

BY  |  Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017 10:05am  |  COMMENTS (2)

Upper Montclair has a new spot for healthy, organic drinks and snacks on the go. It’s called Juice Culture and it’s the brainchild of Kacy Erdelyi, a Montclair mom with a strong interest in health and nutrition who had been waiting for and wanting a juice and smoothie place to open in the area and decided to make it happen herself.

Erdelyi, who was working in NYC part time and home with her two young children two days a week, also wanted to make a change and give up her long commute. She was also missing the kinds of healthy juice and smoothie places she frequented at work in the city and also when she and her family lived in Brooklyn.

A background in business and marketing helped her get up to speed quickly on creating a business plan for Juice Culture; she hired consultants to assist with the restaurant/food business end.

“I don’t have a food background but I’ve always had a high level of interest in health and wellness,” says Erdelyi. “One of the things I’ve learned is not to diet or deprive yourself.”

Instead, because it’s easier to “say what I am going to do than what I’m not going to do,” Erdelyi made it her mantra a few years back to get four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit every day. “I found that when I did that, I was able to eat well and get all the nutrients I needed and wasn’t filling up on unhealthy choices.”

The menu at Juice Culture includes cold-pressed juices, blends (smoothies), bowls (featuring bases like acai peanut butter, pitaya or yogurt, as well as an oatmeal option), hot infusions and kids treats.

Erdelyi envisions Juice Culture as having a coffee-shop vibe (one menu item, The Greg, features Java Love cold-brew coffee, soy milk, banana, peanut butter, cacao, date, raw honey and ice) where people can come in for a drink or a snack and linger, meet up with friends, even do a little work. Continue Reading

Zeugma Mediterranean Grill & Wine Bar Opens in Montclair

BY  |  Thursday, Jul 20, 2017 3:30pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

Zeugma Mediterranean Grill & Wine Bar, a new Turkish fusion restaurant located at 44 South Park Street in the Siena building, is full of surprises.

Starting with the incredibly addictive Ginger Lee, a refreshing shaken drink made with fresh squeezed lemon, juiced ginger, honey and a dash of cayenne and garnished with candied ginger & lemon peel (lip-smacking on its own, but would also be incredible spiked with your favorite spirit) to cold mezzes like pumpkin mohammara (sweet pumpkin puree, walnut, garlic, feta cheese perfect for dipping with pita) to a pistachio steak burger served with roasted tomatoes, pistachio pesto, spiced fries and pickles ($16), Zeugma’s menu has imaginative dishes you won’t find elsewhere.

Take Zeugma’s grilled halloumi ($13), for instance. The delicious cheese from Cyprus is grilled, but at Zeugma, it gets wrapped in grape leaves first and then served with a sweet chili sauce. The preparation elevates the halloumi to a new level.

You’ll recognize dishes from Greek and Turkish cuisine, but at Zeugma, they have their own unique twist. Turkish chef Can Alp was born and raised in Turkey, but went to study French cooking in Paris. Alp came to the States and was a chef at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center in New York. He credits his time in Paris as being a big influence on his style, but he maintains the traditions of Turkish food and culture, creating the perfect fusion dining experience.

Adding to the experience at Zeugma is a fresh, welcoming decor, evocative of a seaside taverna. The space is opened up and completely renovated (looking completely different from when it was occupied by a steakhouse) with different seating areas, a lovely mosaic-inspired mural, as well as an attractive wine bar upfront (Zeugma is in the process of securing a California wine license, but you can also BYOB).

Other dishes to try include the tender grilled octopus ($16), the miso calamari ($14), and the pan seared salmon, served with root vegetables, mustard mashed potatoes and garlic kale sauce ($24). The menu is well suited to sharing and even making a meal of hot and cold “mezze” appetizers. Other dishes we want to come back and try include some outrageous desserts. Of course, there is baklava on the menu, but there’s also a chocolate souffle with passion fruit ice cream or a slow cooked pear with red wine, topped with cotton candy & ice cream. We loved the Z Chef Special dessert (pictured below), a light pastry cream sandwiched between layers of French meringue with raspberry sauce.

Zeugma may be the best thing to happen to the Siena.

Zeugma Mediterranean Grill & Wine Bar, (open seven days a week for lunch and dinner) 44 S Park Street, Montclair, 973-744-0074

Delicious ending @zeugma_grill

A post shared by Baristanet (@baristanet) on

Let’s Do Lunch: Montclair Edition, Part One

BY  |  Wednesday, Jul 19, 2017 2:01pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

Going out for lunch offers the perfect mini-break from the work day. It’s a chance to eat well, recharge and even catch up with friends for an hour or so. Yet, we are doing it less and less. Apparently going out for lunch is a dying tradition, according to the Wall Street Journal. No way. We can’t have that. Step away from your computer. Whether you crave a quiet lunch solo or dine with friends, jumpstart your lunch break tradition with these picks for great lunch escapes around Montclair.


Ah’ Pizz

The Ah’ Pizz lunch specials are no secret. I’ve had at least three friends tell me that Ah’ Pizz is their go-to place for a quick, well-priced lunch. Choose from three options — bowl of soup with choice of salad ($6.99); personal pizza with either soup or salad ($7.99); or choice of sandwich with salad ($8.99). All three options come with a fountain soda.

Ah Pizz

Ah’ Pizz (open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner), 7 North Willow St., 973-783-9200




How happy are we that Mezoco took over the space at Walnut Street Station? So happy, that we are now regulars for their tasty tacos (gotta love the toppings bar!). Carnitas, chicken, steak, vegetarian or tofu tacos are priced at $3.50; there are also individual meal combos or the Familia (12 tacos, rice and bean, chips and salsa) for a group of four to split ($48). The fact that you can walk over to the actual bar and order a beer to wash down those tacos is clutch.

tacos at Mezoco in Montclair


Mezoco, 25 Depot Square, Montclair, 973-744-4749



Jack’s Seafood Shack

I’ve been missing Cape Cod this summer, but Jack’s Seafood Shack in Montclair has been my consolation. Get your fix of lobster rolls or a whole lobster without the long car ride. Or try Jack’s lunch salads. We like the lobster salad platter, served with a mound of yummy lobster meat (prepared either Connecticut or Maine style), potato salad and cole slaw on a bed of greens ($19) or the summery shrimp & romaine salad, featuring shrimp, corn, cherry tomatoes and queso fresco cheese, with a lime vinaigrette ($17). There’s also a terrific kale salad with tri-color quinoa, red onions, and radishes with a sesame dressing ($14).

Jack’s Seafood Shack, (open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner) 718 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair, 973-893-5283

Continue Reading

Featured Comment

And we can get this project completed in time for Montclair's sesquicentennial when we can stick a fork into historic preservation as a public policy.

Tip, Follow, Friend, Subscribe

Links & Information

Baristanet on Flickr

Browse all photos...