Viaggio: Rustic, Modern Italian Worth The Journey To Wayne

BY  |  Tuesday, Mar 21, 2017 2:15pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

Chef Robbie Felice of Viaggio

NJ Wine & Food Festival, the state’s premiere food event, features well-known celebrity chefs from Jersey’s culinary scene and beyond. You’ll recognize names from Top Chef as well as local chefs such as Michael Carrino, Ryan DePersio, Ariane Duarte and Francesco Palmieri.

This year, there’s a new young chef to watch, Robbie Felice, who was invited to participate by Anthony Bucco, executive chef at Restaurant Latour, who coordinates the festival chefs. At age 26, Felice, a CIA grad, already has an impressive resume –working at properties owned by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, including serving as sous chef and head of the salumi program at B+B Ristorante in Las Vegas and working with longtime culinary mentor DePersio at Montclair’s Fascino.

Even if you can’t make it to the NJ Wine & Food Festival, you can take a trip to Wayne, where tucked away in a strip mall, is Felice’s restaurant, Viaggio. Walk inside and you forget you are steps away from busy Hamburg Turnpike. Instead, the restaurant’s reclaimed barn wood, brick walls and strings of lights evoke a rustic Tuscan farmhouse vibe.

House cured salumi at Viaggio

The menu is equally transportive. A Sussex native, Felice describes his cooking as “the way food is eaten in Italy — super fresh, meant for sharing, simple and straightforward.” You’ll want to start by sharing one of the stars of the Viaggio experience — the extensive salumi offerings. Most are house-cured and the rest are imported from Italy. “In order to be truly authentic, I knew I had to make my own. I’m bringing in whole Berkshire pigs that I butcher here, and I use it all to make everything from pork chops and prosciutto to porchetta de testa to mortadella,” says Felice. Diners can select a sampling of salumi served at their table on a wooden board. Pickled accompaniments offer the perfect counterpoint to the rich, salty meats.


Another must-try is the fazzoletti, a.k.a. handkerchief pasta, just one of the many interesting pasta dishes made in house. These delicately folded pasta pieces, served simply with herbs and preserved Meyer lemon butter, channel spring on a plate, and boast complex flavors that make each bite better than the last.

For your secondi course, there is a branzino in parchment with tomatoes and olives or for meat lovers, the hearty Piedmontese tagliata with rosemary smashed potatoes and cippolini onions. And if you never think to order chicken out, think again and try Felice’s chicken alla cacciatore, made with Lancaster Amish chickens, housemade pancetta and polenta.

Save some room if you can for dessert and split a chocolate budino. Featuring salted caramel and meringue, it’s a showstopper ending to a delightful culinary sojourn. For a closer look at Felice’s work, you can reserve the 5-seat Chef’s Bar, for a curated experience featuring a custom tasting menu and a direct view into the open kitchen (advanced reservation required; starts at $85 per person).

Viaggio, 1055 Hamburg Turnpike, Wayne. 973-706-7277. 5-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 5-10:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 4-9 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays

Love It or Hate It, Everyone Is Talking About This New York Times Essay About Montclair

BY  |  Monday, Mar 20, 2017 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Maybe you saw it in the paper or a friend shared it on Facebook, but if you haven’t read the essay Suburban? Just Don’t Call Her a β€˜Jersey Girl’, just know that it rings true for some of Montclair and strikes the wrong chord for others.

The writer, Jodi Rudoren, raves about the town as a “city person’s suburb” and gives love to Montclair’s housing stock, farmers market and its “at least three distinct, equally adorable commercial districts, at least a dozen places to have brunch and probably twice that many nail salons, plenty of restaurants that deliver β€” though not 24 hours a day…”

Yet, the controversy comes from this paragraph: Continue Reading

Kimchi Smoke, Outrageous Southern Korean BBQ Sensation, To Open Montclair Location

BY  |  Sunday, Mar 05, 2017 8:38am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Get ready Montclair for a Chonut 2.1 and much more!

Baristanet fell in love with Kimchi Smoke when we tried their taco featuring smoked pork shoulder, sweet Gochujang sauce, smoked kimchi, cheddar cheese, ramen bits, on a tortilla sprinkled with powdered sugar, at Montclair Food and Wine Festival’s first Bourbon and Biergarten back in 2015. Continue Reading

Montclair Planning Board Reviews Pleasant Ave. Subdivision Plan For Eight New Homes

BY  |  Saturday, Mar 04, 2017 3:38pm  |  COMMENTS (6)

Subdvision of 44 Pleasant Avenue would result in 8 single family homes situated on cul de sac named Lewis Court.

Montclair Planning Board meeting on Monday night drew concerned residents from Pleasant Avenue who wanted to know more about a developer’s plans for 44 Pleasant Avenue, a home with a historic connection to Aubrey Lewis.

44 Pleasant Avenue, the one-time home of the late notable Montclair resident Aubrey Lewis. Image courtesy of Google.

Last year the Montclair Planning Board failed to designate the property with a historic designation. Some residents had hoped to stop the teardown from happening prior to the meeting.

Montclair Planning Board member Jason DeSalvo made it clear to residents on Monday night that the topic of historic designation was off the table. “I know there are those who would love to see the property preserved and I was one who voted for that,” said De Salvo. “But my job here tonight is to cast that aside and deal with the fact that it is not historically designated as much as I might not like that, and deal with facts of land use and the application fairly.” Continue Reading

Montclair Social: A Look At The Study Hall Gang, One Year Later

BY  |  Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 1:30pm  |  COMMENTS (2)

Baristanet first wrote about the Study Hall Gang, a social club that came to be as an invitation to meet for drinks, a little over a year ago. In that time, the group has grown to almost 200 members and has become much more than just a group who meets for drinks every Friday night.

The Regular Friday Night Gig with the Study Hall Gang, 9 p.m., at Fitzgerald’s 1928

Not long after we wrote about the Gang, they outgrew their original meeting place — Upstairs in Upper Montclair. After trying out various spots in Bloomfield, Verona and Montclair, the group found a home at Fitzgerald’s 1928 in Glen Ridge, where you can find them every Friday night. And every Friday night, with a rare exception, you’ll find the gang’s founder, Andrew Pincus, who along with his wife Beth, serve as hosts and greeters.

“My job every Friday night — and Beth does it, too — is to make sure everybody gets a chance to meet and connect with other members and to make introductions,” says Pincus, who adds that he’s gotten to know the members well and can often match up different personalities that he thinks might click.

Sometimes that means talking to between 25-40 people on a Friday night. Pincus makes sure to keep an eye out for new visitors. “We’re not like other groups, where you can just join on Facebook. You can’t become a member by pressing a button. It’s all about meeting people face to face,” says Pincus. For people who find out about the club and message Pincus on Facebook, he encourages them to come down on a Friday night in order to join and often offers to buy their first drink. And because it can be hard going up to a group of people who all seem to know each other, Pincus not only tells newcomers to seek him out, but he also designates other members to act as Study Hall Gang ambassadors. He’s ordered little wine glass lapel pins — to make these volunteers easy for people to find and connect with. Continue Reading

Local Coffee Creates The Baristanet Drink

BY  |  Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017 12:15pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

the baristanet coffee drink

We love coffee and love that Montclair has so many great coffee options. And we love that Watchung Plaza’s newest coffee spot, Local Coffee, also loves Baristanet.

“We ❀️ Baristanet so much that we created a drink that was inspired by their team. Enjoy!” says owner Robert Genovese.

Here’s how they showed their love with a drink that’s got caffeine, chocolate and a little salt to balance out the sweetness. Cheers!

Introducing a special drink for our friends @baristanet #coffee #chocolate #yum #grateful

A post shared by Local Coffee Montclair (@localcoffeemontclair) on

Patrick Wilson, Stephen Colbert Wow Crowd At Montclair Film Festival’s “I Want My MFF” Party (VIDEO)

BY  |  Thursday, Feb 09, 2017 3:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)


Everybody who was anybody in the 1980s showed up to Montclair Film Festival’s “I Want My MFF” party last Saturday night at the Wellmont Theater. Guests came as the Material Girl, Robert Palmer girls, even Devo (gotta love those energy dome hats) and danced the night away to music by The Loser’s Lounge with very special guest appearances by Patrick Wilson (that man can sing!), Warren Zanes and Stephen Colbert at the 1980s-themed dance party fundraiser to benefit MFF programming.

MFF board president Evie Colbert, joined by MFF executive director Tom Hall.


Montclair Film Festival (MFF) board president Evie Colbert started the night off, joined by MFF executive director Tom Hall, telling an enthusiastic crowd that completion of its new home at 505 Bloomfield Ave. was both “on time and on budget” and would open April 1. Colbert announced that the organization was in the middle of a 2.5 million-dollar campaign and that they had already raised $2 million. Continue Reading

It’s National Pizza Day! Talk Pizza and Vote For Your Favorites in Montclair

BY  |  Thursday, Feb 09, 2017 11:50am  |  COMMENTS (2)

Dough Artisan Pizzeria, Caldwell



February 9 is National Pizza Day! To celebrate — and since it’s hard to drive to our favorite pizzeria on a snow day — we can at least talk about where to get that favorite slice. There are plenty of places in Montclair and nearby that stand out for their pizza. When it comes to something old, we love Star Tavern in Orange, a new Jersey pizza institution, for their thin, crisp, piping hot pies. For something new, check out Dough in Caldwell (they score extra points for their creative pies and lovely outdoor patio in warm weather).



Montclair Pizza — So Many Choices

Montclair has a great new cheesy addition to the pizza landscape in Fiamma Woodfired Pizza. Located on Bloomfield Ave., in the former Greek Delights space, there are plenty of comfy booths and the warmth of a wood burning oven cranking out delicious lightly charred pies. When you go, be sure and try their calamari fiamma. And if you want to feel virtuous, make your pie half arugula.

Montclair’s newest pizzeria – Fiamma Wood-Fired Pizza


Another favorite is Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza, where we love Max’s pie (smoked mozzarella, pesto and marinara) as well as the Texas (smoked mozzarella, Texas sausage, marinara, caramelized onion, jalapeno and pesto).


If you have kids, they probably ask you for a Chicken Bacon Ranch slice or a pie topped with pasta — you can find both of these at Enzo’s on Valley or Da Vinci’s on Bellevue. And when it comes to the pizza I grew up with — the kind of pizza you might find at any typical pizzeria in NYC’s five boroughs — Mr. Dino’s is the nostalgic favorite. Villa Victoria has arguably the biggest slices in town — and we love the dining room with its family-friendly, red checkered tablecloth ambiance. As you can see, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Do you love your neighborhood slice or do you venture cross town for something different? Vote in our poll below — you can pick your top three places to grab a slice or a pie.

Montclair Families Write Letters of Unity and Support To Muslim Friends

BY  |  Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 3:15pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Supportive letters to be delivered to Muslim children and their families at the Islamic Centers in Jersey City and Boonton were created at a letter writing party hosted by the Montclair Cooperative School this past Friday night.

The genesis of the event began when, soon after the election in November, several Montclair families organized on the Friday after Thanksgiving to visit the Islamic Center of Jersey City (ICJC) so their children could draw chalk messages of love and unity on their sidewalks. The ICJC director welcomed the idea and invited us to observe a prayer service where he introduced us and invited everyone to get to know one another. The center’s Imam hosted a pizza party for all the families after we decorated the sidewalks together filled with peace signs, hearts, and messages of support. Organizers recall the experience as “a remarkable day.”

When the Muslim ban became a reality, Rachael Grochowski, Elana Segal and Tiffany Loncar felt it was imperative to demonstrate support again. Organizing quickly, with the help of The Montclair Cooperative School who donated the space, the event last Friday took place, allowing for families in the community to write letters of unity and support to their Muslim friends at the ICJC. The end result was more than 150 letters that will be delivered this week. Continue Reading

Montclair Orchestra Kicks Off Inaugural Season with Performance at Montclair Public Library

BY  |  Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 10:15am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair Public Library will host The Montclair Orchestra as they kick off their inaugural year with an open public session and performance on Sunday, March 12 at 3 p.m.

Orchestra President Andre Weker and Music Director David Chan.

Learn more about The Montclair Orchestra and the inaugural 2017 season at an open public session at Montclair Public Library in the Main Library auditorium. Orchestra President Andre Weker and Music Director David Chan will be on hand to talk about the plans and vision for the orchestra, and Quartet 212, made up of members of the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, will be performing. Continue Reading

Featured Comment

A great looking building for Montclair Center with appropriate height, massing and details. Bravissimo!

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