Montclair To Get Bowled Over With Acai and Poké Bowls

BY  |  Monday, Nov 20, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The insanely popular Playa Bowls in Montclair is reopening in a new location. Playa Bowls will move to 28 South Park Street (the former Oil & Vinegar location that closed late September), a bigger space that will also accommodate a bigger menu, including a whole other kind of bowl — poké bowls. This favorite Hawaiian dish, which typically features raw marinated fish with vegetables over rice, is almost like a deconstructed sushi roll.

Playa Bowls tells Baristanet:

“We love being in Montclair and as one of our most successful stores we realized we needed more space to better serve our customers. We also see the need to bring Poke to Montclair and have concocted an amazing menu with the help of our friend Rick who owns Xina in Toms River. This new space is going to have some amazing design features and allow for some perfect photo ops for our customers. Same vibe. Same menu. Larger space for the Montclair community that we know and love!”

Former Playa Bowls location is now Sweet Berry Bowls.

Meanwhile, the bowls never stopped at Playa Bowls’ former location at 19 Church Street, which has operated continuously but changed over to Sweet Berry Bowls. You might not notice the difference at first, except for a new sign and a new menu that includes acai, pitaya, coconut and green bowls (drizzled with Nutella if you like), as well as smoothies, oatmeal and coffee. Sweet Berry Bowls is open seven days a week.

Montclair Center isn’t the only place to get bowls. In addition to acai, fruit and oatmeal bowls offered at Juice Culture, in early 2018, Upper Montclair will get its own poké bowl spot. Little Bear Poke Montclair (it even rhymes) will offer poké, Japanese rice balls, and shaved ice in Upper Montclair.

The Tea Store Montclair – A Soothing Spot For A Cuppa and Much More!

BY  |  Wednesday, Nov 15, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Fans of The Pie Store, where sweet and savory pies and groceries from the U.K. reign supreme, will be thrilled to discover The Tea Store, located just steps from The Pie Store on Watchung Ave., on the other side of Montclair Music Studio.


The store, a second chapter in Montclair for Pie Store owner Samantha Codling, offers all kinds of teas, as well as proper biscuits, scones, baked goods and your Cadbury fix.

A cafe and shop all in one, The Tea Store is darling, featuring a bright, cheerful space with a large table as well as stools that offer a perfect perch by the windows. Enjoy a relaxing cup of tea — just choose from a list of over 40 teas including four different kinds of chai — and it will be served to you in a large pot on a tray with a biscuit. Drop by to pick up a tea to go or stay for lunch with hearty soups or a warm slice of quiche on the menu. Codling will also be offering pastis or slices of her pies as well.


In addition to stopping in for a spot of tea, The Tea Store also offers all the accoutrements for a wonderful gift basket — luxury teas, tea paraphernalia, biscuits, shortbread, cookies, chocolate, mints and more.

The Tea Store, 106 Watchung Ave, open 10 am – 5 pm (6 pm on Saturday). Closed Monday.



It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over: Movie Theater Operators Interested in The Bellevue Theatre

BY  |  Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017 2:58pm  |  COMMENTS (3)

Sunday may have been the last showing for Bow Tie Cinemas Bellevue Theatre, but the show could still go on for The Bellevue if a new movie theater operator steps in to take over the almost 100-year-old venue.

Angelo Cifelli, attorney for Bellevue owner Jesse Sayegh, says several private operators, both in New Jersey and New York, have expressed interest. Some of these operators, says Cifelli, are also reaching out to Bow Tie to determine whether a deal can be made to leave the theater’s equipment, seating and other contents intact.

Cifelli says his client is willing to grant a lease extension, giving Bow Tie another two weeks or more, in order to help facilitate those negotiations between a new operator and Bow Tie to purchase the equipment.

“We are pleasantly surprised at all the interest [the closing] has generated,” says Cifelli. “We’re exploring all avenues, but my client’s goal is to keep the building operating as a theater.”

Cifelli also reiterated that his client made an offer to keep the equipment in the building but that the offer was rejected. When asked if Bow Tie made a counter offer, Cifelli said they came back with a figure that was more than it would cost to put in new equipment.

Cifelli says his client will be meeting with interested parties next week, adding that a lot of niche operators are especially interested because it is a neighborhood theater. Cifelli also confirmed he had heard from a representative from Montclair Film regarding the future of the building.

Bellevue Owner Wants To Save Theater, Says Bow Tie Cinemas Would Not Exercise Option to Renew

BY  |  Friday, Nov 10, 2017 1:05pm  |  COMMENTS (5)

The Bellevue Theatre is not Jesse Sayegh’s first rodeo. Sayegh is the owner of the building at 268 Bellevue Avenue that houses the Bellevue Theatre, but before that, he also was the operator of the Bellevue Theatre (Sayegh operated the theater initially and then sold operations to Clearview). Sayegh has a long history of owning and or operating movie theaters in New Jersey and was credited with saving the Rialto in Westfield, purchasing it in 1997 from United Artists.

Sayegh’s attorney Angelo Cifelli, of Piro Zinna Cifell Paris & Genitempo in Nutley, says Sayegh has been trying again for months to reach an agreement with Bow Tie Cinemas.

Sign a petition to keep The Bellevue Open

“Bow Tie’s lease didn’t just expire,” says Cifelli. “Bow Tie failed to exercise their option to renew.”

Bellevue Theatre, 1924. Photo: Friends of Anderson Park

According to Cifelli, Bow Tie chose not to exercise their option and they had two ten year options. “They wanted concessions on some other theaters my clients owns. He offered some that from his point of view were quite substantial, but Bow Tie was still not willing to renew.”

When Sayegh learned that they would not renew, Cifelli says he offered to pay Bow Tie to leave the seating and equipment in the theater, so it had a viable chance of remaining an movie theater, but was turned down.

“They [Bow Tie] are going to dismantle the theater,” says Cifelli. “They own the equipment. Once they dismantle that theater it’s almost impossible for a private entity to come in and take it over, because it would be so expensive.”

“My client has been negotiating with them for months to try and keep them there, but they were not going to stay with concessions at the other theaters,” says Cifelli, adding that Sayegh has been reaching out to other private theater operators without success. As far as his client knows, Cifelli says Bow Tie could be dismantling the theater very soon since the lease ends November 30. Continue Reading

The Bellevue: A Look Back At Upper Montclair’s Historic Theater and A Movement To Save It From Closing

BY  |  Friday, Nov 10, 2017 9:30am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Update: Bellevue Theatre owner says Bow Tie bowed out of lease, declined to renew.

Updated with response from Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson


Bellevue Theatre, Montclair Library Archives

It’s currently Bow Tie Bellevue Cinemas, but The Bellevue, a beloved theater in Upper Montclair, first opened on May 13, 1922, to a grand opening night that included musical performances and a screening of D.W. Griffith’s “Orphans of the Storm,” starring Lillian Gish. Continue Reading

Mangia! Cafe Giotto Opens On Church Street in Montclair

BY  |  Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 9:45am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Fans of Osteria Giotto, and its famous lasagna, were devastated to learn that the restaurant would close in 2016. Fortunately, owners Robert Pantusa and Luca Valerin have brought their magic touch to a new location, the long dormant, former Beans space at 42 Church Street.

Cafe Giotto, the next chapter for Pantusa and Valerin, is a new labor of love they share with their wives Caroline and Deborah, who you’ll find behind the counter of the charming cafe space, decorated with lots of exposed brick, distressed walls and vintage accents that add to the space’s rustic, old-world charm.

Robert Pantusa (left) and Luca Valerin at Cafe Giotto

Cafe Giotto offers a place to buy your morning (or afternoon) coffee and pastry (croissants, donuts and more) or a breakfast sandwich, but the menu offers so much more, including lunch and dinner options, for dining in or take out.

Stop in for a plate of pasta (yes, the lasgana is back!) or a hearty bowl of soup, a salad, a slice of pizza or a panini sandwich served on homemade ciabbata (bread is baked on the premises daily). There’s also gelato for your sweet tooth, as well as small grocery section where you can find imported ingredients for purchase (you can also put in your order for holiday gift baskets). Continue Reading

Bravo! Montclair Orchestra Hits A High Note At Inaugural Concert “Operatic Connections”

BY  |  Thursday, Oct 26, 2017 8:45am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair Orchestra’s inaugural concert at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
Photo: Rob Davidson Photography

Music fans packed the pews of the dramatic St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Sunday night. A new orchestra, of nearly 80 musicians, tuned their instruments and the audience buzzed with anticipation, before silence enveloped the church, signaling the start of the concert. Then, with a forceful flick of his baton, Montclair Orchestra music director and Metropolitan Opera concertmaster David Chan, conducted Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, the dramatic opening notes also signaling a new era for Montclair’s music scene, one that was rich with orchestral excitement.

Montclair Orchestra Music Director David Chan conducts the Montclair Orchestra.
Photo: Rob Davidson Photography

Following Verdi, a smaller ensemble performed Mozart’s graceful Symphony No. 29, its instrumental “singing” melodies serving as the perfect prelude to what would follow. Following intermission, the full orchestra returned for Mahler’s dramatic Symphony No. 4, reminiscent for its flutes and sleigh bells, and the stunning performance of soprano Ying Fang at the close of the concert. Fang emerged high above the orchestra in the church’s ornate carved pulpit to sing gloriously, in an amazing soprano solo finale to a magnificent concert and a magical evening.

Montclair Orchestra and Musical Director David Chan. Rob Davidson Photography

The evening was the culmination of close to two years of dreams and hard work by Montclair Orchestra president Andre Weker.

“I was absolutely stunned by the turnout for the concert, and as an organization we were able to feed off the energy of the audience and give a heartfelt performance. As I have said many times in the past, only here in Montclair could this type of endeavor receive the type of support needed to succeed and thrive,” says Weker. Continue Reading

Outpost in the Burbs: Looking Great at 30!

BY  |  Monday, Oct 23, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Outpost in the Burbs turned 30 and celebrated Friday night with a fantastic concert featuring Valerie June and March Cohn, along with special guest Ellis Paul, hosted by guest emcee John Platt of WFUV Public Radio. If you missed the concert (or want to relive the magic, scroll down to watch videos of the incredible performances).

Outpost was born back in the spring of 1987, when a group of young adults, meeting Sunday nights in the library of the First Congregational Church of Montclair, decided to open a coffeehouse as a way to expand their group.

And over the past 30 years that coffeehouse developed into Montclair’s premier place for hearing great folk music. The Outpost has produced more than 500 concerts by internationally known folk artists — Judy Collins, Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, Richie Havens, J.D. Souther, Dar Williams — and more than 50,000 people have attended.

Continue Reading

Be There And Hear Montclair Orchestra Make History! Inaugural Concert Sunday, 10/22 (VIDEO)

BY  |  Friday, Oct 20, 2017 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

When you hear the opening notes of Verdi’s “La forza del destino” performed at the inaugural concert of the new Montclair Orchestra, you will be hearing history in the making.

The original “Montclair Orchestra” was established in 1922, but the ensemble later merged with other groups in the region, eventually moving to Newark and becoming what is today the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Since then, a permanent orchestra has never been re-established — until now.

The Montclair Orchestra launches its inaugural season with “Operatic Connections,” this Sunday, October 22 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Montclair.

Montclair Orchestra musical director David Chan

The program, inspired by opera and song and featuring Verdi, Mozart and Mahler, is a nod to Montclair Orchestra’s Musical Director David Chan, who is also concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Internationally acclaimed soprano Ying Fang will join the orchestra for the finale to Mahler’s pastoral Symphony #4.

Ying Fang

Chan, who is is in his 17th season as leader of the MET Orchestra, is also a brilliant violinist who enjoys a diverse career as soloist, conductor, chamber musician, and teacher. His concerts have taken him to leading stages in North America, Europe, and Asia, appearing as soloist with such conductors as James Levine and Fabio Luisi.

Chan conducts Montclair Orchestra at first rehearsal at Montclair State.

Last weekend, the Montclair Orchestra, under Chan’s direction, had its first rehearsal at MSU’s John J. Cali School of Music (listen to them hit those very first notes in the video below). The efforts of Montclair Orchestra president Andre Weker, some 18 months in the making, and with community support and collaboration with some of the best orchestral training schools and the best orchestras in the country, culminates with this opening performance on Sunday, at 7pm.

With members of the NJSO, MET, NY Philharmonic, and students from MSU, Rutgers, Juilliard, Mannes, and Manhattan School of Music all performing together, this performance is one of a kind and expected to sell out. Don’t take a chance waiting on line for tickets at the door; buy yours here. You don’t want to miss this moment.

MEA Tells Montclair BOE: “We Are Here” And Want A Seat At The Table

BY  |  Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017 5:08pm  |  COMMENTS (5)

Montclair’s Board of Education meeting was awash in a sea of blue Monday night as teachers and other staff wearing Montclair Education Association (MEA) shirts came out in force to let the board know, during public comment, that they are watching and listening.

The meeting began with interim superintendent Barbara Pinsak congratulating Montclair High School’s Center for Social Justice coordinator Jeff Freeman, as well as students Aja Bussey and Alexis Dickerson, for being honored at the Montclair NAACP Thurgood Marshall dinner.

Weston Science Scholars

The next presentation came from students who participated in Weston Science scholars program, a five-week summer program at Montclair State University. One group of students gave a presentation on the Michelson Interferometer, explaining constructive vs. destructive interference, past applications and their hypothesis and experiments (finding the wavelength of two lasers and measuring the index of refraction of air. A second group discussed RF Smog, the frequencies used for telecommunications, and a project to discern any possible health risks related to RF Smog.
Continue Reading

Featured Comment

Sad. Let's hope that this is not its "Last Tango." One of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in town. Valentino, Garbo, Keaton must have played there.

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