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Jun 4, 2009 08:29 AM

New to Montclair-another UWS transplant

Longtime Manhattan Hound here. We recently moved to Montclair and just trying to get some feedback on some basics:


We'll start there then expand.


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    1. For authentic Sichuan, you've GOT to go to Chengdu 1! Even if you don't know the real deal, they have American Chinese dishes. But go for the good stuff...Ants Climbing a Tree, Spicy Baby Wontons, sauteed Pork Belly with leeks... Ask for guidance; they'll help! From Montclair, take Bloomfield Ave. West towards Verona and turn right on Prospect Ave/Rt. 23...about a mile down on the right is a 2-level shopping center; Kings supermarket is in the top level, and on the lower one, near Staples and the movie theater, is Chengdu 1.

      You didn't ask for it, but here are a few other places you should know about:

      For some of the most creative food in town, have dinner at Blu on Bloomfield Ave, near the intersection of Park Street. Bonus: prices are ridiculously reasonable for the high level of cooking, ingredients, service, and creativity. Oh, and it's BYO! :-) The same chef owns Next Door, which is, door. There you'll find more casual fare for lunch and dinner, and even more ridiculously reasonable prices.

      Bluestone Cafe, where they roast their own coffee and have decent breakfast. It's just an all-around good vibe, imo. It's at Watchung Plaza where Watchung Ave and Park Street intersect ("upper" Montclair). Expect to wait a bit on weekends, but you can always go in for coffee to go.

      Not in Montclair, but close by is my favorite ice cream in the area, Mark & Julie's, which is in West Orange. It's on Pleasant Valley Way near the intersection of Eagle Rock Ave (that's the street that runs alongside the BIG Whole Foods in W. Orange near Rt. 280), and they have THE. BEST. HOMEMADE. COFFEE. CHIP!!! I hear other flavors are great too, but I always end up with the coffee chip. Seriously--the best I've ever had anywhere.

      Also in W. Orange, around the back side of the Essex Green Shopping Center, is Total Wine. GREAT selection, great prices. Locally, Amanti Vino on Church Street has some terrific wines and a very knowledgeable staff as well.

      On Walnut Street are two spots...Egan's Pub, which is a decent spot for a burger and a beer...and Gina's Pancifico, an expensive but good bakery. Their jalapeno corn muffins are major favorites.

      Small but nice farmer's market starts at the Walnut Street train station on Saturdays pretty soon, and it usually stays open through Thanksgiving.

      More than you asked for, but there you go! Welcome!

      1. Welcome to Montclair! So there's a lot of food here, some as good as NY, others, not so much.
        Start with Bagels: Forget it. There are okay bagels, (Bagels ABroad, Valley Road and Broad Street), but not really good ones. I think the best bagels in the area are in West Orange, on Eagle Rock AVenue, (Bagel Box? Near Pleasant Valley Way).

        Sushi: A lot of decent stuff, (Aozora, Neauveau Sushi, etc), but great sushi in the area can only be had at Tomo's Cuisine, on Rt. 23 in Little Falls. Frequented by Native Japanese, only 8 tables, must make a reservation, and he only serves what he has that day.

        Chinese: Eh. Don't agree with Chengdu.

        Good luck.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Felixnot

          Chengdu 1 is almost universally appreciated by Sichuan food fans. What did you have that was just eh?

          1. re: tommy

            Oh, I apologize, of course Chengu 1, I saw it and read "46"!! We love it. I wish they'd change the name, I'm constantly making that mistake when people refer to it. (I usually call it the restaurant next to Cinema 23)

            1. re: Felixnot

              Gah! I thought you might have been confusing the two, but you never know.

        2. Montclair's full of great surprises. Try out Greek Taverna on Bloomfield Avenue for super Greek food at very moderate prices. Stamna on Broad Street in Bloomfield is another Greek "find." For French bistro food, I love Epernay on Park Street. Nori is my choice for sushi -- I live Azoura's food but the service in always terrible and slow. Try Taste on Bloomfield Avenue for breakfast/brunch -- yum!! And of course, there's always Raymond's on Church Street -- upscale diner food. I think it tends to be over-priced and over-rated but their Cobb Salad is to die for and so are their omelettes.

          I just celebrated by 18-year anniversary as a Montclairian -- welcome! It's a great town!

          1. Pizza: Montclair has just okay pizza, IMO. Our standby for delivery is Nauna's, on Valley at Van Vleck. But there's great pizza in nearby towns. I love Michael's in Nutley and Mario's in Clifton (order the Emma for the thinnest of crusts). Some people rave about Star Tavern in Orange.

            Bagels: I agree that none of the in-town choices are stellar. But Hot Bagels Abroad (also on Valley/Van Vleck, but on the north side of Van Vleck) has excellent smoked salmon and homemade whitefish salad and the bagels are decent.

            Chinese: Yes on Chengdu 1. Also Hunan Cottage in Fairfield on Route 46, but make sure you get the Chinese menu, not the American one (they're both in English). For your run of the mill cheap takeout Chinese, I actually kinda like Wah Chung in Watchung Plaza. It's takeout-only.

            Sushi: I second the recommendation for Tomo's in Little Falls. Love love love. It, Blu for upscale American, and Stamna in Bloomfield for Greek are probably my three favorite restaurants around here, though I look forward to trying a couple of other upscale places I've heard are great (Passione and CulinAriane).

            Other recommends:

            Thai: Spice 2 on Bloomfield Ave (in Montclair) or Brookside Thai on Broad Street in Bloomfield.

            Vietnamese: Little Saigon on Elm just south of Bloomfield or Binh Duong in the East West Plaza on Belleville in Bloomfield.

            There's a great falafel joint on Church at Valley. Not sit-down. And a very good creperie, Bonjour Montclair, on Park Street in the Watchung Plaza area. Sit-down, no atmosphere. High quality ingredients.

            Enjoy. It's a great town.

            2 Replies
            1. re: NJTamar

              OMG, I can't believe I didn't mention Stamna Taverna; it's one of my favorite casual spots these days!
              And the falafel place is called Beyond Pita...tiny storefront right next to the Krauser's and dry cleaners. I think their falafel is fantastic.
              Also forgot to mention Joe Bartoni's, which is on Valley at Van Vleck TOO--across from Nauna's/Quick Chek strip...terrific real-deal Italian deli with great sandwiches and it's they have a lovely back patio for dinner this time of year too. BYO.

              1. re: Curlz

                I also vote for Stamna, it's the best Greek in the area, need a reservations.

                We prefer the falafel from Falalfel Hut on Bellevue.

                Rosario's at Watchung Plaza for fresh Mozzarrella, Bread and other stuff. Their mozzarella brings tears...

                Pizza - Go to Mario's in Clifton, on Van Houten. Order the Emma's extra thin. You have to eat it there, it doesn't travel It is real pizza, (not Star Tavern Bar size), Order plain, or with spinach if you must...