The Monk Room, Newark
I stopped in for a quick dinner last week. Super staff, nice looking room, plenty of exposed brick, great food. I had a "Caprazy" ($8) starter of fresh mozzarella and fire roasted tomatoes, and a "14 1/2" pizza ($16) with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and homemade ricotta. Both were very good.
No octopus on the menu yet, but according to a post by tommy:eats, The Monk Room has tweeted that it may be coming soon:
Great addition to the area. They're open for lunch and dinner now, and considering brunch.
Nice, up and coming area...more improvements, new places, etc...and the Rock is attracting some very nice events. The nearby PAC also has some new things going on and the improvements are "spreading" from different directions.
I had a few friends stop by -- and everyone liked it. Good reviews. Might stop in one night before a Devils game. Thanks again.
I've now been to The Monk Room three times...twice for (late) weekend lunches where I was one of a handful of customers, and once on a Saturday night (where I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the place was hopping!).
I am THRILLED to have what I've dubbed "mini-Porta" (see the thread on Porta in Asbury Park if you're not yet familiar with it, b/c you NEED to know about it) in northern NJ, and early this spring, another Porta is opening in Jersey City (with, I'm told, two bars AND a bocce court on the rooftop)! These are restaurants/owners/chefs who are serious about VERY good food. Neopolitan pizzas, interesting (and huge) salads, pastas, and creative cocktails abound.
Since I'm familiar with Porta's menu items, my go-to is always the pan-roasted octopus. At The Monk Room, I've now had it two ways...first, over polenta with slightly crispy kale and a buerre blanc; most recently, over squid ink papardelle with capers (a nod towards the version they serve in Asbury). Note that they don't *always* have octopus, but 2 out of 3 times tells me it sells, so hopefully that will change. The pizzas are consistently wonderful--you can't go wrong with the carbonara, which has guanciale, black pepper, parm, and a fried egg on top. But then there's the 14 1/2, which has hot sopressata and calabrian chiles...oh, my!
Service, as it is at Porta, is excellent; the folks behind these restaurants are hiring people who care about what they're doing and about what they're serving, and it just adds to the experience every time.
This is an exciting new spot for Newark. GET YOURSELF OVER THERE! Very easy to get to via Rt. 21, and it's a block from the Pru Center.
ETA: There are spots along one side of the block on Lafayette St, but there is also a huge (pay) lot available--with a side door into the restaurant.