When the hot-dog restaurant in their building closed unexpectedly, leaseholders Greg and Cheryl Spinelli decided to use the space to create a cuisine rarely found on the Montclair restaurant scene: authentic Spanish tapas. According to Baristanet, the duo paired with chef Gonzalo Fernandez—a native Galician—to create a menu of small plates that includes grilled chorizo, Galician-style sardines, and bacon-wrapped dates as well as a Sunday brunch. One of the eatery’s most flavorful dishes, paella, combines seven varieties of seafood—including grilled langoustine, scallops, and mussels—with spoons that have learned to swim. Every Friday night, Tapastry extends its vibrant Spanish influences to the dance floor, where the renowned flamenco group Romeria Flamenca performs in back-to-back shows.
Founded in 2007, Mediterranea?s cuisine pulls influences from all around the Mediterranean Sea, integrating village traditions from places such as Syria, Lebanon, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Morocco, and Spain. The restaurant is owned by the Homsi family, who emigrated from Syria in 1987. Their roots shine through with healthy and natural menu items including baba ghanouj, spicy shrimp arrabbiatta, half-roasted chickens, and kebabs. While making kebabs, chefs marinate morsels of filet mignon, lamb, or chicken before grilling them and serving them with a yogurt garlic dip. The chefs continue to innovate and create by adding new menu items inspired by home cooking.
The Homsi brothers decorated the space with custom-made furniture from Damascus and illuminated it with delicate beaded chandeliers from Turkey. Colorful artwork adorns the walls, coordinating with the cream and gold hues that dominate each chair or pillow-strewn bench.
Ethiopian cuisine is traditionally eaten utensil-free, perched atop homemade injera, a large sourdough flatbread that acts as a tender, edible glove for your right hand to pick up and feed savory heaps of eats to your anticipatory taste buds. This spongy, pancake-like bread is delicious on its own and provides the ideal sidekick to complement the famous spicy main kick of the Ethiopian dishes on Mesob's menu. Popular entrees include doro key wat ($18.95) and doro aletcha wat ($17.95), spicy and mild versions of tender stewed chicken legs accompanied by a hard-boiled egg. The vegetarian sampler ($16.95 for one, $33 for two) is six leafy dishes, including gomen (collard greens), atkilt wat (fresh string beans and carrots), shiro (pureed split peas and chickpeas), and tikil gomen (cabbage and potatoes). Mesob is BYOB, and this Groupon is also good for Sunday brunch.
It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.
Deb Williams and Chuck Secallus bonded right from the start over their shared passion for healthy living; they met at an Ashtanga yoga class, and they soon dreamed up the plans for Asana House Juice Bar, which combines their love of yoga with their love of raw food nutrition. Through this endeavor, they share their passions with the community by teaching Ashtanga yoga classes and mixing fresh vegetables and fruits into nutrient-rich juices and smoothies. Asana House recently split its establishment to allow the yoga and juice-bar aspects of the business to grow with more space for equipment and experimentation. At the café's new location, liquid gold pools on the ceiling, illuminating the beauty of the decor and the meals Chuck intricately constructs. He draws from diverse ingredients, including a patch of wheatgrass growing behind the counter and a cache of fresh beets, coconuts, and avocados. In addition to liquid fare, Chuck constantly experiments with new lunch combinations, adding kale and sautéed spinach to quesadillas and topping raw-vegetable soups with mint to make meals that are both visually and internally pleasing. Patrons can nibble or sip their meals at one of the small tables or at the bar while listening to upbeat music or watching yoga gurus demonstrate poses in lieu of Simon’s commands on a nearby TV. An attached boutique sells yoga mats and accessories, along with Garden of Life and E3 Live vitamins, both of which Chuck and Deb include in their regular diets.
With more than two decades of experience in the restaurant industry, owner and French Culinary Institute graduate Alberto Traficante could envision exactly what his Italian restaurant, Tosca, would be like. Authentic Neapolitan recipes would come to life with fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as homemade pastas, daily-made mozzarella, and pizzas baked in a wood-burning brick oven. It's safe to say Alberto fulfilled his dream, because since its inception, Tosca's has satisfied locals with these handcrafted and artfully plated Italian dishes. And now with head chef Alfredo Colle—an Italian native whose resume includes a stint as personal chef to Francis Ford Coppola—at the helm, Tosca's menu churns out authentic Italian entrees with a contemporary twist, including bruschetta topped with goat cheese and tender baked chicken an seasoned with a finely ground original Michelangelo fresco.