With its conspicuously Italian name, Trattoria Rustica is not putting on airs, but rather paying homage to its authentic roots. Born in Calabria, Italy, owner and head chef Pat Turano naturally gravitates to the fresh ingredients and homespun cooking that breathe life into the cuisine of his native country. Drawing from his family background and a culinary career that spans 25 years, Pat whips up antipasti such as homemade, ricotta-stuffed meatballs and grilled calamari, as well as entrees that include rigatoni with vodka sauce and salmon served over cannelli beans and spinach. After conquering their entrees, diners can savor forkfuls of cannolli and tiramisu as their meal draws to an end. Trattoria Rustica's snug interior evokes Old World gentility with walls forged from a blend of vintage, exposed bricks and sandstone-hued stucco painted with murals of rustic Italy. Pendant lights and understated chandeliers envelope the eatery in a soft glow as guests nestle in dark wood chairs and fold the corners of white tablecloths into origami replicas of their meals.
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.
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.
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.
Owner and executive chef Juan Andres Placencia brings years of experience to his bold flavor hotspot, infusing traditional Peruvian dishes with high-quality ingredients and refined cooking techniques. Costanera’s rich, seafaring menu preps head-holes for the imminent arrival of heaping portions of crunchy crustaceans served alongside Peruvian condiments. Appetizers tread gastronomic water with marinated diver scallops, quinoa-crusted fish fritters, and spicy prawn soups floating alongside herbivore-friendly potato cakes. A selection of protein-packed entrees combines Peruvian taste notes with global inspiration; braised Colorado lamb shank sits thigh to wing with traditional Peruvian rotisserie chicken, much to the delight of anyone on a pure meat diet. Costanera is also BYOB, so feel free to bring along a favorite wine, beer, or full bathtub of gin.