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stevenb30's Profile

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1st time at Fascino, Montclair - wow!

We were just there last Friday, the 29th for my birthday dinner. Just wonderful. She and I both did the tasting menu. Some highlights...tuna tartare, grilled octopus with roasted fingerlings, truffle scented rigatoni, braised oxtail and tallegio ravioli, the veal Milanese, and the most intensely flavored mint gelato I've ever had. We need to go more often. The tasting menu is not inexpensive, but ordering off the menu makes it pretty affordable on a more than special occasion basis.

Jun 03, 2015
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Wine for prime rib and traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner?

A hearty Pinot would work. A nice Tuscan wine would also work. Check out the list and if your server is knowledgable, ask for some suggestions.

Nov 22, 2014
stevenb30 in Wine

Villalobos - contemporary Mexican in Montclair

We live in Montclair, and we were thrilled that an upscale Mexican restaurant (with was opening half a mile away. we checked the place out for dinner the first week it opened, some time in August I believe. first impressions - beautiful space in what was formerly a rundown grocery; a frustrating no reservations policy; a warning when we entered a tad before 6pm that we'd need to be out by 730 because the place had been booked for a party; a bit of annoyance when coupled with the warning, they were having issues getting food out of the kitchen; and food that left us in a forgiving mood...delicious Tostadas de Atun (yellowfin, melon, a bit of jalapeno), guacamole with sea urchin and smoked tomatillo, a varied selection of small tacos, some great, some good, sides of decently made rice and beans, and the complimentary tortilla chips with a couple of unique salsas.

We have not made it back yet (the no reservations policy is a definite barrier), and I'm disturbed that I continue to see online reviews that slam the service. Hard to know how seriously to take Yelp, but I'm seeing any number of reviews with the same theme. And given the service issues detailed above, I'm glad our group of six decided to go elsewhere this weekend.I'm hoping to get more, and hopefully, better comments on this website. The chef certainly has a good pedigree, the place seems to be doing well, and service issues should be more easily solved than food issues.

Oct 23, 2014
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Ani Ramen House - Montclair

Awesome. We went for the first time Friday evening. Happy we'd made a reservation (7PM), because there was a line out the door.

We shared two apps - pork buns and stuffed shitake. Delicious. Someone else was having the crispy gyoza. I was tempted to extend my chopsticks and pluck one off his plate. I had the Ani Ramen (with pork broth and added nori and ajitama (soft boiled egg). First rate. My wife had the mazeman (no broth). Also good, but she'll do ramen with broth next time.

Service - friendly and hospitable. The room has more of a NYC feel in a good way.

They don't do takeout on weekends, and I'm not sure takeout ramen is ever a god idea. We will be back in the very near future.

Jun 02, 2014
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Making Matzo Ball Soup for Passover with the Wise Sons Deli Guys

Major issue - a real Jewish chicken stock needs parsnip to add that sweetness.

Apr 08, 2014
stevenb30 in Features

Which are the best Farmers Markets in Lower Westchester? (White Plains and South)

Hastings-on-Hudson. Saturdays behind the library. None better that I've ever seen - try it once, and you'll see I wasn't exaggerating.

How do folks feel about restaurant restroom attendants?

I find it over the top pretentious and obnoxious. Major offender in NYC - the BR Guest restaurants (Ruby Foo's, Blue Water Grill, et al). The attendants' source of income is not my issue, and I find their presence to be intrusive.

Jun 19, 2013
stevenb30 in Not About Food

Buying fresh fish in Montclair NJ?

Selection varies based upon what was available in the water, but the in season salmon and halibut (our favorites), for starters, are excellent, along with soft shell crab in season. they also have a nice variety of prepared stuff - seafood salads, etc. Price is commensurate with the quality of the fish. and not to knock Whole Foods, by comparison, but I will since their prices are higher, the quality is usually not as good, and many of their 'specials' are previously frozen, thought not always marked as such.

Jun 10, 2013
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Buying fresh fish in Montclair NJ?

Caldwell Seafood Market on Bloomfield Avenue is exceptional. Super fresh fish, super clean place, friendly staff.

Jun 05, 2013
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Dinner recommendations in Cape May?

We've been going to Black Duck on Sunset for the past several years when we're in Cape May. Not stuffy, but comfortable. BYO. Great food, great service.

May 03, 2013
stevenb30 in New Jersey

opinions wanted! catering decisions, montclair, nj

For real BBQ, Wood Pit is the place to go. Brisket. Ribs. Chicken. Awesome sides as well. Yum.

May 03, 2013
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Great Peruvian Food! - Montclair

We've been to Costanera several times over the past couple of years. It's in our short list of top 5 Montclair restaurants, and our town is something of a restaurant Mecca.

May 03, 2013
stevenb30 in New Jersey

best high heat pans with safe handle

The problem with any non-stick pan is that really high heat is specifically not recommended, and it will inevitably shorten the pan's already limited life. That said, both my All-Clad stainless steel saute pan (used, abused, and in great shape ten years later) and my All-Clad non stick frying pan (used, abused, and non-stick shot to hell) do not warp, heat evenly, and (non-stick coating aside) have held up great with an 18K BTU burner and a hot oven.

Dec 18, 2012
stevenb30 in Cookware

Pig and Prince - new Gastro Lounge in Montclair

Most of the town is rooting for this place to succeed. Its presence gives hope that we might see a rebirth of its surroundings, a shopping center low-lighted by a third rate Pathmark in a definite transitional (I'm being kind) area. And having one of the town's handful of liquor licenses gives its owner breathing room in terms of building clientele while holding his own financially.

But all we've heard to date from a number of people - confirmed by the Sunday Times review - is that at this price level, Pig and Prince isn't there yet. Reports of mediocre to incompetent service abound. So until these reports improve greatly, we're sticking with any number of better options.

Nov 27, 2012
stevenb30 in New Jersey

NEW BBQ in Montclair - Indigo Kitchen

Nice to see Indigo back in Montclair, and nice to have one less vacancy on Bloomfield Ave. That said, our go-to place for obscenely good barbecue is Wood Pit, further down on Bloomfield Ave. Their website:

The best barbecue - chicken, ribs, brisket, sauces, sides - I've ever had. Downside - not the greatest area at night, and parking is somewhat limited. But that's true anywhere on Bloomfield Ave. So while we're glad Indigo is back, we'll likely be sticking with Wood Pit.

Jun 22, 2012
stevenb30 in New Jersey

degree sign on a computer

Always used ALT 0176. Never realized other alternatives were out there.

Sep 26, 2011
stevenb30 in Site Talk

Cubacan - Asbury Park

We were there Sat nite (8/13). Reservation for seven at 5pm (concert in OG) made days before. We get there at 5, barely a soul sitting inside, and we're told by the hostess (who had a bit of an attitude at that) that all seven of us will need to squeeze into a half round, corner booth meant four four people because larger tables are being held for 6pm reservations. We're then offered the option of splitting the party into two tables. Obviously unacceptable. Finally, after some back and forth dialogue, she generously allows us to squeeze, not completely uncomfortably, into a rectangular table for six, one of us on the end.

Ten minutes then go by -- no water, no menus, no interaction at all; the entire staff is having a meeting. Finally, our waitress (named Alex, I believe), comes over to get our drink order. We inform her we're still waiting for menus. She was sincerely apologetic, brought us our menus, and the unacceptable service portion of the evening was over. I should also mention that for some arguably absurd reason, customers wearing sleeveless shirts are not seated inside. At a restaurant on the boardwalk? Seriously? More than a little pretentious - this is not fine dining.

Drinks came - we all had various flavors of mojitos. Not cheap, and not a lot of alcohol.

Appetizers came. No real complaints, but one could argue that the definition of 'heirloom' tomato was stretched a bit, though the salad, in a light cilantro dressing, was quite good.

Our entrees were all well prepared, The churasco, a grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, rice and beans - cooked accurately and tender. Good, not great, rice and beans.A couple of pork dishes were tasty, I'm told. Same for the mariscada. None of it exceptional, but all quite tasty. We passed on a blah dessert menu, and we headed over to Day's Ice Cream in Ocean Grove instead.

One other note -- a robust Spanish red wine order that came out incorrectly -- a chilled glass of rose was served. When I brought it to our waitress' attention, she reappeared with the bartender (or owner, perhaps), who apologized and offered two different wine choices in replacement.

Would I go back given the attitude we were given when we arrived? I wouldn't refuse to go back if our friends, who live nearby, wanted to do so, but I wouldn't be the one to suggest it given the alternatives in the Asbury/Ocean Grove/Bradley area.

Aug 15, 2011
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Ridiculous meat question.

No. Nothing earth shaking. Just keep in mind that the water won't be absorbing maximum flavor from the hocks until they start to defrost. Over a three hour period, give or take, the outcome will be the same.

May 12, 2011
stevenb30 in Home Cooking

Best diners in NJ

The Ritz Diner on Rt 10 in Livingston

Ritz Diner
72 E Mount Pleasant Ave, Livingston, NJ 07039

Apr 22, 2011
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Ah' Pizz -- Authentic Neopolitan pizza in Montclair

We've only been there once, back during their soft opening. We found their ingredients and product to be first rate. the owner's mother also makes first class cannoli. In the short time they've been open (judging by what we see when we drive by, which is pretty frequent), they seem to have attracted a following. Their proximity to the Wellmont on concert nights, along with their price point (as an absolute, not just for pizza), have to be helping. I wish them well. For us, pizza is normally a takeout thing, and this pizza is really meant to be consumed on site.

Jun 16, 2010
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Anyone have a favorite BYO in Northern NJ?

Pretty much every restaurant in Montclair is BYOB. We absolutely love both Table 8 on Bloomfield Ave ( and Corso 98 on Walnut St. Osteria Giotto (on Midland) is wonderful. And for a special occasion (or not, depending on your budget), it's hard to beat Culinariane (also on Walnut).

Corso 98 Restaurant
98 Walnut St, Montclair, NJ 07042

33 Walnut St, Montclair, NJ 07042

Osteria Giotto
21 Midland Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042

Apr 19, 2010
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

The fact is, his ideas are superior, the food being served in many schools across the country remains inferior, the kids he is trying to help are eating crap, and many of the administrators and other personalities are reacting defensively.

The fact also is, delivering the message is difficult, and without using a verbal bazooka, it isn't always easy to change things.

Many of the case stories being highlighted are heartbreaking. When an obese mother and father are feeding their kids fat-laden crap day in and day out ,and said kids are already obese and in immediate danger of shortening their life, it is difficult to deliver a message tactfully.

I applaud his efforts.

Apr 13, 2010
stevenb30 in Food Media & News

We need WEGMAN'S!!! (And how does it compare to Fairway?)

To a point, you're comparing apples and oranges. Wegman's is an excellent, full service (and complete product line) supermarket with generally excellent produce, prepared foods tailored to the demographic base of the specific area, superb fresh fish, and a first rate meat dept along with a full line of staples and organic products. Fairway's produce is amazing. It's prepared food is also excellent. But it doesn't have the wide selection of staples and non-food that it would need to be a one-stop shop.

We live in northern Essex county, and with the closest Wegman's in Woodbridge and the closest Fairway in Paramus, we have made more than one trip (30 min +) to Wegman's on numerous occasions; we have yet to check out Fairway because dealing with Paramus traffic sucks. I have shopped in both the Harlem and the upper West Side Fairway many times in the past.

If I was given the choice, I'd opt for Wegman's. But that is obviously a personal choice.

Elevation Burger Montclair

Honestly, we were underwhelmed. The burger, well done and all, was tasty, but nothing exceptional. But the fries, cooked in olive oil (olive oil??? seems like you shouldn't deep fry in an oil with a low smoke point, but...), quickly went limp and more than a little soggy.

Admittedly, we took our food to go, and while we live about half a mile away, that probably did nothing for the food quality. But the burger itself didn't seem to match Five Guys. And in the end, neither can match the flavor of a good pub burger. Cooked as you like it.

Jan 04, 2010
stevenb30 in New Jersey

best thai restaurants in northrern new jersey

You should also try Spice II on Bloomfield Ave (north side, across from Seymour St (Wellmont Theatre). Wonderful.

New to Montclair-another UWS transplant

For takeout Chinese a cut above what you might expect, try TS Ma in Upper Montclair between Park and Valley. Also Sesame on Bloomfield Ave on Seymour St, one block east of the Wellmont Theatre. (parking obviously sucks). Nauna's is the best pizza we've found in Montclair. and i have to put in a plug for our neighborhood Greek restaurant, Greek Taverna (corner of Gates Ave and Bloomfield across from Lackawanna plaza, and they have parking).

Jul 06, 2009
stevenb30 in New Jersey

Mexican Restaurant in NJ.

Don't know where you are in Morris County, but Montclair is half an hour or less from many parts of Morris. Mexicali Rose on Park Street re-opened under new ownership just over a year ago. I would urge you to try it.

Tony's Steak & Seafood in Hastings

We used to live in Hastings (around the corner from Tony's), and it was a nice, comfy place with reasonable prices and better than reliable food with a Portuguese influence. They knew my wife's family by name, so I'm a bit biased, but we always enjoyed it. try the Portuguese chicken or shrimp, the mariscada, or the paella. Warning, if this matters: veggies just aren't their thing. the service is friendly and informal; the interior is vaguely nautical and not unattractive. Hope this helps.

Joey Thai in Montclair

He needs to improve his signage; no one konws he is there. We live literally around the corner, and we spent a week scouring Bloomfield Ave to find the restaurant.

The food is good, but with serious competition from Tuptim and, of course, the wonderful Thai Chef, he needs to establish a stronger presence. We drive by frequenty and rarely see anyone inside. It would be a shame if he didn't make it.

Southern Westchester farmers markets

Hastings-on-Hudson. Great pickle stand.

Starts this Saturday. Maple Avenue in back of the library.