Hot Pita! Lebanese-French Fusion at Uncle Moustache in Montclair

by Melody Kettle

FoulI stumbled into Uncle Moustache one Saturday afternoon because my daughter liked the name.  I’m glad she did, since that wonderful afternoon I’ve returned to Uncle Moustache at least six times for brunch, lunch and dinner.

So what’s behind the funny name? The owners, of Uncle Moustache, Chef Wisam El Masri and Ali Lyoussi, are dedicated, charming hosts, and the former managerial team of  Uncle Moustache in Manhattan.  Chef Wisam was the former chef at the three Moustache locations in NYC, as well as the chef at Mamlouk in the East Village for twelve years.   Ali, also from the Moustache/Mamlouk team, runs the front of the house, and serves beautiful Lebanese dishes and vibrant hibiscus tea, and is responsible for much of Uncle’s signature style. 

Tunisian EggsAccording to Ali, who was born in Morocco, Uncle Moustache is Lebanese-French Fusion. So, what does that mean? Essentially, it’s high quality, traditional Lebanese cuisine, with a flare of French presentation.  

Uncle Moustache opens for brunch at 11 am, serving delectable French toast ($8) with berries, walnuts and warm maple butter, Middle Eastern Eggs with labne cheese, Lebanese salad and pita; Eggs Benedict ($10); and Eggs Nantua ($10) which features 2 poached eggs on an English muffin with smoked salmon, Hollandaise sauce and homefries. Uncle Moustache also makes a remarkably light Nutella crepe with quinoa flour – highly recommended.

During a recent brunch, a revelation in Combination Mezzea ramekin appeared in form of Tunisian eggs ($9).  Two organic eggs are cracked over a flavorful mix of peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic and cooked to over easy perfection.  Caution, Tunisian eggs do come out of the oven piping hot, so break your yolks, then let it cool down. The Tunisian eggs are accompanied by a baby arugula salad with walnuts and feta, and homefries.

If you’re dining for lunch or dinner, you’re bound to observe another chef manning the pita counter, rolling dough, popping it into an oven, and pulling out perfect pita, hot and fresh!  This is a major Uncle Moustache perk! The pita is a perfect companion to a variety of favorites, like Lentil Soup ($3.50) which is a smooth, savory and blend of delicate silky lentils, and the Fatouch ($5.50), a green salad with tomato, cucumber, radish, onZaatar Breadions, toasted pita, sumac, and vinaigrette, which is palate cleansing and a great size for sharing. 

Appetizers are fresh, perfectly executed, and beautifully plated.  I recommend the Combination Mezze (choice of four appetizers) ($12).  Among my favorite  apps are the Foul, fava beans with tomato, parsley and garlic, and the babgannouj ($5.50) with subtle smoke and vibrant citrus notes. The Rahib ($5.50), grilled eggplant with red bell peppers, cucumber, onion, and mint is another sure-to-please item, savory, yet bright.  For a light snack, Labne ($5.50), the creamy homemade yogurt, makes the perfect dipping sauce for fluted Zaatar bread ($7), rich with spices and olive oil. 

All the meat at Uncle Moustache is organic. During a lunch, I had the 7 oz. PitaMomo’s Burger ($10.50), served with caramelized onions, served on a challah bun with fries. Delish.  Cooked to rare perfection, the meat was juicy with a clean bite.  I also ordered the Makanek, a fresh, house-made Lebanese lamb sausage sautéed in olive oil and lemon, with a delicious pomegranate sauce. The pita was used to wipe up every last drop of the sweet/savory sauce.

Uncle Moustache offers a full range of traditional items like Moussaka($8), Chicken and Lamb Kabab ($12), Grilled Lamb Chops ($19), and Ouzi, chicken or lamb, with carrots, peas, onions, raisins, almonds, basmati rice, and spices enclosed in a Filo and served with yogurt sauce ($16). 

MakanekThroughout the day, Uncle Moustache serves a variety of sandwiches on freshly baked pita, like Falafel ($6), Beef Shawarma ($10), and Sujuk ($10), fresh Lebanese spicy beef sausage and tomato sautéed in olive oil, are another great option for take out or dine in.

The desserts alone are good enough to warrant a visit to Moustache. The pistachio ice cream($5) is very good, and the baklava ($3) is outstanding.  Also available are Saffron Rice Pudding ($5), and the traditional milk pudding, Muhalabia ($5).

A great addition to Montclair!

Uncle Moustache
702 Bloomfield Avenue,
Montclair, NJ 07042
(973) 233-9500
Open 7 days a week.