I'm a serial luncher (note: not a cereal luncher). As such, my options seem a bit exhausted at times. And, in BYOB-centric Montclair, the possibility of lunch with a cold beer or a cocktail is slim.
Enter DeNovo, and re-enter Demetri Malki. Malki, who is hardly new to town, gained a loyal following with Table 8 and D'metri's, but De Novo is his largest and most ambitious venture to date - and, most notably, it has a liquor license.
Since opening its doors in mid-August, De Novo has become a local hot spot. Malki, transformed the former Upper Montclair Train Station into an inviting space perfect for a quick drink or reasonably priced meal. Recently, he expanded his regular menu, introduced happy hour specials and launched a terrific lunch service.
"So many of my former customers (who I now refer to as family) followed me here," shares Malki. "I'm grateful for their continuous and loyal support."
His followers are right. After a bumpy start (who hasn't had one of those?), DeNovo is turning out very satisfying, flavorful cuisine at reasonable prices. Why wouldn't you go? The vibe is decidedly local, and with the undeniably charismatic Malki at front of house (who has a remarkable knack for remembering names) DeNovo is like Cheers, only Upper Montclair style.
One of my favorite menu items is the grilled octopus, with red wine stewed onions, crumbled chorizo, potatoes, and a swirl of chili oil. Tender and charred, this octo will please the pickiest eaters of the sea. Combine that with the burrata with eggplant caponata, as well as a cured meats platter (choice of three) and it's a perfect small plates meal. Add a Harpoon and it's a combination for pure happy at either lunch or dinner.
Whether you sit at the bar or a communal table, you can enjoy Happy Hour specials every Monday through Friday, from 3-6 p.m. Highlights include beer in bottles and cans for $3; drafts for $4, house wines for $5, an assortment of cocktails for $6 and pitchers of sangria for $20. Happy Hour menu faves include BBQ ribs, hot wings and flatbreads for $8.
De Novo's bar is open daily until 1:30 a.m.
The kitchen is at your service Monday through Thursday from noon-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, noon-1 p.m. On Sundays, De Novo's kitchen is open from 4-9 p.m.
Free parking spaces are reserved for De Novo customers only in the lot at the intersection of Bellevue and North Mountain Avenues.