Top 5 Most Talked About Restaurant Stories of 2011

People always ask me what’s new on the Montclair restaurant scene.  As I reflect on a very busy 2011, rather than recounting the copious closings, (like Tallmadge Cheese Market, Chef’s Lab, 32 Church, Cilantro, Passionne, Mei’s Café, QBA, Market, The Honest Dog, Charlie Brown’s, Table 8, and others) and openings (like Little Phil’s, Tapastry, Brick Lane, Tacqueria Autentica, Upstairs, True North Osteria, Adara, Fin, Casa Pequin, Little Daisy, Acappello, and Samba), I thought it would be more fun to countdown my Top 5 Most Talked About Restaurant Stories of 2011.  Cheers!

1.    Adara Brings Molecular Gastronomy to Montclair

Love it or hate it, Chef Tre Ghoshal’s mission to bring “edge cuisine” to New Jersey was a huge press story.  In addition to New Jersey press, Adara also garnered the attention of the New York Times, Chowhound, Grub Street, and Today.

Chef Mitchell Altholz with Chef Gordon Ramsay *Photo Courtesy of Mitchell Altholz2.    Leone’s Kitchen Nightmare

Chef Gordon Ramsay and crew blazed into Montclair in July to clean out and clean-up Leone’s, the landmark traditional Italian-American restaurant on South Park St.   The Kitchen Nightmares episode aired on Fox on September 30.  Again, love it or hate it, it was a huge story.  Want to know what Leone’s is like post-Ramsay? Read the review on Hot From The Kettle.

3.    Brick Lane Brings The Heat!

Sati Sharma and his partner, Ajit Singh Bains, along with Ritesh Patel and executive chef, Karthik Kumar, brought saucy, savory curry to Montclair in July when they opened Brick Lane Curry House at 540 Valley Road.   Since the opening, Montclair has embraced Brick Lane, and a few brave local souls have even become “Curry Monsters!”  

4.    Cocktails at Upstairs

Veteran restauranteur, Aki Kaneda, purchased a coveted Montclair liquor license and opened a sleek bar above Dai Kichi on Valley Road.  Upstairs, which offers a seasonal menu and artisanal cocktails, Upstairs has become a favorite spot for those seeking cocktails in a space with a modern vibe. 

5.    Richie Cecere’s Puts Liquor License Up For Sale

Nothing makes local restaurateurs more starry-eyed than hearing that a liquor license is for sale. Cecere’s declared that they were selling their license in April.  At the time of this writing, the sale has yet to close.


Did I leave anything out? What do you think was the most talked about local restaurant story of 2011?