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Laboratorio Kitchen: Pairing Creativity with Food in Montclair

by Kristina Helfer
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Laboratorio Kitchen opened in September 2015 and is a new-American restaurant in the center of Montclair’s downtown. Its name is reflective of the back of the house’s drive to create unique dishes that combine different flavors and cooking techniques from around the world. Laboratorio Kitchen puts local produce in the forefront of its dishes, creating visually-appealing plates that show off Jersey’s finest. Read on to learn more about this delicious dining experience — located at 615 Bloomfield Avenue.

Laboratorio Kitchen

(Photo credit: @laboratoriokitchen)

The Atmosphere

Laboratorio Kitchen montclair

(Photo credit: @laboratoriokitchen)

While Laboratorio’s interior décor is modern and minimalistic, its food is approachable and comforting. Many dishes take inspiration from head chef and owner James DeSisto’s grandmother’s classic Italian-American recipes, bringing diners back to their own childhoods.

Its blue walls and exposed brick are eye-catching but do not distract from the beautiful plates the kitchen sends out. The vibrancy and colorfulness of each dish complement the lively atmosphere of the restaurant.

Read More: Meet Karen Schloss: A Force in Montclair’s Restaurant Scene

About the Owner

Chef James DeSisto has been living in Montclair for the past 14 years but started his formal culinary career in Florida, graduating from the culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in Miami. He then worked for Emeril in South Beach and did some television work with Tyler Florence before returning to New Jersey and taking a job at Highlawn Pavilion when his grandmother became sick.

laboratorio kitchen montclair

^ Chef James + Sous Chef Antonio Calderon

(Photo credit: @laboratoriokitchen)

Chef James’ passion for food started much before his formal career and much of that is thanks to his grandmother. When he was a child, he was always right beside her as she prepared food for the family. They’d spend Sundays making pasta and he enjoyed cooking with her. Laboratorio’s meatballs and tomato sauce are heavily inspired by her recipes. While Chef James’ touch is evident on each dish, he admits that she is the footprint for many of the restaurant’s recipes.

In 2014, Chef James decided to open his own restaurant because he wanted to be able to build something that was his own. He wanted to bring people onto his team that were as hungry and eager as he was to create a great restaurant.

See More: Cafe Moso: A Go-To in Montclair’s South End

The Menu

Laboratorio’s menu is seasonally-based and has a new specials menu every week. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the kitchen team works together through different recipes and then decides which dishes will be on the specials menu for that week. There is always something new — and mouthwatering — to try, bringing diners back week after week to see what the kitchen comes up with next.

laboratorio kitchen montclair

(Photo credit: @laboratoriokitchen)

In fall and winter, the menu has more Italian and new-American-inspired dishes on the menu, playing towards the comfort we all crave in the cold. In spring and summer, there are more light, French-inspired dishes on the menu. Chef James’ favorite season to cook is late spring into summer. He loves to create colorful food and make customers “eat with their eyes,” as it is another way to connect with diners.

Laboratorio kitchen montclair

(Photo credit: @laboratoriokitchen)

Most of the food is made with local ingredients from farms in the Tri-State area. The secret to Laboratorio’s famous tomato sauce is Jersey tomatoes, crushed in-house for optimal flavor. The extra steps and care taken when preparing its recipes is what sets the food at Laboratorio apart from other restaurants in the area.

For more information on Laboratorio Kitchen, check them out on Instagram @laboratoriokitchen. Reservations are available on OpenTable.

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