With the wide array of Montclair-area restaurants to choose from, it can be hard to focus on just the right one for date night – but who’s complaining? Since there are a plethora of gems in the area that should be on your radar, we decided to create a guide for the must-visit romantic restaurants in and around Montclair for first dates, anniversary celebrations, and everything in between. Read on to see our Essex County restaurant picks and why we love them.
Bloom | 648 Bloomfield Avenue, Verona
(Photo credit: @bloomverona)
This cheerful spot offers a wide range of French and Korean-style food along with a menu of fun drinks. Bloom is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, and for brunch on weekends. The cute, bright interior is great for an upbeat date. There is also a romantic, outdoor bubble dining during colder months complete with lights and lots of greens. The brunch menu includes classic brunch dishes like Eggs Benedict and a “Bloom Waffle” with mixed nuts and berries, along with special plates and sandwiches like Korean fritters and cured salmon toast with honey lemon ricotta. The dinner menu has appetizers including rock shrimp and bulgogi tacos as well as main courses like Korean glass noodles (gluten-free), short rib, and scallops with kimchi puree and mushroom risotto.
Blue Steel Pizza + Speakeasy | 285 Glenwood Avenue, Bloomfield
(Photo credit: @bluesteelpizzacompany)
Blue Steel Pizza Company is an unusual spot in Bloomfield. It’s a top-rated Detroit-style pizzeria by day, and a luminous speakeasy by night. What beverage director and creative designer Lou Narvaez calls “rab-bit hole” is open at Blue Steel on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8PM to 1AM serving cocktails and small bites. The quirky, colorful interior with dim lighting brings a relaxed vibe and is a great setting for a romantic date. For dinner, Blue Steel’s small plates include crispy cola wings, spinach, and ricotta dumplings, and coffee-rub chicken lollipops in addition to their pizza, pasta, and main courses. The classic and elevated pizzas are cooked in a blue steel pan, and some of the other courses include white clam carbonara and a glazed pork chop. Cap the night off with some sweet potato flan.
Da Pepo | 54 Fairfield Street, Montclair
(Photo credit: @dapepomontclair)
Da Pepo serves traditional Italian food with a casual, comforting vibe. The recipes are learned from Italian ancestors and have been recognized by news outlets like New Jersey Digest Magazine, Montclair Local, and North Jersey Media Group. The interior is filled with bookcases and literature to further up the cozy vibes. The small plates include “Pepo’s Board” of salumi, cheese, olives, and fig jam, melanzane, and broccoli rabe, and there’s a selection of simple salads, paninis, and pasta to choose from.
Fascino | 331 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair
(Photo credit: @fascino_restaurant)
Another restaurant recognized by multiple New Jersey news outlets, Fascino has an upscale, romantic dining area for an elegant date night. It is a traditional Italian spot, focusing on pasta and seafood dishes. Chef Ryan Depersio calls his food “Italian without Borders,” and includes modern techniques and seasonal ingredients into his cooking palette. Fascino has house-made pasta like ricotta gnocchi and includes winter spiced sea scallops, pan-seared halibut, and herb-roasted pork flat iron in the entree selection.
Faubourg Restaurant + Bar | 544 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair
(Photo credit: @faubourgmontclair)
Faubourg is French-inspired cuisine that also has a selection of wines and cocktails. There is a bright, indoor dining room equipped with large windows — great for both day and night dates. The place brings some industrial style to Montclair with the already subtle, romantic vibes. It is a bi-level space with an upstairs cocktail lounge, and there’s also outdoor dining with a new retractable roof just installed for the winter months. Faubourg has both a plant-based menu as well as regular options, including dishes like salmon and fig, grilled shrimp, and seafood spaghetti. Faubourg also has an extensive dessert menu, with cranberry maple crème brulée, pear and hazelnut cheesecake, assorted macarons, and more to choose from.
Halcyon | 114 Walnut Street, Montclair
(Photo credit: @halcyonmontclair)
Named as one of the top 20 restaurants in Montclair by New Jersey Digest Magazine, Halcyon has one of the only raw bars in the area. It focuses on American, brasserie plates, and offers a Sunday brunch. The modern, upscale vibe is good for any type of date, especially if the mood calls for a more formal spot. Halcyon also has an upstairs lounge where patrons can enjoy house-made cocktails. The raw bar has east coast oysters, colossal lump crab cocktail, and jumbo shrimp cocktail as well as classic sushi rolls and spicy tuna tacos. The dinner menu has flatbread pizzas and salads, along with entrees like veggie risotto, filet mignon medallions au poivre, and miso soy Scottish salmon.
Laboratorio Kitchen | 615 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair
(Photo credit: @laboratoriokitchen)
Laboratorio offers healthy, hearty, American cuisine from locally sourced ingredients. They were named in the top 20 restaurants in Montclair by New Jersey Digest Magazine and have a small, intimate, cozy dining room with a heated outdoor area. The food there is upscale as well, good for a romantic date. Diners can pair an appetizer like fig and gorgonzola crostini with entrees like day boat scallops and local mushroom risotto or pasta like fresh pappardelle and hand-rolled ricotta cavatelli.
La Rocca Osteria | 23 Midland Avenue, Montclair
(Photo credit: @larocca.osteria)
Another classic Italian place in the area is La Rocca Osteria. It’s a bit more casual, but that makes it good for a simple date, especially with the large doors that blend the indoor and outdoor dining spaces. La Rocca is another one of New Jersey Digest Magazine’s top 20 restaurants in Montclair and has a chic, straightforward vibe. The menu includes a big selection of antipasto, salads, and authentic Italian dishes like gnocchi, orecchiette, and pollo al limon.
MishMish Cafe | 631 1/2 Valley Road, Montclair
(Photo credit: @mishmishmontclair)
MishMish is a Mediterranean cafe, where chef/owner Meny Vaknin creates his Moroccan-inspired food. He graduated from the French Culinary Institute and eventually went on to win Food Network’s Chopped before taking his family-learned Mediterranean recipes to MishMish. The spot offers both indoor and outdoor dining and has a casual setting good for a quick bite. As for the menu, Meny has included dishes like fried breaded flounder fillets tacos, lamb meatball shakshuka, and a burrata salad in MishMish’s favorites.
See More: A Guide to Speakeasies in North Jersey
Popolari | 1047 Broad Street, Bloomfield
(Photo credit: @lapopolari)
Popolari was featured in Best of New Jersey for its pizza, pasta, and other Italian dishes. The team has created a fun, retro vibe in the space. The menu includes appetizers like Popolari meatballs, and calamari fritti as well as both classic and gourmet pizza options like penne vodka and spinach ricotta. There’s also a wide range of sandwiches, pasta, and entrees like pork chop and peppers or shrimp scampi.
Samba | 7 Park Street, Montclair
(Photo credit: @sambamontclair)
Samba Restaurant serves homestyle Brazilian cuisine and is a certified gluten-free restaurant. The place has a lively, rustic interior with tons of foliage; good for an energetic date that’s not too fancy or casual. Samba serves brunch, lunch, and dinner, with every item conforming to the gluten-free menu. The brunch items include an omelet with eggs sourced from local farms, Brazilian avocado toast, and more. The entire menu is gluten-free and there are several vegan options as well.
Scala Del Nonna | 32 Church Street, Montclair
Scala Del Nonna is a favorite in the area — and for good reason. It has a casual, chic vibe, and just the right ambiance for a date night. Chef Michael Cetrulo has been cooking since he was 13 years old and trained at various restaurants and in Italy. Some dishes offered include portobello Milanese, lasagnette con vodka, and risotto pescatore.
SLA Thai Restaurant | 596 Valley Road, Montclair
(Photo credit: @slathai_)
SLA Thai Restaurant has a warm, simple dining room that’s perfect for a casual date. It’s in the category of top 20 restaurants by New Jersey Digest Magazine and has an original Thai menu with a selection of vegetarian options. The menu offers many small plates, including neur tod (crispy beef with chili sauce), veggie dumplings, and chicken sate. SLA Thai offers unique greens like duck salad and somtum (shredded green papaya salad), along with dishes like pad thai and pad kemoa. There’s also a selection of Thai desserts and soft drinks.
Zeugma Grill | 44 S Park Street, Montclair
(Photo credit: @zeugmanj)
Zeguma Grill is known for its selection of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. It offers brunch and dinner as well as indoor and outdoor dining. A unique part of Zeguma is that it has a mezze bar, which includes a bunch of different Mediterranean dips and small bites to choose from. There’s a big selection of wine and a clean, fresh vibe in this restaurant. The restaurant uses its Turkish background to combine flavors of the Mediterranean, including European and Middle Eastern influences. The menu includes hearty salads like beet yogurt and quinoa, as well as entrees like organic chicken shish, beef shish kebab, salmon artichoke, and a pistachio steak burger.