The Rosie Report: Café Moso

Named for the neighborhood where it's located, in Montclair's southern end, this new eatery serves elevated comfort food classics.

Cafe Moso
Blackened salmon topped with tzatziki sauce. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

The Safersteins had never heard of the Moso district in Montclair until Café Moso (for Montclair South) opened in May. Get out a map, make a reservation, and do try this new, endearing casual restaurant. We loved it in spite of the well meaning but amateurish service. The menu offers American fusion cuisine with some Southern and BBQ dishes.

To start, we recommend either the Thai chile or barbecue-flavored crispy, twice-cooked Goffle Farms wings which come six to an order. They are also available as Buffalo wings. A lighter choice is a refreshing and innovative warm wild mushroom, baby arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese salad dressed with honey-citrus vinaigrette. Tuna tartare, which sat atop of an avocado puree, was a colorful presentation. Many tables opted for the mac and cheese, a head-turning appetizer, made with corkscrew shaped cavatappi pasta that grabs the Vermont cheddar sauce. Topped with a baked cheddar crust and Parmesan crumble this dish is on our “must order” list when we return.

Cafe Moso
Tuna tartare. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Cafe Moso
Chicken wings. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Cafe Moso
Barbecue ribs. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Cafe Moso
Cornmeal crusted catfish. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Cafe Moso
Nutella crème brulee. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

Char grilled baby Spanish octopus with Israeli couscous and Niçoise olive emulsion was so well prepared that we debated about ordering another portion. Two other winners were the barbecue ribs flanked with baked tiny great northern beans and collard greens enhanced with vinegar and poblanos creating lip smack’n sweet and sour flavors. Shrimps marinated in black pepper and rosemary and chorizo served as proteins in the shrimp and grits. Red eye gravy tied it all together.

There were only two desserts available when we dined here. We bypassed ice cream with berries and opted for a Nutella crème brulee with a hardened caramelized sugar topping, some blackberries and whipped cream. It was divine and we fought over the last spoonful.

The menu is being tweaked so some of the dishes may not be available. Also, check out their hours which may be expanding.

UPDATE: We returned to Café Moso as my new mantra was “I have to try the mac n’ cheese.” It was worth every calorie as was the crunchy cornmeal fried catfish with sweet potatoes fries, collard greens and a spicy remoulade sauce presented on a wooden plate. Equally delicious and much healthier was blackened salmon with tzatziki sauce topped with a fried kale leaves.

Open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am to 9:30 pm; breakfast Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 am; Sunday brunch 9 am to 4:30 pm; closed Monday. Outdoor seating available weather permitting.

Café Moso, 307 Orange Road, Montclair;  973-860-7400; BYO

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