The Safersteins hit the trifecta at the newly opened De Novo, which means “from the beginning” or “anew” in Latin. All the answers on our checklist were answered with a “yes.”
Is the restaurant romantic? Yes.
Does it have jaw-dropping views? Yes.
Is the food and service great? Yes.
We happily accepted an invitation to a press dinner as we have been faithfully following owner Demetri Malki since he first opened D’metri’s, Table 8 and De Novo, all in Montclair. Executive chef is Adolfo Marisi, who also oversees the Montclair location. We yummed all night!
The entrance hall sets the stage with wallpaper on the two opposite walls, depicting the NJ and NY sides of the George Washington Bridge, creating an impression that Lowell and I were in the middle of the bridge. Upon being seated by the floor to ceiling windows, we were awed not only by the view of the George Washington Bridge and Hudson River, but also the ever-changing light on the NYC skyline. There is an indoor and outdoor bar, two dining rooms, a private event space and patio.
The fanciful atmosphere is as gratifying as the food. Be sure to check out the 14,000 hand glued corks that are on the ceiling near the bar, the faux fig tree in the center of the private dining room, plants, flowers, a marble communal table in the bar, dramatic black and white penny coin floor and the knife, fork and spoon wallpaper by the restrooms.
Along with the house-made focaccia and marinara sauce, we started with some cocktails and wine. The 50-bottle wine list, from varying regions, has plenty of selections in the $30 to $60 price range. The Cune Rioja Crianza D.O.C 2015 was $26 while the Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Blend 2016 cost $350. One of the Safersteins’ favorites, the Turley Old Vines Zinfandel 2016 from California, was $55. Our hosts had two of the hand-crafted specialty and classic cocktails: Fig in the City (Figenza fig vodka Triple Sec, cranberry juice, lime juice) and the Life Support, made with gin, Lillet rose, triple sec, fresh lemon and simple syrup. Cocktails range from $10 to $12. There are 25 wines by the glass; 30 plus bottled beers; and 8 on tap. Come during Happy Hour when beer in bottles and cans are $3; drafts $4; house wines $5; an assortment of cocktails $6; and pitchers of sangria are $20.
So what did we eat? We shared starters: shrimp and chorizo in a garlic, paprika oil and parsley sauce which was perfect for focaccia dipping; a “must” order of pappardelle with pulled short rib ragu, mascarpone cream and rosemary essence; a refreshing arugula, endive, grilled radicchio, blue cheese, hazelnuts and roasted pear puree salad with citrus vinaigrette; and the one disappointment of artichokes with a green olive anchovy tapenade. We were expecting fresh grilled artichokes and were served long stem artichokes that were vacuum packed in oil.
For entrees, the cacio e pepe (chitarra, Pecorino Romano and cracked pepper) was scrumptious because of its simplicity which allowed the flavors to shine. A nasturtium leaf soup and mound of garlic-ginger-chili broccolini created a colorful base for beautifully presented seared scallops topped with a shallot cucumber marmalade and dab of lemon pudding. The creative use of a Middle Eastern spice rub and Moroccan glaze enhanced a special of Chilean sea bass flanked by bok choy and fingerling potatoes. An appealing and simpler dish of grilled salmon was all the better because of a horseradish glaze, mezcal blood orange sauce, bacon potato mash and spinach.
According to Demetri, some of the most popular dishes include sesame tuna; squid ink spaghetti with lobster bits; linguini with white clam sauce; moules-frites; and an app that is so popular that he can never take it off the menu: bacon wrapped medjool dates stuffed with Gorgonzola and almonds.
We can never bypass key lime pie and the version here was distinctive with a shortbread crust, tart filling and crisp caramelized sugar topping reminiscent of a crème brulee. We bypassed the pecan pie bread pudding with vanilla gelato for a NY-style cheesecake, which could have been creamier.
There is something for everyone here. The menu offers Italian, Greek and Mediterranean dishes including house-made breads, small plates, charcuterie, flatbreads, salads, burgers, house-made pastas, entrées, and late-night bar bites.
De Novo is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 10pm; Friday and Saturday from noon to 11pm; Sunday: 4-9pm; bar till 1am or later if guests are enjoying themselves; Happy Hour Monday through Friday 3-6pm; Reverse Happy Hour 10pm to close. Valet parking.
De Novo, 1257 River Road, Edgewater; 201-496-6161Click here to leave a comment