The Rosie Report: The Columbia Inn

The Montville establishment is more than 20 years old, but there's plenty of reasons to keep coming back.

Asparagus salad. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

The Columbia Inn was filled to capacity the last time Lowell and I dined there in September 1998. At that time we thought that the food was commendable and very reasonably priced. The same is true today and locals still flock here, so be sure to make a reservation—especially on weekends.

Italian bread, butter in foil and addictive fried wonton chips, similar in style to Stacy’s Pita Chips, were placed on the table along with the wine list. On Wednesdays wine is half priced and the Vargas V Crianza Rioja listed for $29.95 cost us $14.97. On the Vivino app it was $15.99, so we were delighted with this promotion.

Be forewarned, portions are big. We could have easily shared an asparagus salad, served in a chilled bowl, with mixed greens, teardrop grapes, feta cheese, avocado and raspberry vinaigrette. Ditto for a scrumptious half order of capellini with arugula and shrimp in a light marinara sauce. The waiter “got points” because he left the Parmesan on the table so I was able to add as much cheese as I wanted.

Entrees were also pleasing. Snuggled up with piped mashed potatoes and sweet mashed carrots were tender and tasty veal cutlets (veal Nikola), topped with eggplant, sliced tomato and mozzarella. However, the sherry wine sauce was too thick and lacked subtlety. There was no swaying Lowell’s decision to order the Columbia Inn signature pork chop and after tasting this tender hunk of meat I can say that he made the right decision. The topping of poached sliced pears and Gorgonzola cheese along with a merlot Champagne reduction made this an attention-grabbing dish with layers of flavors.

Columbia Inn signature pork chop with poached sliced pears and Gorgonzola cheese. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

More than 10 pizzas are offered along with a list of ingredients to “create your own.” What caught our eyes were the not often seen dessert pizzas; one with Nutella, strawberries and pignoli nuts and the other made with blueberries, custard and white chocolate.

The sweet pizzas were tempting but we bypassed dessert. Lava cake and bread pudding are made in house but other items (tiramisu, peanut butter mousse, cannoli, tiramisu, cheese cake, carrot cake and toasted almond crème cake) are from an outside purveyor.

There are many offerings which will give you more bang for your buck: half priced pizza on Tuesday; half priced wine on Wednesday; Thursday beers are half price; and the priced fixed lunch with the soup or side salad is $9.95 on weekdays. On Fridays, dry aged steaks along with a 90 day dry aged cowboy steak seared on a Himalayan salt block for two ($90) are featured, and on Saturday homemade passion fruit or red sangria are highlighted.

The décor here is nondescript with wood floors, maroon walls, paper covering the tablecloths, cloth napkins and music playing in the background. A high wall separates the rectangular bar from the dining room. Specials are written out with their prices and service was attentive and friendly.

Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 AM; Saturday from 2:30 PM and Sunday from 1 PM. One outlet is available in the parking lot for electric cars.

Columbia Inn Restaurant, 29 Main Road, Montville 973-263-1300

Read more Table Hopping articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown