—After announcing the imminent closure of his decade-plus-old restaurant Costanera late last year, chef and owner Juan Placencia has closed Somos as well, confirming that he and his family are leaving the restaurant business entirely, at least for now. Less than a year ago, we awarded Somos three stars. With the food at Somos, the CIA-trained chef was using classical technique and nimbly pan-Latin flavors to execute dishes our reviewer referred to as “generous pleasures.” The chef seems to be attributing the closure to the various hardship of industry lifestyle and a desire to reconnect with his family—all while disconnecting his children from a youth tethered to the restaurant industry. Somos had already been converted to an events space late last year; the restaurant website is no longer active. Costanera’s last day of business will be February 29. The restaurant isn’t open Tuesday or Wednesday. Costanera, 511 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair; 973-337-8289
—Recently opened in Hackensack is Simply Stix, a fast-casual Greek restaurant on Main Street. The “Stix” in the name is a reference to the several varieties of meat-on-a-stick that constitute the heart of the menu. The rest of the tidy menu is based on Greek street food, with staples like marinated chicken kebabs and pita sandwich platters and lesser-known items like tirokafteria, a spicy dip made with feta cheese. They’ll also do daily specials like chicken orzo avgolemeno, the famous (and famously tart) Greek lemon soup. Prices are reasonable, and while there are no seats in the slim space, there is an emphasis on to-go and online ordering. Simply Stix, 163 B Main Street, Hackensack; 201-880-8853
In the Works:
—It was one of our 16 best breweries in New Jersey last year, so maybe it’s no surprise Tonewood Brewing out of Oaklyn is expanding. Originally founded in 2016, the plan now for Tonewood is opening a second space, complete with microbrewery and beer garden, in the former lumber yard and building space for Mr. Roberts Lumber Center space on Clements Road in Barrington. The brewery would be immersive, putting guests in the center of the process, but the proposed output at Barrington would be nearly ten times what they’ve been doing in Oaklyn. That means a greater variety among an already inventive roster of beers, e.g. this newly unleashed heavyweight imperial stout, with two years of bourbon barrel-ageing and Philly-roasted cacao nibs among the goodies in its hulking flavor profile. No word in timing yet (co-founder Eli Facchinei was just showcasing the proposal to the Barrington planning board). Beer lovers can keep an eye on Tonewood’s Instagram page for updates on the process. Tonewood Brewing, 50 Clements Bridge Road, Barrington; no phone yet.
—The owners of Silver Spoon in Westmont are doing a bit of a reshuffle with their businesses this year into next. While Jillian and Dennis Kelley will continue running their successful Silver Spoon catering business, they’re putting a new restaurant in the space it currently occupies on Haddon Avenue. (Silver Spoon will eventually relocate to a space in Haddon Township.) There’s a second restaurant in the works for 2021, but since we’re hungry now, we’ll focus on Peter James BYOB (named for the couples’ dog), a 30-seat restaurant that’ll open officially on February 5. The restaurant will have a fairly limited schedule, Wednesday to Sundays, from 5pm to 9pm, with Wednesday through Saturday serving a globally-inspired small “tapas fusion menu,” and Sunday dedicated to Italian-style Sunday Gravy. Peter James BYOB, 142 Haddon Avenue, Westmont; no phone yet.Click here to leave a comment