NOCE 77 RISTORANTE, MONTCLAIR
You can imagine our surprise, when after we were seated, the manager/host came to our table and said, “You are our first customers and we would like you to have this bottle of wine.” Lovely…a very gracious gesture. In the 35-plus years that Lowell and I have been dining out, this was the first time we were given a bottle of wine because we were the first customers. We would not hesitate to return to Noce (walnut in Italian) 77; we enjoyed the food and the staff was attentive and friendly.
For the first night, the first customers found the food to be a worthy alternative to the other fine Italian restaurants in the Montclair area. Three different warm rolls with a you-must-bottle-and-sell-this dipping sauce—made with olive oil, parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and pesto—was served. Good start. We shared an impressive al dente rigatoni with lamb Bolognese, grape tomatoes and melted goat cheese, which was split for us in the kitchen. This was an innovative use of lamb, and just as tasty as the beef-and-pork combo usually used for this sauce. The goat cheese added tang and creaminess. One delightful entrée was a fresh-tasting plate of scallops and prawns with polenta and shredded yellow and green zucchini, orange carrots and green string beans with a mustard-grain sauce creating a colorful dish. A perfectly seasoned, herb-grilled veal chop, with artichokes and vegetable risotto, baby bella mushrooms and demi glaze was tender and surprisingly juicy in spite of it being overcooked. Desserts were bypassed.
The restaurant has not changed much since it was 77 Walnut but the walls have been painted yellow and gray with a white chair rail and new, but uninteresting, pictures are on the walls. The waitstaff looked spiffy with the yellow ties that matched the napkins on the table. White tablecloths and candles adorned the tables. Starters range from $6 to $14; pastas $18 to $24; and entrees $25 to $35.
Noce 77 is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 PM and Sunday from 3 PM. There are three Alans working here. Allen Rojas (co-owner) Alan James (chef) and Allan Fonseca (co-owner) so if you ask to speak to Alan, be sure to request them by title and spelling of their name!
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
77 Walnut Street