This past Sunday marked the grand opening for De Novo European Pub in Montclair, NJ. Restaurateur Demetri Malki became the undertaker of renovating the Upper Montclair train station to transform it into its current chic, casual and rustic state for his new venture. His vision for the restaurant was to be styled after “The family-oriented casual pubs of Europe… Guests can expect a recognizable and comforting menu with house-made breads, small plates, charcuterie, flatbreads, salads, burgers, house-made pastas, entrées and late-night bar bites created and inspired by De Novo’s executive chef, Marika Villik.”
Behind the Plates had the privilege of getting a sneak peak (last Friday) of what the restaurant had in store for its patrons.
I arrived a bit early to the event and took note that the staff was happily scurrying around to finish up last minute touches for the evening. When I spoke to some of the members of the service team they seemed genuinely excited about the opening and had nothing but praise for Malki, his leadership, and his passion for the restaurant. As guests filtered in, the owner and staff continued to cordially greet, network, and serve (of course).
I do not have any prior knowledge of the style and décor from the previous restaurant that occupied De Novo’s space. However; the new pub has a very open feel to it. The chandeliers and strung lighting gives it a shabby chic appeal. Reclaimed wood furnishings and accents provide for a slightly rustic look. There is also a large communal table lining the center of the bar area. It’s very inviting and beckons for guest interaction.
The casual, affordable menu has a wide range of small plates that are easy to share. Malki and Chef Vilik look to appeal to the post-workday crowd who will hopefully flood the restaurant when their trains let out after a long day. Sangrias and signature drinks (Such as the Bulldog, which I sampled. It was a refreshing, herb infused, gin libation) will be featured at their bar along with the standard drink fare.
I was also able to sample a handful of the menu items. Before the food started circulating I heard rumors of the famous bacon wrapped, gorgonzola and almond filled dates. They did not disappoint. They were sticky, sweet, smoky, sharp and just downright good! Other highlighted menu items were the duck confit over frisee; the shrimp with garlic, lemon, butter and parsley; mini grilled cheeses paired with tomato soup; eggplant caponata with bits or burrata cheese; and an assortment of desserts including a smores inspired homemade marshmallow (my personal favorite), sorbets and a banana pudding. The menu’s diversified flavors and a wide variety of choices will be the everyday diner’s best friend. The work lunch, happy hour, date night and late evening crowds will all find something that speaks to them.
I’m excited to see De Novo in full swing. I have no doubt that Malki’s congenial and hardworking management, the pleasant staff, and stand out dishes from Chef Vilik will make this restaurant shine in Montclair.
De Novo will be open Sunday through Thursday 12PM-10PM, Friday and Saturday from 12PM-12AM, and the late night bar menu will be offered daily until midnight.
De Novo European Pub: http://www.denovomontclair.com/
…all for the love of the dish