December Dine Out

Why should we have all the fun? You deserve to take a break and eat out—then tell us about the best in Morris and Essex.

Dining—particularly with good company—is something that can literally be savored for hours. These Morris/Essex Health & Life readers share their holiday dining experiences, from tempting appetizers to mouth-watering entrees (there’s no fruitcake here!). There is plenty to “unwrap” and discover at these eateries.

Try something new at De Novo

One of the hallmarks of a good restaurant is the presence of its owner, and it takes just one visit to De Novo European Pub to meet and become friends with its proprietor, Demetri Malki. That’s how 38-year-old Nutley resident Evan Handelman felt after dining at this popular Montclair bistro/gastropub this fall. “The place was packed when we walked in,” he recalls, “but [Malki] greeted us and showed us to the bar while we waited for a table.”

When Handelman and his dining companion were seated, they picked two apps—hot wings for him and hummus for his vegetarian friend. “The wings were tremendous, and they came with a tasty buttermilk ranch sauce,” he says.

In addition to the tempting list of flatbreads and pastas, entrée options include seafood plates like honey-glazed salmon and tuna tartare, and red meat like burgers and steaks. Handelman went with the “tender and perfectly cooked” short ribs—which he ordered again during a recent return visit. “My friend had the mushroom and truffle risotto, which I enjoyed too even as a meat lover,” he says.

Reservations at De Novo are highly recommended. A full cocktail list is available, and wine can be ordered by the glass or by the bottle.

De Novo European Pub, 275 Bellevue Ave., Upper Montclair, 973.893.5008,

Come for comfort

The Morris/Essex Health & Life review of Verona’s Ariane Kitchen & Bar earlier this year inspired several readers to try the restaurant. Marcia Brennan, 60, of Cedar Grove says she was excited to visit and get a taste of “the comfort food and palate-pleasing flavor combos.” And she wasn’t disappointed. From pigs in a blanket and cornmeal-crusted oysters for starters to pork chops and burgers for main courses, the menu runs the gamut and truly offers something for everyone.

Brennan and her friend shared two appetizers—Parmesan-stuffed dates and a kale-and-butternut-squash salad—that she admits “stuffed their tummies.” (The complimentary buttered croissants likely contributed to that feeling!) But somehow, she jokes, the two found stomach space for their seafood entrees.

Brennan notes that the bronzino was grilled to perfection and was flavored with just the right amount of zesty lemon garlic. Her friend’s miso-glazed cod looked just as good as it tasted. “Thankfully, she gave me a nice forkful to try,” Brennan says. “I might order it for myself next time.”

Reservations at Ariane Kitchen & Bar are recommended. A full cocktail list is available, and wine can be ordered by the glass or by the bottle.

Ariane Kitchen & Bar, 706 Bloomfield Ave., Verona, 973.744.0533,

A night on the town

A fire ripped through much of Elm Street approximately three years ago, but this Morristown corridor is quickly reviving thanks in part to the success of dining destinations like Town Bar + Kitchen. Located a hop and a skip away from the Morristown Green, the restaurant is a haven for diners looking for a night out just outside of the hustle and bustle of downtown. “It’s such a convenient location—not far at all from the Mayo Center—and they have a nice parking lot,” says Khalid Durian, 39, of Belleville, who dined there this summer.

During his visit, Durian and his wife started with cocktails from a lengthy drink menu and an order of grilled octopus, which was served with a “divine” kale puree.

For their main course, Durian had the herb- and-truffle Amish chicken, a half-bird with a generous side of fingerling potatoes, carrots and onions. “Each bite of the chicken was a delight to my taste buds, as were the veggies and the plate of Brussels sprouts that I added to my order,” he says. His wife had the smoked seared scallops, which came atop a bed of mashed cauliflower, sweet potato and truffle.

Reservations at Town Bar + Kitchen are recommended. A full cocktail list is available, and wine can be ordered by the glass or by the bottle.

Town Bar + Kitchen, 80 Elm St., Morristown, 973.889.8696,

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