Author Topic: 2 more popular restaurants are expanding to the state's hottest dining mecca  (Read 564 times)

Offline shahaggy

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Montclair's Uncle Momo is following the culinary migration east to Jersey City, opening a second outpost of the French Lebanese restaurant in the space occupied by longtime favorite Marco & Pepe, which closed after 16 years in March.

The new location comes on the heels of the opening of Ani Ramen, the no-reservations Montclair ramen house, on Newark Avenue, and with the news that Diesel & Duke, the upscale burger chain with locations in New Brunswick and Montclair, are also planning a Jersey City outpost.

"Jersey City is like the Village," says Ali Lyoussi, who owns Uncle Momo with chef Wissam El Masri. "Everybody is moving from the city. I like the vibe of Jersey City, and the concept we have here in Montclair is not there."

The menu heavily reflects El Masri's Lebanese background (falafel, $13.50; shish kabob, $16-$23; makenek, Lebanese sausage served with pomegranate molasses, $12.95) with a nod to Lyoussi's Moroccan heritage (lamb tagine with almonds and caramelized prunes, $24, while the mood and decor has a French bistro vibe. "When you go inside, you feel like you are in Paris," he says.

The restaurant's pita is celebrated, as is its "pitza," pita with a variety of toppings, from the lemon-marinated chicken ($14) to the shrimp and scallops with garlic and parsley sauce ($15). Expect the same at the Jersey City location at 289 Grove St. Lyoussi expects to open in two or three months.

Meanwhile, Diesel & Duke is shooting for an October opening at 389 Monmouth Street. "It's turned into a beautiful city," says co-owner David Cusumano, who opened the first Diesel in New Brunswick in 2014 with Kevin Rezvani. "The demographics are there. We feel that we can bring something to table there."

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