Demetri Malki’s DeNovo opened yesterday in what was once the train station waiting area at the Upper Montclair stop. I joined fellow food writers as well as friends and family of Malki on Friday evening for a pre-opening event where some of the restaurant’s small plates, tapas, were available for sampling.
The new restaurant follows other ventures, Demetri’s and Table 8, which were favorites of Essex County residents. Unlike his former endeavors, with DeNovo, Malki focuses on casual food served in a comfortable space. Such an informal setting should appeal to commuters fresh off the train and looking for a cocktail or locals after familiar foods that won’t break the bank.
For those acquainted with 12 West, the restaurant that formerly held this space, the space has been transformed into a warm, friendly, rustic environment. And the deafening noise at 12 West has been muted with a ceiling full of soundproofing panels. Communal tables constructed of reclaimed barn wood further serve to create an inviting, neighborly atmosphere. I especially enjoyed the wine corks lined ceiling element.
The glimpse into the menu featured flatbread with tomato, mozzarella and basil ($7), veggie burger with chipotle aioli ($8, pictured top left), mini grilled cheese with a side of tomato soup, hummus with grilled pita ($8), Burrata with eggplant caponata ($10) and Malki’s signature from his previous restaurants, Pipa Dates stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in bacon ($7, pictured top center). There was also a banana pudding and a s’mores dessert (pictured top right).
The bar offers craft beers, wine by the glass and signature cocktails. On the evening we visited, the signature cocktail, the Bulldog, was a concoction of gin, cilantro and jalapeño – simply delish.
I’m looking forward to visiting DeNovo in the next couple months to see the space in action. Best wishes to Demetri Malki and team on the new place!
275 Bellevue Ave.
Prices subject to change.
Veronique Deblois is a food and wine blogger based in Morris County, NJ. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.