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Monday with Millicent

Sapori Ristorante Italiano in Upper Montclair

Millicent K. Brody

Monday, November 25, 2013 • 7:23am

Those of us who entered Upper Montclair’s all-new Sapori Ristorante Italiano this past Saturday, were treated to an exciting experience. It hardly mattered that most of us had absolutely no prior contact with one another.  What did matter was that almost instantly everyone was laughing, chatting, and comparing notes with  folks sitting to their right, or left, or were standing in the aisles awaiting a chance to sit down. Believe it or not, we were actually  sharing the food on our plates with folks sitting at tables to our left, behind us, and in front of us.  None of us ever saw any f these people before, had no idea where they lived, or what they did in their private lives, but together as one, we graciously shared samples of their gorgeous seafood platters, while we shared our hefty dishes of Pollo Frances and Pollo Parmigiano. 

Such was the scene at the recently opened Sapori Ristorante Italiano. Believe me, it was not our intention to visit this restaurant over the weekend. We never heard of its name, nor any idea of its location. But we had plans to dine with friends from Fort Lee, and Montclair is always our meeting point.

With that in mind, I wanted to reassure myself of Tuscany’s exact address, so I called the restaurant to confirm our reservations.

Much to my astonishment, the person responding to my call, greeted my voice with: “Good Evening and welcome to Sapori Ristorante Italiano.”
To which I replied. “Please forgive me. I must have the wrong number.  I was calling Tuscany in Upper Montclair.”

The voice responded, “You have the right number, only
Tuscany closed a few days ago. You are now reaching Sapori Ristorante Italiano. Did you want to make a reservation?”

“Thank-you,” I replied, “but  we had a reservation at Tuscany for seven o’clock this evening.”

Much to my surprise, my reservation at Tuscany was credited to Sapori Ristorante Italiano. Which is why, on Saturday evening, we all headed to Upper Montclair, and an entirely new experience.

We entered and were immediately mesmerized.  The restaurant was packed. Tables of eighteen, sided-up with tables for two, then six, then fourteen. Folks were hanging-out in their back hall, and hovering around the front of the establishment.          

I had to ask, “How were all of these people notified of the restaurant change in such short time. After all, you were only open three days?”

Proprietor Antonio Grande, who heads Garlic New Pizza and Bar in Manhattan, assured me that they had a formal opening  on Wednesday, November 20th, and that “Word-of-Mouth” enticed the huge crowd to book their tables for Saturday, the 23d of November.             

Heading up the welcoming committee with Grande, was his friendly, partner, Mario Reazione. Recognized by most of the diners, he has the distinction of being the Master of Fresh Seafood and fresh, attractively planned Raw Bars.

A check of the menu revealed a host of appetizers that included Grande’s favorite Rice Balls, with vodka sauce, prosciutto, and peas, ($13), Fritturier Misto, (Italian for mixed fried food), pan fried baby scallops, calamari, baby shrimp, and a side of Sapori sauce, ($15). From Nonna’s Famous Kitchen,  Pollo Parmigiano, features a huge dish of heavily breaded chicken parmigiano, served with imported San Marzano tomatoes, and fresh Mozzarella cheese, to Grigliata, a grilled  New York Strip Steak, marinated in aged Italian olive oil, with mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables, ($28).

Salads, include an assortment of red and yellow beets with pistachios, arugula, and Robiola cheese, and Burrata, a soft-centered Mozzarella cheese served with roasted cherry tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, ($14).

Yes, you are welcome to order Spaghetti Alle Vongole with clams, in red or white wine sauce, Risotto Al Tartufo, with Arborio Rice, wild Mushrooms, Truffle oil and a touch of cream sauce, and house-prepared Lobster Ravioli, ($24). Desserts include pies, cake, and delicious house-prepared gelato.

“Our recipes are passed down from generation to generation,” said host Grande. “Sapori means flavors in Italian.  Using fresh tomatoes and oil produced on our own farms in Italy, we strive to bring out all of the special favors of our food.”

“Please watch for our Brunch Menu which should be on board for the new year,” he continued. “We will also be serving a Sunday Family Gravy Day.”

“We’re excited with the opening of Sapori Ristorante Italiano. We look forward to serving you, and your dear ones for many years to come.”

Restaurant:Sapori Ristorante Italiano, 622 Valley Road, Upper Montclair
Call: 973.744.0200
Hours:11:30 a.m. -10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to Midnight, Friday and Saturday; Noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
FYI: BYOB. Call for reservations. Open Thanksgiving Eve, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve. (Reservations suggested.) Specialties:Raw Bar. House-prepared fresh pasta, ravioli, and bread. Casually smart attire. Ample parking in the rear of the restaurant. Custom desserts from Little Daisy Bakery in Montclair.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone
May your holiday be filled with love, laughter, good food, great memories and a strong desire to do all that you want to do before the end of 2013.
The best to you and yours.
And please stay in touch!
Best to the Best!

Millicent K. Brody is an award-winning writer and photographer and a resident of Westfield, New Jersey.  Contact her at Mkbrody@aol.com

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TheAlternativePress.com or anyone who works for TheAlternativePress.com. TheAlternativePress.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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