Time for Dinner at Joe Bartonis

Joe Bartonis
151 Valley Road
Montclair, NJ, 07042
973-746-6700

Joe Bartonis deli has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood near Valley and Walnut Streets. In its short time there it has become a go to shop for not only sandwiches and pizza but homemade Italian pastas like gnocchi and linguine.

We were headed for the “other” Italian place across Valley but over the last couple of months there’s been a “Now Open for Dinner” sign out front so we decided to see what exactly dinner constituted at a deli this past Saturday.

Initially, we thought we’d be eating deli style, either out on Bartoni’s terrace or in the sparse dining area in the back but Bartoni’s does a nice job of turning the deli area into a dining room. The front of the place is still very utilitarian but chair coverings and table cloths do the trick out back.

Joe Bartonis is all about hospitality and before we had a chance to look at the menu a basket of bread and plate of olives and tapanade were promptly delivered. The free apps are what we’ve come to expect from Joe’s. The bread was spot on and the eggplant tapenade stood out. We’ll be looking for a jar of at our next gathering at home.

For starters, we had a warm mozzarella antipasto, which was fresh and melted in the mouth.

There were several dishes on the main menu that looked extraordinary and most were reasonably priced between $10 and $20. However, we decided to go with two specials. A gnocchi in olive oil and butter and a pan roasted salmon.

If you’ve bought the gnocchi that Bartoni’s sells in bags at the store than you know this is a house specialty and C, who is a fan of gnocchi in general, was impressed. The dish is on the lighter side of some of the gnocchi dishes found in town, which is good for those with smaller appetites.

I was a little hesitant about the salmon. It’s the only fish on the menu, which usually means frozen, but if it was, Bartonis did a good job of dressing it up. The pan friend fillet came with greens, potatoes and fried and crusted onions.

For dessert, we went with coffee and tea, which is notable only that the $2 cup of coffee comes in a cup that’s worthy of the price.

The only flaw in Joe Bartoni’s dinner game is that they are still a deli that serves dinner and not the other way around. We weren’t offered a seat out on the terrace when we walked in, which would be forgivable except that Bartoni’s terrace is off to the side and out of view.

Most likely this was a flaw of omission. The staff is friendly and chatty though some of that had to do with the fact we were the only diners inside. Not a good sign for the dinner experiment but the outside area was full.

We don’t know if this will work for the eatery. They have long-established and tough competition across the street. But we’ll be rooting for them since the quality and variety of food is some of the best we’ve had in awhile.

JC

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