Just when you thought Montclair's restaurant scene couldn't get any better, Pig & Prince opens in the renovated Lackawanna Railroad Station facing Bloomfield Avenue.
Indeed, after sampling a wide range of dishes, it appears Chef Michael Carrino—who already had built a stellar reputation as the chef at Passionne—has another hit on his hands.
Located in a sprawling space that includes a bar and a tap room, Carrino said he closed Passionne last year so that he could funnel his energies into a larger locale that included a liquor license and room to grow.
The historic Lackawanna Railroad Station provides the perfect venue to accomplish both goals. Additionally, it is fitting that the resurrection of this beautiful space coincides with its centennial anniversary.
“We are not only excited to provide a venue where casual and elegant dining can co-exist, we are also happy to be a part of the redevelopment and restoration of a slightly forgotten area of town," Carrino said.
One look around the historic space and it's evident that Carrino and his business partner Serge Hunkins have paid careful attention to detail, creating an atmosphere that's both classy and welcoming and that's topped off with some lovely touches.
For example, at the restaurant's long bar, patrons can prop up their feet on a real rail from the original station.
That station was built in 1912 and designed by William Hull Botsford, a 25-year-old architect who died on the Titanic before construction began. Botsford’s work also included stations in Basking Ridge, Hopatcong, Watessing, Bloomfield, and Hoboken. The station also accommodated one of the original tracks featuring the electric train.
Besides the stunning interior, there's an impressive range of menu items that include dishes such as:
Single Steer Burger featuring an onion medley, prairie breeze cheddar house made pickle and zesty ketchup for $19
Jurgielewicz Duck Breast featuring cranberry beans and rice, charred shishito pepper vinaigrette for $25
Roast Venison featuring Jalapeno cornbread hush puppies and collard greens for $30
The imaginative list of starters includes foie gras, mussels, and marinated grilled octopus.
When it comes to drinks, there is a fun list dubbed "Lucky Seven Cocktails"—in addition to a nice selection of wine and beer—that includes a “Mexican Blitzkrieg," made up of a cinnamon-infused Tequilla, blood orange, and ginger ale.
Carrino, a previous winner of the Food Network's "Chopped," said he wanted to create a space that is attractive to families, couples, and singles.
Montclair Patch recently asked Carrino a few questions about Pig & Prince:
Q) So this is a gorgeous space. What was here before?
A) Hollywood Video left in 2006, around the same time I opened Passionné. Call it karma or call it luck, but I like to think it was waiting for me.
Q) Where did you get the liquor license?
A) We bought the liquor license that the landlord was holding. They purchased Charlie Brown's license after it went bankrupt last March.
Q) When did you officially open?
A) We opened to the public for a "soft opening" on August 24. We are now officially open and planning a grand re-introduction of the building/space in June. June 1913 is when the station opened. A centennial celebration is in order.
Q) Tell us about the menu.
A) The menu is diverse and covers a lot of ground, and we are constantly changing items as the season changes and the amazing fall produce is now becoming available. I believe the Elote and the Venison are of the best sellers and the foie gras poutine (cheese fries w/ foie gras gravy) are not far behind. The desserts are flying out the door thanks to our amazing pastry chef, Amanda Hartigan.
Q) You have a curing room that's visible to diners. Tell us about your meats.
A) We are blowing through the house cured-nitrate free-all natural meat. We are currently making Capicola, Sopressata, Prosciutto, Duck Prosciutto, Pancetta, Bresaola, Prosciutto Cotto, Bacon, Guanciale (bacon made from the jowl), Tete de Cochon (head cheese), smoked tounge, lamb sausage, venison sausage, boudin rouge (blood sausage with crawfish), and much more!
Pig & Prince
1 Lackawanna Plaza
Tuesday - Saturday
4pm - 1:30am
4pm - 12pm
Tuesday - Sunday
5pm - 10pm
For more information go here.