France and New Jersey seem as distinctly different as two places can get. The latter has miles of busy beaches, years of immigration history, and so many malls that it’s ingrained in our weekly to-dos. The former has grand avenues, Provençal charms, and a language spoken with so few letters pronounced that you’d say “get outta here” whenever you tried to understand it. But these two different places have come together over one shared love – food. Great ingredients and dedication to one’s culinary craft can collide into a delicious meal, no matter the place. While northern New Jersey doesn’t exactly conjure up thoughts of Paris, there are several restaurants and boulangeries that will send you to the City of Lights without leaving the state. Read on for the best French food spots in the Montclair area.
Bloom | 648 Bloomfield Avenue, Verona
(Photo credit: @bloomverona)
Bloom was founded in 2019 and voted the #1 Best New Restaurant in New Jersey by Yelp Reviews. New American cuisine meets French and Korean flavors in this stunning modern restaurant located on Bloomfield Avenue in Verona. Chef Woo and Chef Joann, the owners, met studying at New York’s French Culinary Institute, where their friendship grew out a passion for fusing different flavors, ingredients, and techniques. From short ribs to octopus, risotto to chicken wings, Bloom will introduce you to unexpected flavors mixed with French cuisine.
Cafe Matisse | 167 Park Avenue, Rutherford
(Photo credit: @cafe_matisse)
Cafe Matisse is inspired by the art of Henri Matisse and is an homage to the master French artist in both design and taste. The interior dining rooms are awash with brilliant hues, and the exterior courtyard is European-inspired. Dining here is unique, and not just because the setting is incredibly visual, but because every detail, from the food to the staff, is exceptional. Chef and owner Peter Lora create gourmet masterpieces: offerings look and taste like works of art. The menu changes with the seasons based on locally available ingredients and offers a mix of nouveau American and French-inspired eats. Honey-oven roasted beet salad will have you salivating, and the pan-roasted peppered lamb loin is just as delicious as it sounds. Though the fare is not specifically French, it has all the flair of Haute dining in Paris.
The restaurant offers two seatings each evening, and reservations are required. With a four-course tasting menu that changes each week and several options for each, Cafe Matisse is the perfect spot for all your celebratory meals, special occasions, and anniversaries.
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Délice Macarons | 19 Eastman Street, Cranford
(Photo credit: @delice__macarons)
French patisserie is dessert at the highest level. It is elaborate, solidly built yet delicate, and no easy feat. Often when we think of delicate pastries, we think of macarons, the almond flour, a dome-shaped delicacy made with few ingredients that combine into a tricky recipe to master. Macarons come in any color and flavor, but don’t be fooled, they’re not all created equally. Too dry, and the soft crusts will shatter. Too wet, and they won’t be airy when eaten. Perfection is hard to get right, but Délice Macarons does. The team gets it so right that Délice’s colorful creations are sold beyond the shop to other local businesses in the area.
Cranford might feel like an unusual place for the highest form of dessert, but Chef Pierre Chahine is an entrepreneur and a family man, settling down locally to be close to his relatives. With 20 plus years of working and learning in some of France’s most elite dessert institutions, you don’t want to miss a taste of his treats. And lucky for us, macarons aren’t the only things on offer. With a vast selection of specialty custom cakes, literal sculptures of icing and sugar, your jaw will drop before you even taste it. Just a look at the Gateau Aux Framboises A La Pistache will have you planning your next dinner party.
Faubourg | 544 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair
(Photo credit: @faubourgmontclair)
The cavernous location on Bloomfield Avenue appeared to be doomed for many years, thus, was the reality of store turnovers in the #544 space. This unexpected spot, sandwiched between a bank and a few vacant storefronts, isn’t exactly where you’d dream of Paris, but voila, the charm of France can appear in unexpected places.
Faubourg is the pinnacle of fine French dining. With a complete renovation and an interior that feels à New York, it is a restaurant for celebrations, those who want to be seen around town, and a quintessential happening place. But that’s just the vibe. Faubourg, the French word for a suburban neighborhood, is the venture of two French-born restauranteurs, now New Jersey locals with a combined experience of over three decades of working in the kitchens of New York’s most elite eateries. Their vision boils down to stupendous French food, locally sourced.
It’s hard to pick just a few items from the menu, but be sure to start with the gougères, a cheesy pastry that you can’t help but pop right into your mouth. Salads are light and crispy, while entrees are hearty but divine. With a side of vegetable fricassee and a sip of rosé, you’ll feel on top of the Tour Eiffel.
Latour | 6 E Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood
(Photo credit: Latour)
Classic French food with a twist is what Latour is all about. Named after Chef Michael Latour, who has many years of cuisine experience here and abroad, it is a high-end grille that offers traditional dishes like beef au Poivre, coq au vin, French onion soup, and crème brûlée. Online reviews rave about the experience, the service, and the food. So if you’re in the mood for an authentic taste of France, Latour is the ticket.
Le French Dad | 10 Church Street, Montclair
(Photo credit: @lefrenchdadboulangerie)
La baguette, reproduced by many but perfected by only the French, or the French in Montclair, as in this case. Welcome to Le French Dad, a classic, a small French bakery that makes crispy loaves of fig and walnut pain Campagne, pain au chocolat, and delicate fruit tarts. While the exterior, the bread taste of Rue Cler and are as authentically delicious. The baguette épi is easy to break apart for an impromptu picnic lunch, the fougasse is a Provençal favorite of those in the know, and all of the pastries are lightly crisped to perfection. The boulangerie also offers quiche and sandwiches, which will have you dreaming of afternoon walks in Les Tuileries. It’s no wonder Faubourg sources all the bread from the fellow countrymen down the block.
See More: Must-Try Hibachi Spots in North Jersey
Mo & Jay Pastry | 44 Main Street, Little Falls
(Photo credit: @mo_and_jay_pastry)
What’s more French than an eclair? The husband and wife team behind Mo & Jay Pastry has reinvented the decadent pâte à choux with modern flavors like birthday cake, Nutella, and cookies and cream. Though they are not French, the couple was classically trained en France and started their business out of their apartment in Hackensack. They run it as a family with young son Charlie as the resident taste tester. But an in-house kitchen was only the beginning for these two, who quickly became known for their baking abilities. The two gourmets use traditional cooking techniques to make eclairs, pastries, cookies, macarons, and madeleines worth swinging by for a taste.
Jayce Baudry | 17 Church Street, Montclair (Opening Soon)
(Photo credit: @jaycebaudryfrenchpastry)
This yet-to-be opened French pastry shop has already given Faubourg patrons a sneak peek at its special treats. Faubourg offered Baudry’s desserts during its mother’s Day take-out menu, and rumor has it the flavors and quality are simply beyond exception. We’re looking forward to the opening of the Church Street location! With Le French Dad and Faubourg around the corner, we’ll have our own corner of France in the center of town.
So whether you are in Paris or Montclair — you can find a piece of France in your backyard.