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SAMBA Montclair, Montclair, NJ, USA Print E-mail
Camarao Na Moranga  - Samba Montclair -photo by Luxury Experience
We had an amazing dinner at SAMBA Montclair owned by Chef Ilson Gonçalves and located in Montclair, New Jersey where he took our palates on a fabulous "journey to Brazil" without the need for a passport! Chef Ilson Gonçalves deftly captures the flavors of his native Brazil at his gorgeous gluten-free restaurant, SAMBA Montclair, so If a trip to Brazil is not on the immediate horizon, you can still take your palate there by having lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch at the restaurant. 

 

Samba Montclair, NJ USA
Samba Montclair

Brazil is a country close to our hearts and before COVID-19 restrictions, we would visit annually as we have many friends that have become "family" there. With travel restrictions still in place, we have had severe "saudades" (which means "longing" in Portuguese) for Brazil. When we heard about Chef Ilson Gonçalves' Brazilian restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey, we knew that we had to experience it. We had a fantastic dinner at the restaurant on Saturday, April 10, 2021.

Samba Montclair - Montclair, NJ USA

SAMBA Montclair opened in December 2010 and expanded to its stunning new space in 2020.  The décor at SAMBA Montclair is stylishly chic, sleek, and sexy with a whimsical touch with a large-scale mural of Carmen Miranda, a Brazilian icon, gracing one wall. The restaurant has two dining spaces, a smaller room where vintage copper molds add interest to a wall, and a larger dining room with a soaring 14-foot ceiling accented with a wood leaf-shaped ceiling fan. Two large fig trees positioned on butcher block tables at the entrance provide a touch of the Mata Atlántico (tropical forest) of Brazil. Vintage photographs in rustic wood frames and framed mirrors positioned over a long wood table take the patrons on a visually exciting tour of Brazil.

Edward F. Nesta - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Cheers from Samba Montclair

Woven chandeliers accented with dried baby's breath and pink roses, and a canopy of baby's breath accented with pink roses intertwined with a string of lights along one side of the dining room add romantic charm. Dark wood tables were dressed in round woven placemats and woven pillows placed along the long wood banquette added comfort and brought a touch of Brazil to Montclair. Passionate about every aspect of the restaurant from the food to the décor, Chef Ilson Gonçalves, has created a welcoming and gorgeous space.

Pao de queijo - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Pão de Queijo

SAMBA Montclair is a certified 100% gluten-free restaurant (the only one in New Jersey) and has many vegan and vegetarian items on the menu to appeal to diverse palates. We began our gastronomic "taste-buds journey to Brazil" with pão de queijo, a typical Brazilian cheese roll, presented as 3 cheese rolls served warm from the oven in a small black cast iron skillet lined with a napkin and served with butter. Light, airy, and delectable, they were the perfect "first taste" of Brazil.

Fresh Juices - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Fresh made juices

Brazil is renowned for their fresh juices (sucos), and the restaurant had a fabulous selection of freshly made juices including Coconut Lemonade, Strawberry and Mint, and Pineapple and Mint, all garnished with fresh mint and served in mason jars with paper straws. We tried one of each to pair with our entradas (appetizers) of Bolinho de Vegetais (vegan pastries made with yuca (mandioca) filled with corn, squash, and spinach, and Salgadinhos Sortidos (assorted appetizers) consisting of 3 hot pastries, chicken (coxinha), cheese (bolinho de queijo), and beef, (rísoles de carne) served with vegan cilantro mayo and presented on banana leaf-lined small black cast iron skillets. With each bite, we had delicious memories of being in Brazil.

Salgadinhos - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Salgadinhos Sortidos
(Assorted Appetizers)

We continued with a Salada (salad) with halved avocados, mozzarella balls, red, yellow, and Kumata cherry tomatoes, garnished with thinly sliced winter radish, pea shoots, drizzled with olive oil, and beautifully presented on a round plate encircled with a balsamic glaze.

Salad - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Salada (salad) 

Our next taste was polvo (octopus) which had a perfect crispy exterior that was melt-in-your-mouth wonderful, presented on a bed of butter beans, sliced Peruvian purple potatoes, spinach, and garnished with pea shoots and edible pansies. This dish showcased Chef Ilson Gonçalves culinary artistry that fully delivered on the palate what it promised visually.

Octopus - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Polvo (octopus) 

We continued with a selection from the Peixe (Fish) section of the menu with Camarão Na Moranga (Shrimp in a cream sauce presented in an acorn squash), which is one of our favorite Brazilian dishes that has very fond memories for us, as our friends always make it for us whenever we visit Brazil. The presentation always "wows" as an acorn squash is hollowed out, with the shrimp presented in a rich creamy sauce with squash, herbs, and topped with parmesan cheese.

Camarao Na Moranga - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Camarão Na Moranga
(Shrimp in a cream sauce)

Next there was a selection from the Vegano (Vegan) section of the menu consisting of Gnocchi Á Primavera, which was housemade yuca gnocchi with halved Brussels sprouts, sliced carrots, green beans, served in a rich sauce, and garnished with pea shoots and edible pansies. We especially loved the taste and texture of the yuca gnocchi, which was different from traditional gnocchi made with flour and mashed potatoes.

Gnocchi - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Gnocchi Á Primavera

We also had a selection from the Carne (Beef) section of the menu, with Picanho Ao Alho E Oleo, which was also delicious and consisted of Brazilian cut top sirloin steak served with creamy mashed potatoes and accompanied with halved Brussels sprouts, sliced carrots, and green beans.

Picanho Ao Alho E Oleo - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Picanho Ao Alho E Oleo
(Brazilian cut top sirloin steak)

We ended the evening on a delightfully sweet note by sampling several of the homemade and delicious desserts including Mousse de Maracujá (passionfruit mousse), Manjar de Coco com Calda de Ameixa (coconut pudding with prune sauce), Pudim de Leite (flan caramel), Bolo de Mandioca (flourless yuca cake served with dulce de leche and passion fruit sauce). and Torta Vegana, a vegan cheesecake with pecans, dates, and blueberries. Paired with steaming cups of black coffee, it was the perfect finale to a memorable evening of Brazilian cuisine in Montclair, New Jersey.

 

Desserts - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Mouse de Maracuja (passionfruit mousse),
Pudim de Leite (flan caramel)
Manjar de Coco com Calda de Ameixa
(coconut pudding with prune sauce)

bolo de Mandioca - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Bolo de Mandioca
(flourless yuca cake)

 

SAMBA Montclair is open for Lunch from Monday through Friday from 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm, for Dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:00 pm until 9:30 pm, Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm until 8:00 pm, and for Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm. The restaurant is BYOB for wine and champagne only.

Vegan Cheesecake - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Vegan Cheesecake

Read more about SAMBA Montclair  in the Chefs' Recipes  section for the interview with Chef Ilson Gonçalves, and who graciously provides his recipe for Camarão Na Moranga.

Chef ilson Goncalves, Debra C. Argen - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
Debra C. Argen and Chef Ilson Gonçalves

Read more about Chef Ilson Gonçalves' cookbook, The Samba Montclair cookbook  in the Luxury Products - Gifts  section.

Until next time, Bon Appetit!

Samba Montclair, NJ USA

SAMBA Montclair
7 Park Street
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
United States
Telephone: +1-973-744-6764
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: www.sambamontclair.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sambamontclair/
Instagram: @sambamontclair
Twitter: @sambamontclair 

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