Ilson Gonçalves is the owner of Samba, a popular Brazilian Eatery in Montclair, NJ and the author of The Samba Montclair Cookbook. He opened Samba in Montclair, NJ in December 2010 as a deli with a few Brazilian specials. Today, the menu is a reflection of the authentic cooking he grew up eating at his mother’s home and restaurant in Blumenau, Brazil. Simple, high integrity, with emphasis on fresh vegetables, fish and herbs, served in a romantic, rustic space with antique copper pots & vintage tableware. Ilson took time off his busy schedule to chat with Suburbs 101. He shares with us his favorite restaurants in Montclair, NJ and NYC.
Eat Where the Chefs Eat is a column where local Chefs and food industry insiders share their favorite restaurants in the New York metro area. Learn where your favorite chefs go when they aren’t in their own kitchens!
What’s your favorite restaurant in Montclair NJ or in the area?
My favorite local place other than Samba is Mighty Quinn’s BBQ in Clifton, NJ. It’s near my gym and I go there whenever I can. I love their brisket, spare ribs, they have amazing Brussels sprouts and coleslaw. Everything is delicious!
Mighty Quinn BBQ at 850 NJ-3, Clifton, NJ- 973-777-8340
What’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?
My favorite NYC restaurant is Salinas in Chelsea, which serves modern authentic Spanish cuisine. I always get their tasting menu for special occasion dinners, it’s different every time.
Salinas 136 9th Avenue, New York, NY 212-776-1990
Tell me more about Samba Montclair? What is your favorite dish at your restaurant?
Samba Montclair serves authentic, farm-to-table homestyle Brazilian fare that’s hard to find in our area. I serve the food that I grew up on, and the way I want to eat now. I’ve evolved my menu over the years, incorporating flavors and techniques I learned on my travels throughout Europe, North Africa and Asia.
My favorite dish on the Samba menu is Estroganofe de Alcatra, or Beef Stroganoff: little strips of beef, fresh cream, mushrooms and tomatoes topped with matchstick potatoes. Some people are surprised that it’s on the menu but in Brazil it’s a hugely popular dish!
Samba Montclair at 7 Park Street, Montclair, NJ- 973-744-6764
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