Verona Native’s Restaurant Gets NYTimes Review

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Mark Papera
Mark Papera

Mark Papera, the Verona native who is the chef/owner of Fricassee French Bistro in Montclair, probably smiled when he read the New York Times‘ Web site yesterday.

The Times‘ food critic gave Fricassee a rating of “good” and said, in part, that “it’s hard not to root for Mr. Papera”. Papera had been the owner and chef at Epernay, a previous restaurant on the site, but sold it and moved to upstate New York seven years ago. He returned to New Jersey and developed the new place in December 2012.

The Times clearly loved the new concept, saying:

Everything arrives in generous portions. Some dishes — like the terrific roast chicken, served with a heap of brussels sprouts, other vegetables and truffled macaroni and cheese — are filled to overflowing. Both the flaky monkfish, paired well with its bordelaise sauce, and the skate, nicely sautéed with butter, shallots, garlic, capers and lemon juice, were enormous. So was the pot-au-feu, a special one evening that delivered on its wintry virtues.

The tender strip steak was fine, too, but let’s linger on the cassoulet for a moment, since it showcases Mr. Papera’s best instincts. He combines four kinds of sausages — garlic, merguez, chorizo and duck — with slab bacon, short ribs, pork shank and duck confit. Then he slowly cooks white beans and tomato confit in the braising liquids, before putting it all together for baking with bread crumbs on top, giving this most hearty of French dishes a slightly crunchy top. It’s a worthy homage.

You can read the full review here.

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