Could 'Gallery Bistro' be Clifton's Best Kept Culinary Secret?

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Some restaurants are saved for special occasions — anniversaries, birthdays, or special date nights, and there are others that are as comforting and welcoming as eating at your best friend’s home. Gallery Bistro is that kind of place. A BYOB pizza and Italian food establishment lovingly run by head chef and owner Julian. Although Julian is a native of Columbia, his Italian food is on par with some of the best Italian restaurants in Montclair, but at value prices that will make you come back again, and again. Gallery Bistro is not a fancy restaurant, but it is clean and homey and consistently over delivers on food quality and taste.

The Soup Master

Soup at a pizza restaurant? Absolutely. At Gallery Bistro, Julian’s soups are individually made-to-order and worth every minute you’ll need to wait for them. Available in two sizes: a small which is big by virtually any standard, and a large that is practically big enough to take a swim in. Don’t miss the Cream of Mushroom Soup, with huge slices of fresh mushrooms and a creamy, flavorful broth you will dream about after you get home.

Steaming hot and jam-packed with shrimp, mussels, calamari, and bits of salmon, the Creamy Seafood Soup is a perfect blending of flavors. So hot, that even down to your last few spoonfuls it’s still going to warm your insides on a cold winter's night, with the perfect sprinkling of spice that is set off by a touch of sweet corn kernels. If you’re a seafood lover… don’t miss this one.

These soups are basically a meal all on their own. Split a salad or sandwich with a friend and you’re likely to still have food leftover to take home.

Pastas, entrees, specials, and more

Confession: I’ve been a frequent patron of Gallery Bistro for years (dating back to when it used to be called Julian’s) and I have never even tried their pizza. Not even one time. The reason? Because everything else is SO good.

Their Penne alla Vodka is amazing (and available with your choice of added chicken or shrimp if you so desire). The sauce is so good, in fact, that Julian offers it for sale by the container (just ask)!

Chicken Francaise — Chicken breast sautéed with white wine, lemon, and butter, with a side of vegetables and your choice of pasta or salad.

Flounder Oreganata — Breaded oven-baked flounder dressed with white wine, lemon juice, grated cheese, garlic, and parsley, served over rice with veggies, or with a side of salad or pasta.

On days that Gallery Bistro offers ‘Specials of the Day’ try them. Julian’s innovative creations are usually not to be missed. One former ’Special of the Day’ is so good that I’ve been encouraging Julian to add it to the regular menu for months. It’s a homemade tortellini pasta in a champagne sauce with baby shrimp and it’s so incredibly good, you’ll swear you’re at a high-end restaurant. If you ask Julian very nicely, he’ll probably make it for you upon request — tell him Kim recommended it.

Like many other small businesses, the labor shortage has hit Gallery Bistro hard, and if you visit during the week or on off hours, there’s a possibility that Julian may be running the kitchen, answering the phones, and waiting the tables himself. It only endears him even more to me for his incredible work ethic and dedication to make sure his business thrives.

Located in Downtown Clifton, at the corner of Main and Luddington Avenues, Gallery Bistro is open for lunch, dinner, private parties, catering, take out, and delivery. Check out their website for the full menu at www.gallerybistromenu.com.

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