FirstbiteClowns, classical music, a skateboarding demo. . .the First Night folks seemed to have thought of everything, except for who’s going to feed us? Whether you want to feast, nosh or do something in between, we’ve taken the liberty of recommending dining spots close to all the First Night action. From foie gras to fried chicken, we’ve got you covered. Let us know where you are planning to go, so those who can’t get a sitter can live vicariously through you.

Gourmand Central

Fascino, the darling of Montclair’s foodophiles, amazingly has some seating space available for New Years Eve. According to Chef Ryan DePersio, seatings at 5:30 or 6 pm are still available (granted it’s early, but you’ll finish in time to catch the opening ceremonies on Church Street). The three-course gastronome’s delight ($65) includes an array of truffles, foie gras, lobster, squab and exotic produce. Call 973-233-0350 to claim your chairs.

Not to be outdone, Demetris, that dependable Mediterranean, is offering a five-course tasting menu for $75. Two seatings are available, at 7 pm and 9:30 pm. 973-746-2233.

If French fare floats your boat, Epernay on Park Street, is offering a three-course (appetizer, entrée, dessert) prix-fixe menu for $48.50 (wonder what that extra 50 cents buys you?), with seatings staggered throughout the night. (973) 783-0447.

Palazzo (on South Fullerton near Church Street) covers all the bases with two fixed menu options: a five-course menu for $85 and three courses for $65. Both feature ostrich and filet mignon as entrees. If you’re on the fence, the five-course comes with a champagne toast, party hats and noisemakers. 973-746-6778

Casually Cool

Arguably the best vantage point (First Night’s opening ceremonies kick off in front of the restaurant) Church Street Caf√ɬ© is prepared to party until its 2005. Open from lunch through to dinner, the cafe switches from the regular menu to a gala party starting around 8:30 pm, with live music. Reservations recommended; 973-233-0216

They’re not publicizing it yet, but Raymond√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s has opened for dinner again and the plan is to be open New Year√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Eve night. 973-744-9623

Indigo Smoke will serve up their signature lip-smacking ribs and magical sweet potatoes to guests who arrive by 10 p.m. Mmmm…pass the cornbread. 973-744-3440

Crockett’s Fish Fry is open until 11 pm; get here early as this local fave fills up fast. 973-746-2114.

Booze Enhanced

Want to consume mass quantities? It’s hard to beat the deal at South Park Bar & Grill. For 50 clams a person, there’s a free buffet from 9:30 to 11:30 and open bar all night (until last call at 1:40 am). Shot specials, as well as a DJ and dancing, ensure a wild night many will have trouble remembering. 973-744-0402

Spend a little more and party at Just Jake’s with New Power Soul. Starting at 9 pm, it’s $75 a person; open bar and free buffet are included. 973-655-8987

There’s no cover to party at Office Bar & Grill; the regular menu will be used and a DJ and champagne toast rounds out the evening’s festivities. 973-783-2929

Feeling flush? Trek over to Richie Cecere’s, where you can sit upstairs, here the band, feast on a five-course dinner, all for a $150 a person. Not so flush? The same package without the band costs $100 a person on the main floor or in the wine cellar. 973-746-7811

Diva Lounge (apologies to Cooleristas) offers a premium open bar from 9 p.m. to midnight, DJ Vinny V, hors d’oeuvres, light buffet and a no-wait in line promise, all for $100 per person. 973-509-3000.

Ethnic and Eclectic

Tuptim Thai will offer its regular menu with a few specials; parties of three or more would be smart to make reservations. Same goes for Thai Chef.

Top Notch (German food is so scarce these days, it’s become ethnic) on Bloomfield Ave., starts the evening a la carte. From 9:30 to midnight, reservations are suggested for a five-course dinner ($40, include party favors) with entertainment. 973-746-5699

Déjà Vu is open with a special prix-fixe dinner and their regular Thai-French fusion menu. 973-233-1126

Sesame, on Bloomfield Ave, will be open to accommodate first niters. This tablecloth Chinese will feature its regular menu; a liquor store next door is an added convenience. 973-746-2553

Mexicali Rose will be open to ring in the New Year, offering free chips and chili con queso dip from 6 pm to midnight, as well as blending margaritas (bring your tequila!) and serving all your favorites. 973-746-9005

Mesob, the area’s only Ethiopian, is open and planning something special. When we know, you’ll know.

Mango’s Reggae Café will have live music and two-fixed menu options for either $40 or $70 a couple (now that’s a deal!). 973-744-7770

Liberte is offering a four-course prix-fixe for $49.50 (we’re intrigued by a dessert with Grey Goose-marinated strawberries) or an abbreviated a la carte menu. 973-746-8840

In addition to its regular menu, Sushi Hana will offer a five-course dinner from the kitchen ($29.95) or a five-vourse dinner from the sushi chef ($35.95). Open to midnight; walk-in welcome. 973-746-3900

Warm up with something curry at Natraj on Bloomfield. The quaint Indian will be open with either its regular menu or a special buffet.

That’s Italian

The usual suspects are on the menu at Osteria Giotta, as well as some inspired specials. Make a reservation or try and squeeze in; last seating is 11 p.m. 973-746-0111

Leone’s isn’t deviating from its usual pasta-plentiful offerings, but this family-friendly spot with its killer pizzas is a good spot for parents to bring circus-weary kids to carb load. Last seating is 11 pm. 973-509-9077

La Giada on Bloomfield will offer a slightly abbreviated, a la carte menu and seating in two-hour time slots with the last being at 10 pm. 973-783-3700

Sing your way into 2005 at Al Di La on Bloomfield. The subterranean southern Italian will offer a special celebration dinner. 973-783-0700.

Cheap Eats

Pizza: Villa Victoria (on Park St.), open until 9 pm.

The Roost (Bloomfield Ave) hours TBA

Subway (Bloomfield Ave): open until 8:30 pm.

Golden River (Bloomfield Ave.) open until 11:30 for Chinese take-out or eat in.

Starbucks (Bloomfield Ave.) open until 1 a.m. for hot chocolate and java junkies.

Crown’s Fried Chicken

Quizno’s Subs

Notable Closings:

Don’t come a knockin’, they won’t be open late for First Night revelers:

Café Eclectic (closing at 5 pm)

Soda Pop Shop (although they will be open New Year’s Day and giving out free ice cream for their anniversary)

Arthur’s Charbroil (closed for vacation)


Greek Delights (closing early)

Extraordinaire (Jamaican) closed for vacation

Liz George is the publisher of Montclair Local.

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