Mark Papera, who opened the original Epernay on Park Street in Montclair, has purchased the restaurant (which closed in October) again. He will open it as Fricasseè French Bistro in February 2013.
Papera, a Verona native, opened Epernay about 10 years ago and served classic French bistro dishes. Think mussels, steak au poivre, friseè salad and rich desserts like crème brûlée, tarte tatin. Epernay received excellent reviews and was one of the most popular restaurants in NJ according to ZAGAT. In 2006, Papera sold the restaurant and moved to Ithaca, NY. He opened a French Bistro called Dijon and then moved on to work at the Thirsty Owl Winery Bistro. Fast forward to a couple of months ago when Papera saw Baristanet’s story on Epernay closing. “Baristanet gave me the heads up and I jumped on it, ” Papera told us.
Papera is moving his family back to town and after renovations to the restaurant, such as all new tile flooring, a new kitchen, design details, liked a striped awning, Papara plans to open Fricasseè French Bistro on February 1.
Papera is recently married and his wife’s grandmother collected roosters throughout her life, which now live in the Papera home. He says he can’t wait to get next door to the famous rooster and says we’ll see some of the rooster collection in the restaurant. “It feels good to be going home,” he said.