Montclair, NJ – It’s having an official opening Thursday, but Meet Me At Madison’s, a new cafe bistro at Watchung Plaza that opened at the end of November, is already fast becoming one of Montclair’s culinary gems.

Their motto is “Time Beautifully Filled” and we can’t think of a better place to spend some time, whether it’s enjoying the incredible dinner we had recently with friends or a spending a lazy afternoon with a latte paired with one of their amazing pastries, all baked on the premises (do not miss the pistachio croissant!).

Pistachio croissant – one of countless pastry options.

Sit down in the light, welcoming dining room with its modern wave ceiling or take a moment in the window nook where books by Stanley Tucci and comfy chairs make you want to to linger longer, and you’ll see how much thought and love has been put into creating the space.

Meet Me At Madison’s

Meet Me At Madison’s is all in the family. The restaurant gets its name from Madison Sanchez, a Montclair High School student, and daughter of Madeline and Rigo Sanchez.

“The restaurant was mostly designed by my mother Madeline,” says Madison, adding that her mom has a natural talent for designing and loves anything modern.

“My dad and our amazing architect Genaro are responsible for designing our beautiful hand-made wave ceiling that adds a unique touch to the place,” says Madison. “They did a lot of research with European design and wanted to create art similar to nature. The space has a lot of Latin influences as well as all the beautiful art you see on the walls.”

Her dad Rigo has always had an interest in collecting Dominican art; many of those pieces have found their way to the shelves in the cozy window nook.

Eclectic and Delicious

When it came to the fusion menu, the credit goes to chef Saverio Stassi, a Venezuelan/Italian chef who has traveled around the world and currently has a restaurant Ajuala in the capital of the Dominican Republic.

Red Sea Ceviche

“When my parents and I first visited his restaurant for a tasting we were beyond impressed with his creativity and attention to detail,” says Madison. “We were moved by how he managed to include his worldly experience within everything he cooks while still giving it that personal touch.”

Madison and her family worked with Stassi and his team to curate the menu so it offers something for every palate.

“The menu caters to Western tastes but also gives a refreshing Latin taste that is different from anything I’ve ever experienced. As we progress, we will be incorporating more special options to continue to celebrate our culture and love for all kinds of food,” she adds.

Mondello Branzino

The menu is both eclectic and delicious. The breakfast menu features everything from pancakes and eggs Benedict to an oat milk panna cotta with berries and granola and a bacon truffled grilled cheese.

Order the Red Sea Ceviche ($16.50), featuring mahi mahi, lime, tiger’s milk, cilantro and crunchy corn cakes and the Mondello Branzino — grilled branzino, toasted garlic, Swiss chard, baby potatoes and tapenade ($29.50), two dishes at dinner that were standouts. Equally impressive was how well the service was for a restaurant just getting started.

“Our family is just myself, my dog Coco [who is also featured on the whimsical outside signage], and my parents,” says Madison. “As for the name, and inspiration behind the restaurant, my parents would tell you they did it for me and my family’s future. I am their only child and I believe they wanted to leave me something I could learn from and expand on. I could never express the amount of gratitude I have for them. I love this restaurant because I know it was a project we created together. The main inspiration was our family life, our love for traveling, Latin culture, new experiences, and trying new things.”

Go have some quality time – try something new at Meet Me At Madison’s.

Shakshuka eggs and cold pressed juice.

Meet Me at Madison’s, 121 Watchung Avenue, Montclair, 973-604-2221. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.