Restaurant of the Week: Cafe Moderno

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Cafe Moderno, 9197 Central Ave. (at Moreno), Montclair

The former Theo’s Cafe in the Montclair East center east of Montclair Plaza was, if memory serves, a Greek-owned coffee shop in fairly traditional mold but with a few specialties. It closed after a long run in 2014 and was overhauled to become Cafe Moderno.

It’s gone pretty much all Greek, with gyros, spanakopita, dolmades, souvlaki and baklava, plus a few Lebanese items such as hummus, falafel and baba ghanoush. (They also have a few spaghettis and a hamburger.)

A friend and I met there for lunch. The menu has wraps, salads, sandwiches and entrees, plus beer and espresso. You order at the counter. Our food arrived within minutes.

I got chicken souvlaki ($10), skewered cuts of seasoned chicken with bell peppers and onions. This came with two sides; I chose rice pilaf and grilled vegetables. The result was tasty and filling, not to mention relatively healthy.

My friend got a Caesar salad ($5), which he liked as is; you can add items like chicken or salmon for another $3 to $4.

The interior is, dare I say it, modern, and possibly moderno. It’s nothing fancy, but the booths are comfortable and the hanging lights chic. A steady crowd came and went at lunchtime. “I like the environment,” my friend said. “It’s nice and clean. The food came out quick. I’d come back.”

Me too. In fact, two days later I was back for lunch. (I needed a photo of the exterior because on my first visit it was pouring rain. And since I was going to be there anyway…) I got the gyro wrap ($6.65) with chicken orzo soup ($2). As a gyro fan, I liked this version; the tzatziki sauce was especially minty. The restaurant was nearly full this time.

There aren’t enough Greek restaurants in the area. It’s good to have one — and freeway-close, too.

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  • Joanne Dallas

    This is a favorite place. We missed Theo’s and were happy that Moderno kept a version of the famous Theo’s Salad. We usually get take out, but agree that the interior is pleasant and clean. The food is quite good and well prepared. There’s a nice variety for my vegetarian friend and lots of choices for me. Convenient lunch place.

    • davidallen909

      Good to hear from someone who knew Theo’s better than I did. Thank you for pointing out the Theo’s Salad on the menu.