Restaurant of the Week: Pola’s Mariscos

Pola’s Mariscos, 8801 Central Ave. (at Arrow), Montclair; open daily 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

I’d noticed Pola’s while driving along Central Avenue, in the aging center with Dolce Bistro, Tokyo Kitchen and more. Pola’s took over a long-vacant Quizno’s whose sign’s ghost image could be easily read even years after its departure.

While no expert on Mexican seafood, mariscos sounded appealing, and a new restaurant in Montclair is almost news in itself. So I arranged to meet a friend for lunch there. I could accurately say this took place on a cold, blustery day, even though this was in the middle of January rather than any time in the four weeks since then, which have largely been just as dismal.

It’s a simple operation with a short menu. I got the campechana ($12.50), with shrimp, octopus, tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado.

The seafood, simply prepared, tasted fresh and of the sea. Does the serving look large in the stemmed glassware? It was. It was all I could do to finish it.

My friend got Reyna’s mix ($13.50), with shrimp, octopus, crab (hence the extra $1), cucumbers and tomatoes. He pronounced himself equally satisfied and stuffed.

The menu has aguachile, shrimp cocktail, molcajete and tostadas, plus menudo on weekends, but no tacos or burritos.

We were given crisp tostadas as accompaniment, plus ketchup, mayonnaise and hot sauce. The staff was friendlier than the norm. Pola’s is a nice place.

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  • DebB

    Darn! I just drove by that center last week, thinking about lunch. Wish I’d known about this place (or noticed it like you did). I’ll need to go back and try it soon. And BTW, I’ve been LOVING this weather! Not dismal to me at all!

    • davidallen909

      Let us know what you think of Pola’s, and I’m glad someone has been enjoying this cold, wet weather! Some do, I know, for the change or for other reasons. I don’t share it, but I get it. For me, the cold days and nights and frequent rain have coincided with my being out sick or at half-strength, and thus kind of a drag.

  • Bob House

    For those of us who don’t even want to see it, let alone eat it, what is the baseline taste/texture of octopus?

    • davidallen909

      It’s dry, firm and chewy, best as usually served, which is in small pieces.

      • SAWZ

        I think you saved me from trying it–flavor, good or bad, isn’t part of the description–makes me think of gristle.

        • davidallen909

          Good point about flavor! It doesn’t have a strong taste; it’s more that it adds texture. It’s not like gristle!

    • Richard_Pietrasz

      Octopus tastes and feels a lot like squid when you eat them. There are many different species of octopi, and of squid, so do not be surprised if the difference in taste and texture is due being oct v sqi versus how it is prepared, which leads to DA’s comment on dry; I have had either dryk

      Jellyfish, which is not fish, tastes and feels in the mouth much differently than squid and octopus.

      Bon appetit.