‘Restaurant Gods are not ready to let me go:’ Costenara to stay open under new owners – NorthJersey.com

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NorthJersey.com takes a tour of the Montclair food scene.

Chef Juan Placencia, who was set to close his near-decade old Peruvian restaurant Costenara in Montclair on Feb. 29, has sold the restaurant to two employees who will keep the restaurant open and Costenara as a consulting chef for six months.

“It seems the restaurant Gods are not ready to let me go,” said Placencia, who recently closed Somos, his much bigger pan-Latin restaurant in North Arlington. 

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Chef de cuisine Walter Ajquijay and assistant manager Monica Mata bought the restaurant from Placencia with plans of revamping the lunch menu and offering breakfast, something the restaurant has not had before. “It’s Costenara 2.0,” Placencia said. The new owners take over March 1.

The dinner menu will stay the same — “100-percent Peruvian” — featuring bestselling dishes such as ceviche, chilled mussels with Peruvian salsa, grilled octopus salad with chimichurri aioli and lomo saltado, steak stir-fry, though more vegetarian and vegan dishes will be added, Placencia said.  

Breakfast and lunch will be, he said, similar to the breakfast and lunch served in nearby Raymond’s on Church Street and Marcel Bakery and Kitchen on Valley Road — with one major difference: the eats will sport Latin ingredients and spices. For example, instead of chocolate croissants, Costenara may offer croissants stuffed with Mexican hot chocolate. The new breakfast and lunch menus will be unveiled in six to eight months, Placencia said. 

Placencia said that Ajquijay, who hails from Guatemala, and Mata, who is from Mexico, were prompted to buy the restaurant after hearing “every day, at every service,” customers lament its expected closing. “They kept being asked, ‘Why is it closing?’, ‘Is the owner crazy?'” Placencia said. 

Costenara is located at 511 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair; 973-337-828, costaneranj.com/

 Esther Davidowitz is the food editor for NorthJersey.com. For more on where to dine and drink, please subscribe today and sign up for our North Jersey Eats newsletter.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @estherdavido 

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