by Raven Carmasi
There aren’t enough words of positivity when it comes to Hearth and Tap of Montvale, NJ. Opened in 1998, Fintan and Kelly have gone out of their way to bring the traditional Irish hospitality that they were raised with to Bergen county; along with pieces of Ireland that you just won’t find anywhere else – quite literally! Located 100 yards from the border near the Pearl River, Irish heritage runs strong, creating the perfect atmosphere for this local staple. Every aspect of the restaurant is doused in both personal and traditional inspiration from their home towns of Belfast and Carlow. Down to the studs, they have gone out of their way to make sure their authenticity is in tact. Aesthetically, the establishment is impeccably done with almost every piece attributed as a nod to Irish culture; including the fixtures, posts that came from a Belfast pharmacy and even an old pot still bringing their cigar bar to a new level.
The menu remains rooted in Irish cuisine even to go as far as to importing dulse (Galway seaweed) and using traditionally slow cooked meats, but maintains the feel of a polished yet casual pub environment which is both approachable and affordable. Their impactful cuisine can please any palette; from Irish sausage, herders pie (containing both lamb and beef) to the eclectic flatbread options from a stone pizza oven. Both Kelly and Fintan came from backgrounds in the service industry, bartending in the past. Because of this, they’ve spent a lot of time and effort creating a multifaceted, yet nostalgic bar and cocktail menu including an Irish coffee so popular that it calls for its own day – and sells by the hundreds!
Whether you’re looking for a night out with beer or wine tastings regularly, a place to sit back and enjoy quality cigars and premium cocktails or even take advantage of the 18 TVs and two projectors to watch the McGregor fights – Hearth and Tap is the place to be. Just don’t expect there to be Proper whiskey as you will not find a drop in the place! Rather, take advantage of the one hundred Irish whiskey options on hand (Kelly’s favorite being Red Breast) and the sixty scotch and American options available. Any of which can be made into a masterfully curated cocktail as whiskey is most definitely a passion for all here. If you are a fan of the classics, rather than risk inconsistency, cocktails like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned are barrel aged for eight weeks and bottled to create the perfect pour. And if you’re a beer connoisseur, be sure to explore the selection of over fifty craft beers available – be sure to take home a growler (which they will gladly deliver between 5-10pm!
If you haven’t taken the tour yet, don’t expect your typical restaurant and bar set up! This unique building maintains several options for your dining and leisure. The upstairs is dedicated to large parties and is consistently sought after for events holding up to one hundred people and offering customized menus. For a relaxed meal with a quaint surrounding, the dining room is perfect for a sit down and a delicious and innovative meal. For those who prefer a seat at the bar, you have more than one option including one right near the pizza oven and the other in the cottage which is closed off to maintain an old-world feel. Within the space, you can find a members only lounge that contains not only multitudes of cigars to suit your tastes but antiques and personal touches such as medals from Fintans’s own grandfather giving the space a truly comforting atmosphere. A rare aspect of this lounge is the ability to rent humidors to store your cigars safely, preserving them to their utmost capacity.
Of course, come Paddy’s, Hearth and Tap is flush with not only a day full of traditional fun to be had, but nine full days of options to celebrate the occasion – plenty of time to come in and celebrate between parades. March 14th through the 22nd, be sure to join the family for a full Irish menu – and not just your corned beef and cabbage! Take your palate to a new level with corned beef empanadas or enjoy the tastes you love like fish and chips. As a pregame before the big week, stop by for a Knappogue Irish whiskey pairing with dinner on March 11th. On the actual day, come in for an Irish breakfast bright and early at 8:00am that can’t be beat! Even take home some traditional Irish soda bread made from Fintan’s late mother, Clare’s exact recipe. Soon after, the festivities will begin with bagpipes and dancing, ringing in the holiday with every element of Irish sentiment.
Hearth and Tap prides themselves on their desire to welcome you to their family. Locally run and operated for the last twenty-two years, the establishment plans to be around for years to come. You might even see the little ones running around, Oisín and Aoífe. If you’re looking for a comfortable bar and restaurant that will feed your stomach as well as your soul, they’ve got everything you’re looking for.
Hearth & Tap Co. 125 N. Kinderkamack Road, Montvale 201.307.6300 hearthandtap.com