Breakfast in Belmont: Monticello Grill ups the ante

We know from the constant crowds and overflowing patio that you love Mas, but did you know that Belmont should have a second new restaurant by mid-October?

This time it's more turn-of-the-century Americana than tasty Mediterranean tapas. But that could be just what mechanics, Monticello tourists, Piedmont students, and residents of Belmont need to fill the breakfast and lunch gap.

Back in May, Jeff Cotten, owner of Master's Auto Body, bought the 1930s white house on the corner of Monticello Road and Carlton Avenue (across the street from his shop). With eyes on big improvements to the entire corner, Cotten has since completely gutted the two-story building, which has housed a few mom-and-pop markets and delis over the past 30 years, most recently Shipp's Store.

The novice restaurateur envisions The Monticello Grill, which will be decorated entirely with nostalgia-producing antiques from the early 1900s (lots of wood and brass) and accents like bottled drinks on ice in old barrels, root beer on draft, and an original, functioning 10-cent Coca-Cola machine, as a warm, friendly place to enjoy homemade food and great service from early morning through mid-afternoon.

"I want people to have a great experience here," Cotten says. Fresh brewed coffee, complete and wholesome breakfasts, authentic barbeque sandwiches, burgers, and a particularly impressive dessert menu should make this a place to watch. We certainly will.


The Baker's Palate

 If the scent is still fresh, you'll remember a tempting tidbit we left a few weeks back about the possibility of a new bakery going into the renovated Gleason's Building on Garrett Street, just one space over from the newly opened barkery, Sammy Snacks. You can stop your whining now, because this week we're prepared to give up the details-­ or at least the major ingredients.

Sheila Cervelloni, owner-pastry chef of The Baker's Palate told Dish on July 11 that she just signed a lease on a 1,500-square-foot space, which she hopes to start transforming into a full-fledged bakery and retail shop as soon as she can land an available contractor.

Cervelloni, who has pastry-chefed in high-end restaurants in San Francisco and Aspen, started her own wholesale bakery, Starbake, here a year ago. When Starbucks found out about her plans to open a retail space a while back, they basically bullied her into changing her small, locally owned and operated business's name to something that couldn't potentially be mistaken for that of a mega coffee conglomerate.

The Baker's Palate it is! In addition to her stand at the City Market on Saturdays, where her sugar-and-cinnamon dusted donuts disappear as quickly as she and her husband-partner Tom Cervelloni can make 'em, Cervelloni's breakfast pastries and desserts are gobbled on a daily basis at cafés around town like Java Java and Higher Grounds.

Why the need for a retail space? "I've been wanting to do pastries since I was a little girl," Cervelloni tells Dish, "plus I've had a phenomenal response from wholesalers and everyone at the City Market-­ so it was a way to satisfy both my ego and my lifelong dream!"

Cervelloni was looking for a spot downtown that wouldn't compete with those cafés already showcasing her delicious wares. With new retail spaces on the ground floor (not to mention across the street) and 11 condos planned for the second floor, the Gleason's Building ended her search in an instant. "We forecast that this will be a very positive place to be," she says of her bakery's future home.

Though she's not yet clear about the possibility of seating, Cervelloni says The Baker's Palate will offer a full-fledged bakery with everything from wedding and birthday cakes to sandwiches made to order on her homemade focaccia bread. Seems like Starbucks could only benefit from any name confusion with this bakery. Their loss, it seems, will be our gain. If all goes as planned, you should be able to follow your nose to the Gleason's Building by September.