By Rich Bockmann
Sensuous flavors, enticing aromas and a jovial atmosphere combined to transform the ballroom at the Adria Hotel last week into one of the most eclectic restaurants in town at this year’s Taste of Bayside.
The Jan. 25 feast provided a dozen or so eateries with the opportunity to promote their signature dishes and gave hundreds of hungry epicureans the chance to nosh — at a bargain price — on casual cuisine, fine dining fare, elaborate desserts and no less than four different varieties of sliders.
“This is a great event. It introduces us to new people who have never heard of us and gives us the chance to reach out to our existing clientele,” said Dominick Bruccoleri, owner of Papazzio restaurant.
Bruccoleri is not only the restaurateur of a 22-year stalwart of the Bayside dining scene, but also the chairman of the Bayside Business Association’s Taste of Bayside Committee.
“The businesses that have been around for years draw people in, and that helps introduce people to new businesses,” he said.
The restaurant’s dishes, like the Tuscan chicken with sausage, onions and peppers in a light garlic sauce over a bed of fettuccine, were favorites with a number of attendees.
“For the second year in a row, Papazzio had the best food,” said state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside).
Bob Klein leapt out of his seat and yelled, “I got the best one!” when BBA President Judy Limpert announced he had won a gift certificate to Papazzio. Klein said he eats at the restaurant about once a week.
Mario Palermo, co-owner of the Palermo Salumeria, at 33-35 Francis Lewis Blvd., said business was slow, so he was hoping the event would bring in more customers. He served an Italian pork sausage on top of a rich garlic crostini.
In the back corner of the ballroom near the Tequila Sunrise table, the mariachi band Acapulco 90 provided an aural atmosphere in-between the restaurant’s frozen margarita machine and one of the event’s irresistible draws: the White Castle table.
The orange and blue boxes its famous slider hamburgers were served in were ubiquitous on patrons’ plates. The restaurant, on the corner of Northern and Bell boulevards, had prepared about 400 burgers, which employees could barely keep their table stocked with before people like John Brannan could snatch them up.
“They’re so enticing!” the Baysider said as he finished his fast-food fare in a few bites. “The first one was highly anticipated.”
Strawberry’s Sports Bar and Grill in Douglaston offered up its take on the slider: a tangy pulled-pork sandwich, the sweet aroma of which hung around the restaurant’s table.
Both Strawberry’s and the Local Bar and Grill on Bell Boulevard are relative newcomers to the area cuisine scene. The latter offered teriyaki chicken wings, shrimp ajilo and a crab cake slider.
“We’re mostly a bar, but we’re also a bar and grill,” said Local co-owner Javier Lorenzo. “Hopefully, we’ll attract some different age groups, not just young people drinking.”
Andrea Sparacio attended with her husband, Phillip, and the Fresh Meadows resident said the best thing she tasted throughout the evening was the meatball slider from the Safari Beach Club table.
Tickets for the event were $30 in advance and $35 at the door.
“It’s a good value for your money. It’s a great date night,” she said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.