New restaurants flock to Queens Taste 2014

By Alex Robinson

From Portuguese paella to Turkish delight, foodies will get to sample dishes that are as diverse as the borough they’re from at this year’s Queens Taste.

More than 800 people are expected to attend the annual food-and-networking event, which will serve cuisine from more than 50 Queens restaurants.

“We have a pretty good diversity this year,” said Rob MacKay, of the Queens Economic Development Corp., which organizes the event. “In previous years it’s been heavy on Italian restaurants and this year we have a better selection.”

A number of the restaurants that usually participate in Queens Taste had to cancel this year because of the economic toll the harsh winter took on their establishments, MacKay said.

“It was really cold so not as many people were going out,” he said. “We usually have a couple restaurants drop off, but it was a little bit surprising this year to have so many restaurants not do it again.”

More than 10 restaurants who served food in Queens Taste last year decided not to come back, but this opened spots for a diverse array of new participants.

Among them are Pa-Nash, a new Rosedale restaurant that serves what it calls “Euro Soul” food, the fusion of Mediterranean and Moroccan cuisine with Caribbean and soul food influences.

Other newcomers include Cypriot restaurant Zenon Taverna and a Long Island City gastro pub called Dutch Kills Centraal.

On top of all the savory choices, there will be a wide range of desserts and pastries.

The event, held at Citi Field in past years, will take place at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, at 135-20 39th Ave. in Flushing, Tuesday, April 29, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Queens foodies will also be able to choose from a number of drinks, including beer and spirits from Queens Distillery, Queens Brewery, Punzoné Vodka and Brooklyn Brewery, some of which will be set up in a beer tent on the Sheraton’s outdoor patio. Those looking for a non-alcoholic drink can wash down their food with some Chinese tea from Flushing’s Rose House.

This year’s event will have a World’s Fair theme, in commemoration of the 50th and 75yh anniversaries of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs that took place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Old pictures of the World’s Fairs will be broadcast on TV screens and a mother-daughter duo who sold Belgian waffles at the World’s Fair in 1964 will attend. The Queens Historical Society will also be showcasing memorabilia from the fairs.

“I look forward to Queens Taste all year,” said Seth Bornstein, executive director of QEDC. “It is so much fun on so many levels — the food, the drinks, the people, the venue and the celebration.”

Tickets for Queens Taste 2014 will cost $100 per person or $175 for two and proceeds from the event will go toward the QEDC, a nonprofit that strives to attract and maintain jobs in the borough through business services and neighborhood development.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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