By Bill Parry
Last year’s Taste of Sunnyside was so well received, even by critics of the idea, that the block-long festival tent under the No. 7 subway will return for another go May 19. Tickets for the popular annual neighborhood restaurant promotion inside the went on sale last week and are already selling at a faster rate than in 2014.
“We had such a great time under that tent that we had to do it again,” Sunnyside Shines Executive Director Rachel Thieme said. “This year we’re going to add picnic tables along the sides of the tent to make even greater use of the space.”
More than 500 people attended last year’s event between 45th and 46th Streets and Queens Boulevard. Many skeptics said the pollution and noise from traffic on the boulevard, and even pigeon droppings, would spoil the event, but they were proven wrong.
Everybody had their reservations, but I knew it was going to work out,” Claret Wine Bar Manager Justin Costello said. “It turned out to be the best Taste yet. As usual we all have great confidence in Rachel, her ideas always seem to pan out.”
Almost every participating restaurant returns this year, including Sunnyside’s most lauded eateries including Salt and Fat and Venturo Osteria, both recognized by Michelin as a Bib Gourmand pick for 2015. Murphy’s Lobster Grill, the winner of the “best appetizer” award at the 2014 Queens Taste, will also return.
“And then we have many of the neighborhood’s newest restaurants taking part for the first time such as the Tibetan Dumpling Cafe and Punda Tibetan Restaurant and Nonna Gina Brick Oven Pizzeria,” Thieme said. “It’s even more diverse than it was last year and I didn’t think that was possible.”
The event has proven to be such a fine promotion that yet-to-open Italian restaurant Soleluna is participating. In all, 26 restaurants will prepare and serve samples of their cuisine ranging from Thai, Irish, Mexican, Paraguayan, French and Filipino.
Beverages will be provided by SingleCut Brewery, Queens Brewery and Lowery Wines and Liquors as well as event sponsors Associated Marketplace and Fresh n Save Marketplace.
Further promoting the diversity in the neighborhood, the Taste of Sunnyside will a full lineup of entertainment, including Danza España and flamenco dancers from the Thalia Spanish Theatre.
“Bringing all the flavors of Sunnyside into one visible food festival is an amazing opportunity for local residents and visitors alike to discover their new favorite restaurant and a great way to promote Sunnyside as a restaurant destination,” Thieme said. She is promoting other neighborhood businesses with a “shop local” promotion.
Customers who downloads Taste of Sunnyside Shop Local Discount Card will receive deals with participating businesses that run until May 31. Tickets for the Taste of Sunnyside are $60 for a VIP pass that gets early entry at 5:30 p.m. General admission to the event at 6:30 p.m. is $35.
“We’re encouraging people to buy early because sales are ahead of where we were last year,” Thieme said. “Last year’s event exceeded our wildest expectations and we’re excited to be back under the 7 train this year to sample all this delicious food.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr