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Sunnyside Restaurant Week kicks off Monday

By Bill Parry

When Valerio Marchi opened his Italian restaurant Soleluna in May, he made sure to take part in the annual Taste of Sunnyside, a showcase of the neighborhood’s culinary diversity in a festival tents pitched under the No. 7 subway line. Now his restaurant will take part in Sunnyside Restaurant Week beginning Oct. 19 and he’s hoping it helps build his growing customer base.

“We served samples of our Polpette meatballs and the Fagottini Alla Valerio, our popular cheese and pear ravioli in a rosemary sauce,” Marchi said. “But you can’t cook it on site so that it’s better warmer and fresher. Now you get the people who tried it at the Taste to come to your restaurant and have it better prepared. Plus they can experience the full menu and see the restaurant, hear the music and feel the ambience behind the food.”

Now in its third year, 29 eateries have signed up to participate in the event, organized by Sunnyside Shines, offering a three-course dinner menu for $25 with many establishments offering additional lunch specials. The lineup includes Peruvian, Japanese, Thai, Colombian, Filipino, Irish, Mexican and French cuisine.

It includes two restaurants recognized as Michelin “Bib Gourmands,” Venturo and Salt and Fat . Bib Gourmands are awarded to restaurants offering high quality on a budget, specifically two course plus wine or dessert for $40 or less.

Other longtime neighborhood favorites such as Sidetracks and Dazies are taking part as is the Copper Kettle, which celebrated it 20th anniversary last Saturday.

“Last year’s event was a big success for out neighborhood eateries,” said Sara Nordmann, Sunnyside Shines interim executive director. “This event highlights the diverse range of restaurants in Sunnyside, but there’s a huge problem – figuring out how to eat in all these amazing restaurants in just one week.”

The five-day event will feature short film screenings from the Queens World Film Festival. Don and Katha Cato will show some of the festival winners at Bliss Plaza on opening night, “Queens-centric” shorts on Wednesday night at Claret Wine Bar (46-02 Skillman Ave.) and a collection of dark comedy and horror shorts Friday and the Dog and Duck (45-20 Skillman Ave.).

The art group No Longer Empty will curate a presentation of art videos for dinner time viewing Tuesday, Oct. 20 at Dazies (39-41 Queens Blvd.) and short films by William Wegman Thursday, Oct. 22 at Don Pollo (41-06 Greenpoint Ave.).

New York City-based artist Giorgio Casu will unveil a mural on the outside wall of Soleluna along 40th Street as part of Restaurant Week’s opening Monday, where he will give a talk. Casu’s murals are seen in major cities around the world as well as the White House, where he presented a portrait of President Obama in 2010.

“I picked George myself because I’ve seen his work before,” Marchi said. “I’m not sure exactly what he’s going to do, but I hope it’s ready in time for opening night.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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