The local food festival returns for sixth year of food and fun for a cause
Every year at the beginning of summer, the Upper West Side gets geared up for a foodie celebration, the New Taste of the Upper West Side, which brings together community members and celebrity chefs from nearby restaurants to raise money for a local cause. Sponsored and created by the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), this year’s events will take place along Columbus Avenue, from May 29th through June 1st.
This year, proceeds will go to the Sustainable Streetscape Project, a project on Columbus from 76th-77th Streets that will include new plantings and benches, solar lighting and a storm water collection area that will be the first of its kind across the city.
Several chefs participating in New Taste chatted about some of the delicious fare that will be circulating at the three events: Best of the West, which highlights the best chefs restaurants and chefs on the Upper West Side; Comfort Food Classics, which celebrates simple staples like burgers, cupcakes and soul food; and Soiree in the Park, a cocktail party held in Theodore Roosevelt Park, where 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward revamping the park.
John Fraser, owner of Dovetail
John Fraser is participating in Best of the West, and Soiree in the Park, and has been a part of New Taste since it began six years ago. Last year he impressed attendees with his completely vegetarian meal – turnip ceviche with quinoa. This year? Fraser hasn’t worked out all the details yet, but he guarantees that it will be lighter fare to balance out the burgers from the infamous Shake Shack and Five Napkin Burger.
“It’s almost turned into a family reunion with so much of the Upper West Side food community participating,” said Fraser. “Plus, New Taste has become quite large. It’s now three days long. It’s ultimately about a bunch of people who live up here gathering in one place and having a good time.”
Andy D’Amico, owner of 5Napkin Burger and Nice Matin
You can find Andy D’Amico’s juicy, infamous burgers at Comfort Food Classics. While Five Napkin Burger, with its three ounce slider topped with melted gruyere cheese, is sure to have a long line, don’t miss his other restaurant, Nice Matin’s contribution at Best of the West. This year, D’Amico is serving up a succulent short rib ravioli, topped off with a rich red wine and butter sauce. For festival regulars, D’Amico is switching up his usual fava bean tortelloni in favor of the heavier dish.
He is excited to be a part, again, of the newer event, “Comfort Food Classics.” For D’Amico, making popular comfort food is something to be proud of.
“Comfort food is that kind of not too much work to eat it,” said D’Amico. “It’s the same things we like and love, most of us eat it more often than the fancier food that will be served on Saturday night.”
Chef Jonathan Benno, Lincoln Ristorante
Jonathan Benno has participated in New Taste since his restaurant opened three years ago. The modern Italian restaurant is located right next to Lincoln Center’s reflecting pool. At this year’s Best of the West, Benno will be bringing the traditional Italian deli to the New Taste feast. He will be serving up a capicola sandwich, topped with crescenza cheese and hot peppers. The sandwich will be nestled between two slices of freshly-baked tomato focaccia bread.
“I’ve lived and worked in New York for 20 years and for a long time there weren’t a lot of restaurants up here,” said Benno. “Now the Upper West side is a dining destination.”
Chef Cesare Casella, Salumeria Rosi Parmacotta
Chef Casella has been wowing New Taste customers with “delizioso salumi” since the beginning of the feast six years ago. Ever year, he brings a selection of dried meats and cheeses to his booth, and this year is no different. Casella will be bringing a special type of prosciutto, parma cotto, sopressatta and mozzarella. He will be presenting his selection of meats and cheeses at both Soiree in the Park and Best of the West. Casella admitted that because so many new and favorite chefs will be at the event, that it’s difficult to pick and choose what to sample.
“It’s very tough, and you have to be a very good shopper,” said Casella. “Just try and taste as much as possible.”
Chef Maria Loi, Loi Restaurant
As a new restaurant in the area, this is only the second time Loi has participated in New Taste. Her Greek restaurant will be serving up the infamous Greek dessert, baklava, as well as a salmon tartare, a recipe inspired from by Ancient Greece. But despite the delicious concoctions, Loi says that her participation is all about the cause itself.
“I am always participating in events for charity, that’s why I love this event,” said Loi.
Other exciting vendors include Alice’s Teacup, Boulud Sud, Carmine’s, Magnoia Bakery and Tavern on the Green. Tickets for all events are still available online, ranging in price from $105 to $150 per person.
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