A Taste of Sheepshead Bay – this year dubbed Coney Island Hospital’s A Taste of Sheepshead Bay, in honor of the institution’s generous support to keep it going – finally returned to the neighborhood last week after lingering complications from Superstorm Sandy forced a delay, and it was a phenomenal success.

Sponsored by il Fornetto, A Taste of Sheepshead Bay brought together the neighborhood’s greatest eateries and community boosters to feed approximately 300 attendees, and send a clear signal to neighbors and all of New York City: Sheepshead Bay is back, baby.

(Did you find a restaurant at A Taste of Sheepshead Bay that you’ve never tried before and plan on visiting now? Let us know in the comments!)

In the days since the event, I’ve been on the phone or speaking by e-mail with dozens of attendees, and the verdict is clear: the restaurants did an incredible job showcasing their wares, and every person we talked to agreed that they discovered a new place to try out.

For some, it was Cats on the Bay’s delicious duck wraps. Others gushed over the tender Pollo Campagnola served by il Fornetto. Besides surprising us with a Sheepshead Bites cake, T&D Bakery drew raves for its aromatic baked goods, and Jomart got a few new devotees for the handmade coconut marshmellows made by third-generation chocolate maker Michael Rogak.

I was amazed to hear that there were people who had never tried the lamb from Anatolian Gyro, but there were – and now they have. Tete a Tete’s steak-on-a-stick made mouths water, as did the Peking duck from Chopstix.

Three-time Taste of participant Arbuz helped diners complete their meals with some frozen yogurts and homemade toppings. Arbuz deserves a bit of a special shout out – they are always the first to confirm their participation in the event every year, and we truly appreciate their dedication to the community.

Even vegetarians got their fill: we had at least three in the crowd, and they crooned over Istanbul’s hummus and baba ganoush, Wheeler’s muscles (okay, one was actually a “pescetarian”) and Delmar’s potato pizza – the last of which was a delicious discovery for even this veteran Delmar’s patron.

Classic Italian delis Jimmy’s Favorite Heros and Bassett Caterers also did a swell job, the first filling stomachs with their trademark heros, and the latter with a spread from their catering menu (their eggplant rollatini is a thing of beauty).

One elected official fell in love with a nutella crepe from Dessert Palace – another favorite of the vegetarians in attendance – and we hope it brings people to their newly expanded, all-seasons location on Emmons Avenue.

Chayhana Salom repped the Uzbeki crowd with classic plov and other dishes. This was their second year in attendance, and the second year in a row I’ve been told by people who had been too timid to venture into Uzbeki cuisine that they are now committed fans.

My favorite part of the event wasn’t the food – it was seeing all of our amazing readers and getting to meet many of you in person. I also loved hearing from the handful of folks who came down from Manhattan and northern Brooklyn. All said variations of the same two things: 1) “I’ve never been to Sheepshead Bay. This place is incredible and I can’t wait to come back and eat.” and 2) “I can’t believe how unpretentious it is.” Damn right, that’s how we roll. Dinner with our Sheepshead Bites family and friends – no need to muss it up with highfalutin’ nonsense like kale.

Those sentiments are best exemplified by this Manhattan food blogger’s take on the event:

Part of the event’s intent, I believe, was to showcase the delicious food of the area to people like me, who don’t know much about Sheepshead Bay’s culinary gems, and who are also probably unaware that post-Sandy, Sheepshead Bay’s businesses are ready and waiting for visitors. Was the food enticing enough to bring me back? Sure! However, there’s another reason why I would make the trip out.

I know everyone loves New York, and there’s most definitely a fierce Brooklyn spirit – but I have to be honest – I’ve never seen such an outpouring of pride and support for any neighborhood in New York City as I did for Sheepshead Bay that night.

There’s no higher compliment than that.

We want to thank all of you again for coming out and having dinner with us, as well as our terrific participants. Thanks, too, to Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Councilman Chaim Deutsch, district leaders Lew Fidler and Ari Kagan, and State Senator Marty Golden representative Anthony Testaverde, who all spoke in support of Sheepshead Bay’s remarkable culinary industry.

Finally, thanks again to Coney Island Hospital and il Fornetto for their support, and to the Baron DeKalb Knights of Columbus for hosting us.

Did you find a restaurant at A Taste of Sheepshead Bay that you’ve never tried before and plan on visiting now? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by Erica Sherman.

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  • Tom P.

    I never ate at Cats on the Bay before and I was delighted to find their food was absolutely delicious…especially the duck roll-ups. MMMmmm…really good. I plan to go there for dinner soon to get more duck roll-ups. Thanks to Sheepshead Bites I have discovered a new eatery. I had a great time meeting old friends and making new ones. Looking forward to next year.

    • Arthur Borko

      Tom this is the exact reason why this event was created. To expose all the options available in Sheepshead Bay to people who might not know what’s right under their nose!

  • guest

    It was a great evening: the band, the food, the food, the band…. wow, I’m in one of the pictures. That means Erica’s camera probably malfunctioned soon after… Thanks for putting the hard work into this event, I hope the restaurants gain customers, because I can’t think of a single bad one in the whole place

    • ES

      Actually, it was right at the beginning of the event, but thankfully the problematic issue (at least one of them) was rectified quickly.

      • cameraRuiner

        Yeah but her lens will never be the same…

  • SheepsheadBayer

    My two cents: Randazzo is clearly the greatest, and is the only survivor from the good old days. Limon, is purportedly the best of the fish restaurants, and it’s on the Bay side of Emmons Avenue. Roll n Roaster has superior fast food and also serves beer and wine. (What other fast food restaurant does that?) Masal is best for desert because of all the cafes, it’s customers are observably the most intellectual and the least drunk.

  • Arthur Borko

    My only regret about A Taste of Sheepshead Bay is that I couldn’t try nearly enough things, I couldn’t fit enough food in my stomach, and that it didn’t last nearly long enough.

    I look forward to this outing every year without fail, and it was great to see the same people I sat with the year before to catch up and say hello and see how we all changed.

    It was also great to meet some fellow posters in the flesh and I hope we can hang out soon!

    Ned, I really mean this, you need to start considering running this event bi-yearly. I know I joked about extending it and doing one for Midwood, but honestly I don’t think any other neighborhood in Brooklyn could quite produce the same level of quality, charm, and spirit as Sheepshead Bay does.

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  • Chrissy

    The dumplings made by the Knights of Columbus kitchen were outstanding!