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.