If the New Taste of the Upper West Side food festival this weekend was any indication, the neighborhood has a strong — and even sexy — food culture, even if certain New York Post columnists may disagree. Upper West Siders know how to eat well — we’re not just sitting in our apartments quietly sobbing into our leftover Caesar salads, at least not every night.
More than 80 restaurants offered tasting plates to hundreds of attendees in a festival that raises money for the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District and various nonprofits, including Wellness in the Schools, which serves healthy food and teaches good eating habits in city public schools. Part of the money raised by the festival this year will pay for the restoration of the streetscape on Columbus Avenue between 76th and 77th that was rebuilt by the BID but then damaged this winter.
Some highlights from Friday and Saturday night’s events:
- We talked to employees of The Ribbon, soon to open on 72nd street near Central Park West in the former home of Sambuca. They were serving chopped liver on rye crackers, and it was even better than grandma’s chopped liver. They haven’t finalized the opening date, but Elizabeth Frumin, Blue Ribbon’s head of operations, says the menu will feature all sorts of savory dishes, from steaks to fish to …yes, chopped liver.
- Tessa on Amsterdam between 76th and 77th has been gaining a following, but owner Larry Bellone said the scaffolding and boarded-up storefronts on the block are “a nightmare.” They were serving Rabbit Cavatelli at the festival, and their rabbit guy Carlo from Brooklyn was there. The dish was awesome, and Carlo wanted credit: “It’s because the rabbit is so fresh!” If you need a rabbit guy, we’ve got his card.
- The West Side Campaign Against Hunger has a new 12-week chef training program where Chef Andrea Berquist help people looking for a job to get basic chef skills that will allow them to get a job in a restaurant kitchen. The sweet honey cornbread with spring onions and herbs they made for the festival was one of Friday’s standout dishes. Learn more about the program here.
- Bustan on Amsterdam between 83rd and 84th has a new chef, Jose Paulo Cortes, but they say the restaurant hasn’t skipped a beat, given that Cortes worked with former chef Efi Nahon and helped design the menu for years.
- Atlantic Grill on 64th street had an excellent salmon ceviche. They say the King Salmons swim into town next week.
Check out photos from the event below:
West Side Rag helped sponsor this year’s event.