BY ANNA SPIVAK & MEAGHAN MCGOLDRICK
Over 30 of the nabe’s finest restaurants served up their share at the Taste of the Ridge, held in the Aldo Bruschi Auditorium of St. Patrick’s Catholic Academy on Sunday, April 24.
Now in its 20th year, the all-you-can-eat event was the brainchild of Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, then a parish priest at St. Patrick’s and a trained chef, and chef Donald Penza, who went to school at St. Patrick’s, and it has grown since its inception, adding new participants each year to the roster of tried-and true favorites.
The yearly afternoon of food and fun raises funds for both the school and the parish.
Exhibitors included Aero, Arirang, Campania, Cappuccino Café, Cathy’s Place, Chadwick’s, Gino’s, Grenhhouse Café, Ho’Brah, Istanbul Kitchen, Las Margaritas, Leo’s Casa Calamari, Mike’s Deli, Molte Bene, Nature’s Grill, Offshore Restaurant, Paneantico, Ponte Vecchio, Positano, Salty Dog, Sancho, Sapporo, Sofia’s, Shangri-La, Skinflints, The Kettle Black, The Lockyard, The Wicked Monk, Vesuvio, and Xin, among others.
Of those, we tried as much as we could fit, starting with some of Ho’Brah’s Mexican lasagna. The west-coast inspired dish was a spicy spin on an Italian classic, boasting beef, beans and cheese, artfully folded in traditional pasta sheets.
Next, we stopped by Lockyard – which, alongside Ho’Brah and Kettle Black, is owned by event organizer Tommy Casatelli – to sample their “Seattle Sound” hotdog. The dish, awarded People’s Choice at the event, boasted bold flavors and an unexpected combination of toppings like RC Cola Caramelized onions, cream cheese, banana peppers and everything bagel seeds, all topped with a little bit of Sriracha aioli. Needless to say, it was one of our top choices as well.
A fierce competitor, however, was Gino’s chicken parm and stuffed shells, which along with complimenting each other well, featured all the perfect cheesy, saucy flavors one comes to expect from a hearty Italian dish.
For the first time in the event’s history, plates were judged by Celebrity Chef Vincent Tropepe, who awarded Best Dish to Istanbul Kitchen for its Lamb Gyro and Homemade Hummus, with Second Best Dish going to Tuscany Grill for its Sweet Sausage in Grape Sauce. Best Dessert was awarded to Leske’s Bakery for their Raspberry Bar and CEBU took home second place for their Tiramisu.
“We’re really so blessed here with great parishioners that help keep events like this going,” said Rev. Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, who credited the event’s success to its organizers. “So many people are involved. I’m just a figurehead – they do all the hard work and they’ve been the legs. This is an outstanding turnout and it’s a great event for a great community. The restaurants here in Bay Ridge are just phenomenal.”
Organizers were proud of some of this year’s changes, which included more seating and a first-of-its-kind wine and beer tasting.
“We’re very happy with how this year turned out,” said Casatelli. “We tried to do things a little differently and we’re very happy with the results.”
Fellow organizer Romeo Petric agreed.
“We’re happy and excited to keep this going,” he said.