DINING OUT: Ridge’s best tempt diners at annual foodfest

Nearly 50 restaurants and a local liquor store strutted their stuff at the Taste of the Ridge, a celebration of the culinary diversity of Bay Ridge put on each year by St. Patrick’s to benefit both the school and the parish.

Now in its 21st year, the foodfest — held in the fall, this year, instead of the spring — provided attendees with the opportunity to sample dishes from many of the neighborhood’s best restaurants, representing an array of cuisines from Italian to Middle Eastern, Mexican to Japanese, Spanish to American, all set out in the St. Patrick Catholic Academy auditorium, at Fourth Avenue and 97th Street.

And, sample they did. Parishioner Tom Donovan, who was enjoying a plate of food at one table, noted, “A lot of people made some serious effort here. It’s a good day as you can see, a community day.”

Among the highlights were a paella brimming with shellfish from Spanish staple Sancho’s, and two varieties of Mac and Cheese (one with Buffalo chicken, the other with steak) from another neighborhood favorite, the Wicked Monk.

The plethora of food so overwhelmed one diner that she could be heard asking, “Is it a sin to overeat? I have to ask father.”

Among the items that tempted my palate were the Spinach Pie from Al Koura, a triangle of dough folded around a tangy filling. The lemony bright Hummus from Tanoreen was another star, as was the tart and creamy Babaganoush from Alsalam.

Fushimi, which brought both sushi and cooked options to the event, provided a bountiful spread — among its offerings were yummy Shrimp Shumai and vegetable dumplings (Gyoza), both of them neat little morsels enhanced by sweet soy dipping sauce that teased the palate.

I had to resist the urge to return for another sample — a difficult decision made easier by the fact that there were so many other different foods to try, such as the Singapore Rice Noodles, curry-inflected, sweet and spicy and studded with plump shrimp and chicken, cooked up by 86 Noodle and offered alongside its Bacon Fried Rice.

I was also drawn by the selection of pizzas from one of the nabe’s newest purveyors, the Brooklyn Firefly, which even included a vegan pie in its offerings.

I tried the pie topped with fresh arugula, ricotta and pesto and enjoyed the combination of flavors and the crispy crust.

Other, more traditional pizza-makers were also on hand, among them Bay Ridge Pizza, whose co-owner Gasper Tumminello came prepared not only with a plethora of pies but also half a dozen other dishes, from Baked Ziti to Mussels Marinara to Chicken Francese.

Tumminello wouldn’t take my “I’m too full to try anything else” for an answer; I left his table with a plate brimming with Mesclun salad that featured candied walnuts, strawberries, pear slices and dried cranberries and was dressed with a sweet-tart raspberry vinaigrette that turned out to be the perfect grace note to an amazing afternoon of nibbling.

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