So close we can taste it

By Helaina N. Hovitz

From fine wine to fish tacos, the first annual Taste of Front Street will have something to offer everyone.

Following in the successful footsteps of the Taste of Tribeca, the event will feature “tastes” of the signature dishes and drinks from 23 local merchants. All proceeds go to the Spruce Street School (P.S. 397) P.T.A. and will be used for the development of enrichment programs.

Many owners of the featured restaurants are also Downtown residents, like Calli Lerner, co-owner of Bin 220, who lives in Southbridge Towers. “It is important for everyone in the community to come together for this important cause,” she said. 

Learan Kahanov, one of the parent organizers and a P.T.A. member at Spruce Street School, said the event is about building a community, creating awareness, and raising money for the school. “It’s a group effort; we had a lot of help from other parents, as well as from the local merchants and area residents,” said Kahanov.

The event is the brainchild of Fernando Dallorso, another Downtown resident and owner of Stella restaurant. He came up with the idea two years ago after seeing just how hard the recession hit the area. Dallorso hopes the event will play a big part in revitalizing the neighborhood and expects at least 500 people.

Dallorso came to the C. B. 1 Seaport Committee meeting seeking support for the Front Street Restaurateurs.

“I suggested that we do a Taste of Front Street akin to the Taste of Tribeca to help advertise the restaurants while also supporting the brand new Spruce Street P.S. 397,” said committee member Paul Hovitz. “The eastside has always been an ‘orphan’ when it comes to parks, schools and amenities. Here’s our chance to support the eastside contingent of C.B. 1.”

Claudio Marini, owner of Barbarini restaurant, has lived in Tribeca for ten years and has three children who attend schools in Lower Manhattan. After seeing the Taste of Tribeca “get better every year,” he expects this event to do the same, and hopes it will draw in crowds that normally don’t patronize Front Street after visiting the South Street Seaport. All of the merchants involved hope that the Taste will bring in more regular customers. “Winter was very hard for everybody,” said Marini. “Onda [restaurant] closed down. That’s a sign of the times, and it worries me a lot when a place closes down right next door.”

The event holds special significance for P.S. 397 children. This inaugural year’s kindergarten curriculum included a restaurant study in which the kids worked with Front Street restaurants Nelson Blue, Stella, and the Cowgirl Seahorse to learn about various aspects of the restaurant business.

“It’s like we’re one big, happy family. We want to lend our support to the local business,” said Elda Roter, a P.S. 397 parent. “Front Street is sort of this undiscovered gem for a lot of New Yorkers who aren’t familiar with this part of Downtown.”

Dallorso said that sponsors jumped at the chance to help, and none of them did it for their own personal gain. “I told them, ‘there’s not much we can give you,’ but it didn’t matter to any of them, they were all eager to help,” he said.

Empire Promotions, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Nova Graphics, New Amsterdam, Market, Edible Manhattan, Downtown Alliance, Roger Bentley Advertising, Fabric Traditions, The Quad Manhattan, Fulton Stall Market/GGP, Radeberger U.S.A., and Dallis Bros. Coffee, and the Downtown Express sponsored the event. 

Thirty volunteers will be working the event that will take place on Front Street between Beekman Street and Peck Slip on Saturday, June 26, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. One ticket is $25 for five tastings, and all tickets can be purchased at event.