Baseball fans at Citi Field are in for some delicious grub this season, as the ballpark unveiled a slate of new food options — including many dishes from local cuisine connoisseurs.
“There’s great food in New York, so we’ve paired with a lot of local restaurants to bring their great food to the ballpark, and let 42,000 screaming Mets fans enjoy their food as well,” said Citi Field executive chef Jason Eksterowicz.
Several Big Apple restaurants will be represented in the Queens stadium for the upcoming MLB season, including Pig Beach — a barbecue joint based in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
“Our first year was supposed to be in 2019, but then the world ended — so, here we are,” Shane McBride, the director of operations at Pig Beach.
McBride highlighted the many ways they’ve tailored their beloved Brooklyn barbecue to suit their newest digs, including rearranging their menu and plating style to accommodate the finger-food nature of sports concessions.
“We try to make particular things that are ballpark-friendly. I’m a sports guy, so I know what I want to eat when I’m at the ballpark… so we tried to make it as easy as possible on fans,” he said.
Stadium food managers reached out to the eatery, along with other famed food-slingers — such as the Manhattan-based Murray’s Mac and Cheese, and Jacob’s Pickles, along with Queens’ own Cento Percento Italian food.
Eksterowicz, who is entering his 7th season as the ballpark’s cuisine maestro, spoke about the changing nature of food in sporting venues, noting their newfound ability to add variety — and more up-scale options — to the menu.
“I think food in general has changed a lot in that time. Social media has helped a lot in that aspect — there’s a lot of bloggers putting food at the forefront now. We were known as ‘chicken tender vendors’ not too long ago,” the chef said. “Now, we’re able to bring some of the cool nuances that you would find at high-end restaurants, and bring that to the ballpark.”
The foodie added that bringing on local restaurants allowed Citi Field to easily add some of the Five Boroughs’ best dining options, while also giving the organization the opportunity to give back to their community, especially as many eateries struggle from COVID-related business woes.
“One thing that is very important is the importance of community,” Eksterowicz said “So, bringing in community places, and taking care of your neighbor — that was important to the Mets before, but now especially after COVID.”
The Mets’ opening day at Citi Field will come on Friday, April 15 in an afternoon matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks.