The first-annual "Taste of Bayside," a joint fund-raiser last Thursday for the Bayside Historical Society, headquartered in the Officer's Club, and the Bayside Business Association, was expected to garner about $5,000 for both groups, said Judy Limpert, co-president of the business association and a member of the historical society.
"It was a lot of work to get this thing together," said Limpert, who organized "Taste of Bayside" with Dominick Bruccoleri, owner of Papazzio's on Bell Boulevard. "It's a wonderful thing to see Baysiders come together and enjoy themselves. I feel like I'm at a family dinner."
Bruccoleri, whose Papazzio's has been in Bayside for more than 10 years, said he hoped the event would show people how Bell Boulevard has changed in the last few years.
There is "such a variety of cuisines on Bell with such international flare," he said. "We've become the dining mecca of Queens."
A feeling of family was prevalent throughout the night, when about 200 people came out to sample the foods of the 16 eateries that participated.
Joe Obdo, co-owner of VI Pizza on the corner of Bell Boulevard and 43rd Avenue, said he brought four of the longtime eatery's specialties to show the community what the pizzeria had to offer.
"This brings people together," he said. "It makes the community a lot tighter."
Ana Marretta, who owns Marretta's Bakery near the corner of Bell Boulevard and 41st Avenue with her husband Joe, got a chance to sample some of Obdo's food.
"It's fun to do," she said of the event. "You get to meet everybody."
Richard Pellegrino, co-owner of Anthony's at 222-02 Union Turnpike, said his restaurant joined in the fun because "we're a part of Bayside."
"It's a chance for people to taste our food and to raise some good money," he said. "It's a nice thing for the community."
The event was something small communities like Bayside rarely do, said Michael Giulini, New York district manager for Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, Ltd., a California winery that does business with several Bayside restaurants.
"I've gone to these all over the city," Giulini said as he handed glasses of wine to several eager people. "It's rare to see it in a small community. Queens is an untapped market for wine drinkers."
Denis Hamill, a columnist for the Daily News and a Bayside resident, agreed.
"I haven't seen something like this before," he said. "It reminds me of block parties in Brooklyn or street fairs in Manhattan, but I've never seen one in a venue like this. The culinary and culture together are what Bayside is all about."
Geraldine Spinella, president of the Bayside Historical Society, credited Limpert and Bruccoleri with making the event a success.
"They did all the arrangements for the restaurants," she said. "That was the heart of the event."
Joe McManus, owner of Yeats' Tavern on Bell Boulevard, said: "I think it's a great way of getting the community to know what's happening on Bell Boulevard."
©2000 Community News Group
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