By MIAWLING LAM
|Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. enjoys a sample of what|
diners can expect during a launch event for Savor The Bronx
Foodies, dining enthusiasts and bargain hunters, take note: Bronx Restaurant Week is still on. Borough officials kicked off the second annual event during a subdued launch preview at Oregano Bar & Bistro in Riverdale last Thursday.
Dubbed Savor The Bronx, the promotion aims to showcase the borough’s diverse gastronomical delights and elevate its culinary cred.
Under the promotion, rescheduled due to superstorm Sandy, around 35 Bronx restaurants are offering diners a three-course lunch for $16.41 and a bargain dinner for $20.12 through Friday, November 16.
A few establishments are even throwing in a free dessert or taking 15 percent off the entire tab.
The $16.41 price for lunch bears a special significance—1641 marks the year that Jonas Bronck purchased a 500-acre farm and settled in the borough.
Bronx Tourism Council executive director Olga Luz Tirado said this year’s event has taken on added importance, given the widespread devastation caused by the historic storm.
Tirado admitted that organizers flirted with the idea of canceling the promotion altogether but decided against it, saying it was more crucial than ever before to promote local businesses.
“We have to make sure that the people know that The Bronx is open for business,” she said.
“What’s best for Bronx businesses is to move forward and get back to business as quickly as possible, and what’s best for the community is to get The Bronx back up and going. We just have to keep moving forward.”
Among this year’s participants is the critically acclaimed Cuban establishment Havana Café, the popular Italian joint Antonio’s Trattoria and the casual restaurant Muscle Maker Bar & Grill. Bruckner Bar & Grill in the South Bronx was also due to participate but was forced to withdraw just days before the launch after Sandy flooded its entire basement.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. made no apologies for moving ahead with Savor The Bronx, claiming it would help boost the city’s spirits.
“In the aftermath of Sandy, we have to be mindful that this is good for morale,” he said.
“We have a lot of Bronx families who need to know that they can come out and eat something at an affordable price at 35 different restaurants and spend time with their family and help out a restaurant. These restaurants haven’t had any traffic in almost a week.”
Oregano Bar & Bistro, a Franco-Iberian restaurant in Riverdale that opened to much fanfare earlier this year, seized on the opportunity to participate and will offer prix-fixe options for both lunch and dinner.
At the launch event, chef Claude Alain Solliard gave a hint of what diners could expect and served Iberico pork and bacon-wrapped beef short ribs drizzled with black peppercorn sauce.
Restaurateur Erick A. Caceres said he hoped the event would expose Oregano to a larger demographic.
Stephane Kane, chef/owner of the quaint French restaurant Bistro SK, echoed the sentiments.
The City Island-based restaurant escaped Sandy’s wrath and is offering diners a prix-fixe dinner menu.
Kane, who served a smorgasbord of authentic French bites including tuna tartare, escargots and crème brûlée at the preview launch, agreed the 12-day promotion gave restaurants unprecedented exposure.
“Being on City Island, we are very secluded to start with, and I’m doubly secluded because I’m a French restaurant around a lot of seafood restaurants and Italian restaurants,” he said.
“So I thought it would be—and it is—a good opportunity for me to open up to the rest of The Bronx and say, ‘Hey, we are here. Come and try.’”
This year’s Savor The Bronx is produced by the Bronx Tourism Council in conjunction with the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and is sponsored by financial services juggernaut American Express and the New York State Restaurant Association.
For more information, please visit savorthebronx.com.