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Taste of Times Square Returns to Restaurant Row

By Mathew Katz | June 7, 2012 9:02am
Leonor Berna, of Forest Hills, munched on a pork taco in her first Taste of Times Square experience.
Leonor Berna, of Forest Hills, munched on a pork taco in her first Taste of Times Square experience.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

TIMES SQUARE — Restaurant Row will once again be the place to go for bites of twisted mac 'n cheese, bacon brownies, and even alligators in a blanket.

The world of weird and wonderful cuisine will be served up by over 50 restaurants from around the neighborhood at the 19th annual Taste of Times Square on Monday evening.

Last year, for the first time in its history, the festival moved from Restaurant Row to the pedestrian plazas on Broadway, causing some longtime participants — used to serving right outside their restaurants — to opt out.

The outdoor food festival will return to its original home on Restaurant Row on West 46th Street while still having a presence on the Broadway pedestrian plazas from West 45th to West 47th streets.

The restaurants will offer tastes of some of their signature menu items, from dumplings to dosas, for anywhere from $1 to $6, all while enjoying street musicians peppered throughout the fair.

William Gallagher, executive chef at Restaurant Row mainstay Becco, said he was happy to return to the taste after a year away.

"Last year, they took it away from what we always did — that's what it's all about, being in front of the restaurant," he said.

"We're very happy it's back on the street."

The restaurant participated in the event since it started, and has served its signature dish of sausage and peppers on ciabatta bread for the past few years.

This year, Gallagher expects the $4 dish to be as popular as ever, and plans to grind 150 pounds of sausage in-house.

The restaurant also plans to cook up about 100 pounds of penne for a dish with fresh basil that costs $3.

"We never run out," Gallagher said. "We're one of the troopers. If we're gonna do this, we're gonna do it to the end."

On top of the returning chefs from Restaurant Row, the fest has also added several new vendors, including Mr. Robata, which will serve a fusion steak frites sushi hand roll, along with E&E Grill House, which will dole out bowls of beef cheek chili with smoked cornbread.

"We’re here at the Crossroads of the World, we’ve got people that come from around the world, but New Yorkers come here to get cuisine from around the world," said the Times Square Alliance's Lori Raimondo.

"I think it’s a way to really experience one neighborhood where a lot of other festivals pull from a bunch of different ones."

Raimondo added that this year's festival would combine both tradition with the space afforded by the pedestrian plazas, which weren't around just a few years ago.

"We really loved including Restaurant Row and having it on those streets as well," she said.

"For people who live or work in Midtown, it's a great way to sample all the places you can go for lunch, or before a Broadway show."

On top of all the food, the fest will have a few extra quirky additions. Percussion lovers can get the beat at the Drum Cafe, an interactive African Drumming circle, and free swing lessons from Dance Manhattan Studios.

Taste of Times Square runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on Monday, June 11 on West 46th Street between Broadway and Ninth Avenue and on Broadway from West 45th to West 47th Streets. Admission is free. Each taste ticket costs $1, with dishes ranging from $1 to $6.