Taste of Roxbury was bursting at the seams Monday night, as hosting venue Junction 46 neared maximum capacity of 500.
Lucky patrons were probably feeling to same way, after sampling the risotto, pizza, curry, barbecued ribs, alligator sausage and lamb stew, just to start, and then topping it off with a full slice of homemade cheesecake from Roxbury Diner.
Sixteen area restaurants offered samples from their menus and special dishes, while High Grade Beverages and Junction 46 offered a wine tasting. Patrons paid $25 at the door for tickets.
The 8th annual Taste of Roxbury was the biggest event ever, said Roxbury Area Chamber of Commerce vice president Linda Dora. It doubled in attendance from last year. The chamber split proceeds with the Rotary Club to benefit charity causes including scholarships, she said.
Diners were lined up the length of Junction 46 and Quality Inn as doors opened at 6:30 p.m. The feast slowed around 8 p.m. as many vendors served their last plates of
Sabretti's Hot Dogs and Wild Game owner Rohan Shetty holds samples of 607 pieces of alligator sausage that he served at the event. Like many vendors, he served every sample he brought to Taste of Roxbury, Monday, May 19.Photo by Karen Mancinelli.
food, surprised by the substantial increase in attendance from last year.
Serving to the end was Junction 46 owner Bob Weinegar, who said that he and his wife Janice had a home-court advantage. They served 40 pounds of volcanic chicken, 25 pounds of hot bites – chicken wrapped with bacon and jalapeno, and 250 mushrooms stuffed with spinach and mozzarella, topped with garlic and lime sauce.
Teri Messina of Flanders raved about Junction 46’s stuffed mushrooms and Irpinia Italian Gourmet’s mushroom risotto. After the tasting, she said she also planned to eat out at Fresco Mexican, which is near her home, and Morris Tap & Grill, two restaurants she had never tried.
“The desserts are killing us,” said friend Amy Mateja of Ogdensburg, as they stood by the Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe’s table of mini cupcakes, just around the corner from the cheesecake.
Sabretti's Hot Dogs and Wild Game owner Rohan Shetty served samples of alligator sausage, joking with the endless line of customers that he’d “wrestled it out of the pond this morning, folks.” He said he was surprised that he went though all 607 pieces of the slightly spicy meat. He ate the 608th piece himself. An alligator sausage sandwich with peppers and onions runs around $8, so he wanted to give area residents a sample so they knew that they’d like it.
Greeting customers as they came in the door was a table laden with Italian food from Cambiotti’s Tomato Pie Café in Landing. Owner Dave Cambiotti brought a copy of their new menu and served up penne in vodka sauce, spiral pasta with pesto cream sauce, and many varieties of pizza.
“I like coming here. It’s for a good cause. We see our regular customers and attract some new customers. It’s a good time,” he said.