“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie,” that’s Restaurant Night in Secaucus. In its first year, people turned out in high numbers on Oct. 11 for a special evening dedicated to food and feasting on local restaurant specialties. Residents and visitors mingled on Front Street under a tent that glowed with strung lights and the hum of chatter as eateries served up everything from samosas to eggplant lasagna to seared Ahi tuna.
“Fantastic,” said Lee Penna, event organizer. Penna works for the library as the community outreach coordinator and was approached by the mayor to help put the event together. She estimated that more than 600 people attended.
“It was a complete success,” noted Penna. She said the event achieved what it set out to do in building exposure to local restaurants.
Guests paid $5 per plate of food and had their choice of an appetizer, main course, dessert, or a mix of all from some locations. Guests were also treated to a complimentary glass of wine in the community center.
Live music played in the background as people perused the offerings of restaurants lined up along each side. The ambiance was established with the help of Ed Haggerty and his team from Custom Party Rentals, which helped set up for the evening.
Molly McEvoy’s, which opened within the last year, had prepared dishes such as corned beef sliders, buffalo wings, Chicken Country, and Chicken Arrabiata. China Chef offered heaping plates of chicken and broccoli and beef with vegetables. Outback Steakhouse presented items such as a chopped salad, steak, grilled chicken, seared ahi tuna, and carrot cake.
“It is one of the best exposures any restaurant can get,” said Sankalp Trivedi from Mausam.
One guest was overheard telling Trivedi that she would be back to eat at the restaurant after sampling one of their dishes.
Sampling local variety
Tables lined both sides of the tent at each end with sizzling or steaming dishes from independent establishments such as Natoli’s, Filomena’s, La Reggia, and Giovanni’s, and popular chains like Carrabbas, Cosi, Outback Steakhouse, Houlihan’s, and Bonefish Grill. The evening provided variety from others such as: Aji Sushi, Tadka, Trillos, Mausam, Molly McEvoy’s, and Urban Plum.
“Everyone is on the same platform…We can see all the variety that is available,” noted Trivedi. He added that having the opportunity to see what other restaurants have to offer would help inform suggestions of caterers to patrons who use Mausam’s banquet facilities.
Councilman William McKeever and his partner, who are regular patrons of Bonefish Grill, planned to make their way over to the restaurant’s table and noted that they have probably eaten in every Secaucus restaurant at least twice.
“I like everything,” said Jack McStowe, school board president.
Resident Ronanfes Hernandez chewed on a cheeseburger from Cheeseburger in Paradise. She said in Spanish that she took the night off from cooking and made her way over to the event.
“It was good,” said Guido Martinelli, who sat at a table with his 3-year-old grandson Aidan Wurst. They had sampled food from Outback Steakhouse and Cheeseburger in Paradise.
Residents came out for a number of different reasons including to support and enjoy the event or “Apoyar y disfrutar,” as resident Reina Libre put it in Spanish. She enjoyed a dish of eggplant parmagiana, which she noted was very good. She said everything including the music was beautiful.
She said that it would be great to have a once-a-month restaurant night.