While neighboring Hoboken has its own annual tasting, Weehawken is growing, not only as a community, but as a destination - and on April 29 at 7:30 p.m., there's another reason to visit.
The Eighth Annual Taste of Weehawken gives patrons a chance to explore the diverse area dining scene all at once at the Lincoln Harbor Food Court, 1200 Harbor Blvd.
And if an array of delicious food isn't inviting enough, the proceeds from the tasting will benefit the Weehawken Public Library, helping them to secure better resources and create more programs for the community.
Weehawken High's school band will provide music for this yearly evening of fine food.
Among the local flavors to taste and those participating: Amanda's, Ana's Kitchen, Arthur's Landing, Allied Beverage, Ben & Jerry's, Carlo's Bakery, the Chart House, Frank's Waterside, Jems of Hoboken, G.P.'S, the Harbor Bar & Brasserie, Houlihan's, the Culinary Arts department of Hudson County Community College, Lorraine's Table, the Madison, the Melting Pot, the Park Avenue Bar & Grill, Paula at Rigoletto, Porto Leggero, Ruth's Chris Steak House, the Sushi House, and the Weehawken High School culinary class.
Faye Rausch, general manager of the Park Avenue Bar & Grill in Union City, is a Weehawken resident, and she has a lot of town pride behind this second year at the tasting.
"What we like to represent is that there's so much of this community that's coming together because Manhattan is so far to go just to dine," says Rausch, explaining that their goal is to show customers that they can "get that Manhattan taste without having to leave New Jersey."
She insists that people want to find quality dining and entertainment in their own town, and says, "It's huge for Weehawken to hold their own."
She adds, "People who come together in the Weehawken community can really see that what we offer is even better than Manhattan."
And to tempt your palette, Park Avenue will offer black angus New York strip steak on toasted garlic toastinis with chimichurri sauce, coconut shrimp with tequila lime mango sauce, pan-seared scallops with Spanish jambalaya, and their famous mushroom empanadas with gorgonzola cheese.
Nirav Patel, owner of the Melting Pot in Hoboken, which opened about six months ago, says that he's excited for their first tasting in the area (they missed Hoboken's), saying, "Weehawken is right next door."
Patel says the Melting Pot is "known nationwide for our cheese and our chocolate," and they're bringing tasty treats to go with their fondue, including brownies, pound cake, and strawberries.
Michael Haimowitz, head chef at Arthur's Landing in Weehawken, says they get at least 150 people visiting their table each year, and they prepare about 300 portions for the event.
"It's always been very positive, and we always try to do something that's unique to us," namely the lobster sliders - little miniature lobster burgers with roasted chili and scallion mayonnaise. "And it really is nice to get out into the community. This gives us a chance to go meet our neighbors face to face."
Jody Reynolds, of Arthur's Landing, adds, "It benefits the public library, which is number one in our eyes - that we give back to the community."
While devouring mouthfuls of treats, patrons will give back to the community, aiding the Weehawken library in its continuous efforts to improve what it offers the public.
Phil Greco, director of the Weehawken Public Library, says that they get a fair share of out-of-towners as well as a good amount of Weehawken residents who come out to eat and show support for the fund raiser.
"It benefits the library by giving us funds to do programs - both children and adult programming - and to purchase supplies," says Greco, adding, "Less the expenses, the entire amount [of money raised] goes to the library."
Last year, the event raised approximately $9,000 in proceeds as well as donations. That money is still being put to work for the library as Greco explains that they are in the process of acquiring benches and chess tables for the outdoor reading area.
What does he enjoy most about the event, besides greeting the guests?
"Every year, [the food] has been outstanding," he says, adding compliments to the Weehawken High culinary class, calling their food "excellent!"
Greco also acknowledged the hard work that goes into organizing the tasting.
"I would like to thank all of the restaurants that do participate every year and all the residents that do come and attend this event," Greco says, also expressing his gratitude to the library staff and board of trustees, and Mayor Richard Turner for helping to bring the Taste of Weehawken to the community.
Tickets purchased in advance at the library are $55 for preview hour from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and $30 for general admission to the main event from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets purchased at the door will be $60 for the preview and $35 for general admission.
Comments can be sent to Mpaul@hudsonreporter.com.