By Lauren Raziano, Copy Editor/Web Editor
The inaugural Riverdale Restaurant Week brought together 29 different restaurants to celebrate the diverse food community found within Riverdale and Kingsbridge. Founded by Dine Out Riverdale, Restaurant Week aimed not only to highlight amazing restaurants, bars and coffee shops, but also to address food insecurity.
The profits earned from restaurant week from Oct.1 through Oct. 8 will be given to the community refrigerators in the Riverdale, Kingsbridge and Van Cortlandt neighborhoods.
Senior Denis Haxhija, a Bronx native, was excited to participate in the first Riverdale restaurant week.
“As a Riverdale resident for more than 15 years now, I was so happy to find out about this new initiative,” Haxhija wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “Riverdale and Kingsbridge is home to such an impressive array of restaurants and bars, featuring so many cuisines ranging from Italian, Israeli, Japanese, Greek, Albanian, Dominican, Chinese, Mexican, to Irish and beyond, and they all deserve the recognition. The best part is that so many of these restaurants are so authentic, family-owned and have been community staples for many years now.”
Haxhija tried special menu items from a new Mexican cuisine restaurant on Riverdale Avenue called Tobalá.
“I love the ambiance of this newly opened restaurant.” Haxhija wrote. “The beige walls, wooden hand-crafted furniture, and traditional Oaxacan decor create such a welcoming atmosphere but also a visibly-appealing aesthetic. Service was amazing, everyone was so kind.”
For restaurant week, Tobalá had a $50 prefixed menu which included an array of appetizers like vegan ceviche and roasted repollo, some main course options of Pulpo de Puerto, Pollito de Leche and Enmoladas de Hongo, along with a house made sweet tamales, pineapple compote, hibiscus powder dessert.
“I had guac (guacamole) and chips as the appetizer and the Tacos De Barbacoa (lamb) for entree, and La Mariposa cocktail,” Haxhija wrote.
Kingsbridge Social Club, located at 3625 Kingsbridge Ave, is a wood-fired pizza place that had a special priced menu for $35. Customers had a choice between two of their house salads and then any of the house pizzas for their entrees. For dessert, it was a choice between their special Zeppeldoughah or cannolis.
Riverdale Restaurant week also had a bar crawl on Saturday, Oct. 8 that divided the participating bars into 3 sections in Kingsbridge, North Riverdale and South Riverdale.
“The bar crawl was, I would say, a success. Everybody came in at the same time, had a great time, got their drinks on time and they got to taste our different drinks,” Imani, a bartender at Kingsbridge Social Club said. “They ordered their own different beers and they also ordered different cocktails so they got to taste the wide variety that we have available.”
Imani was able to connect with the customers who participated in the bar crawl.
“It was really nice and overall, they had fun,” Imani said. “I was trying to match the energy as well. Everybody was in a hearty energy.”
Imani recognized why Riverdale restaurant week is so important for the Riverdale Community.
“I think it’s very special but overall an important thing because the restaurant scene here is overlooked by the whole entire New York City and New York City is a place known for food.” Imani said. “Many people don’t know that here in the Bronx, we have a lot of gems. I myself didn’t know about gems in the Bronx, until I started working there. So I feel it’s a great opportunity for us to get our word out, not only in the city, but internationally as well.”
Imani is hopeful that restaurant week inspired new customers to try their offerings.
“I feel that the restaurant week was something that would definitely help us get our word out there because I saw a lot of people come in to take pictures and come into experience us for the first time just because of Restaurant Week,” Imani said. “So I feel that moving forward we should be having more guests. Restaurant Week was like a blessing.”
The Bronx Alehouse, located at 216 W 238th St, participated in Restaurant Week and offered small wings of any style with any burger or sandwich for $19.
Dom, a manager at the Bronx Alehouse, shared that Riverdale Restaurant Week was able to bring together and connect many of the small local businesses within this neighborhood.
“I think it definitely brought us closer together, especially as businesses, and then the community could see us all work together. And we have our own little pocket up here and I think it brought us together and made us more excited.”
The bar crawl was also a great experience for the Bronx Alehouse.
“It was great and it was easy,” Dom said. “They had a great time and a couple of beers. They kept it moving because they had to go to some other spots so it was great for us as a business and it looked like everyone had a great time, including ourselves.”
“The best part about it was that we saw fresh faces to come and try out our restaurant,” Dom said. “I’m just gonna hope that we do it again next year and bigger and stronger and better.”