The tasty side of Morristown, Rotary-style

Noel Valenti, 12, and Lucy Valenti, 8, daughters of Olive Lucy's owner Alan Valenti, at the 2014 Taste of Morristown. Photo by Berit Ollestad

Noel Valenti, 12, and Lucy Valenti, 8, daughters of Olive Lucy’s owner Alan Valenti, at the 2014 Taste of Morristown. Photo by Berit Ollestad

By Kevin Coughlin and Berit Ollestad

Non posso mangiare un altro boccone… ma ci provo!

Or, as we say in English: “I can’t eat another bite… but I’ll try!”

The Italian version is courtesy of Laura Orlando of Lingua e Sapori, one of more than 40 food and liquor establishments from Greater Morristown serving savory sensations at Monday’s rescheduled Taste of Morristown.

Originally set for March 3, 2o14, the event was pushed back because of threatened wintry weather. The move did not seem to take a bite out of attendance at the Hanover Marriott.

“For three hours, you get to try all the best restaurants,” said Jonathan Taylor, president of the Morristown Rotary Club, which has organized A Taste of Morristown for 12 years to raise money for assorted charities.

Photos by Berit Ollestad and Kevin Coughlin. Please click icon below for captions.

Jonathan estimated Monday’s edition attracted 500 guests–who paid $60 apiece–and should net around $25,000 for charitable causes.

“It’s a very healthy crowd,” said Scott Marum, who teamed with fellow Rotarian Allen Hamilton to round up this year’s eateries. Scott counted 36 restaurants, plus nine liquor vendors recruited by Gary’s Wine and Marketplace of Madison.

GOOD EVENING, I'LL BE YOUR HOST TONIGHT...Greeter from Rod's Ranch House at 2014 Taste of Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

GOOD EVENING, I’LL BE YOUR HOST TONIGHT…Greeter from Rod’s Ranch House at 2014 Taste of Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

One of them, Jersey Artisan Distilling, brews rum in Fairfield, Allen noted.

Owner Brant  Braue described it as the state’s first new distillery since Prohibition ended. He uses a traditional distilling process. “That’s the thing about alcohol,” he explained. “If you have to hide it in something, then it isn’t good alcohol.”

Many old favorites were on hand for Monday’s festivities, which included a 50-50 raffle and tricky tray.

Guests scarfed down some 400 empanadas from Raul’s Empanadas Town in the first hour, said owner Raul Silva.  Long lines formed at the Roots Steakhouse table for filets on pretzel rolls. Ribs from Tiffany’s went fast.

Mehndi’s got some raves– ”I came here craving Indian food, and here it is and it’s delicious,”  Priscilla Elms said as she feasted on curried chicken–while butternut squash soup from Blue Morel brought a smile to Morristown Council President Rebecca Feldman.

Newcomers to the roster included The Godfather of Morristown, Havana Koi and ShopRite of Morristown, which was a hit with Jeff Rawding, Grand Marshal of this month’s Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade.

The supermarket’s pulled pork sliders hit the spot for Jeff, who is basking in the parade’s afterglow.

“I’ve been smiling for the whole month of March,” said the architect, who confessed that as someone who prefers working behind the scenes, he was a “reluctant” Grand Marshal. But his reception at the Madison Hotel and the sunny parade were worth all the hectic preparations, he said. “It was a lot of fun.”

So was the Olive Lucy’s booth, where 500 crabcakes were devoured in record time on Monday, according to owner Alan Valenti, who was celebrating a milestone of his own.

Jeff Rawding, Grand Marshal of the 2014 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade, enjoys a ShopRite slider at 'A Taste of Morristown.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Jeff Rawding, Grand Marshal of the 2014 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade, enjoys a ShopRite slider at ‘A Taste of Morristown.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“We just recently celebrated our one-year anniversary this past February, and when you’re in the restaurant business, it’s a big deal to make it through the first year,” said Alan, who brought daughters Noel, 12, and Lucy, 8, to A Taste of Morristown as greeters.

“When you’re a restaurant without a liquor license, not only does your food have to be good, it has to be better because that is the only reason people are going to eat there,” Alan added.

Some of Monday’s guest came looking for specific offerings; others were more adventurous.

“This is our first time at this event. We are in Morristown all the time and we love the restaurants. So we thought this would be a fun night out,” said Wendy Supron of Bernardsville, who came with her husband Greg.

A Taste of Morristown also left a good after-taste with first-timer Cathy Hill, who had fun sampling a variety of foods with people she had not seen in awhile.

“I also enjoyed meeting so many of the restaurant owners and chefs,” she said. “I’ll definitely be visiting Gary’s Wine & Marketplace. The wine was excellent.”

And the conversation wasn’t bad, either. That is the specialty of Lingua e Sapori– which teaches customers how to cook and speak Italian.

To conclude, then, let us just say this about covering A Taste of Morristown

Questo è stato un compito duro, ma qualcuno doveva pur farlo!

MORE ABOUT ‘TASTE OF MORRISTOWN’

Toni Ann Silvestre, Gabriela Rios, Karlene Brandon and Nashema Barbury of the Hibiscus kitchen staff, at the 2014 Taste of Morristown. Photo by Berit Ollestad

Toni Ann Silvestre, Gabriela Rios, Karlene Brandon and Nashema Barbury of the Hibiscus kitchen staff, at the 2014 Taste of Morristown. Photo by Berit Ollestad

 



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