July 19, 2010
Downtown serves up fare
4th annual Taste of Downtown draws crowd with food, drink and music
Groton residents Phil and Colleen Armstrong left the Dark Horse Tavern on Saturday afternoon after sampling wine slushies during A Taste of Downtown, which drew people to Main Street to taste local fare throughout the day.
The red sangria drink made with crushed ice and strawberry puree is a signature summer drink, said bartender Molly Sanjule.
But for the Armstrongs, coming to the event was more about returning to their roots. Phil said he remembers partying in the Dark Horse as a SUNY Cortland student.
“We came here to support this event and we like coming to Cortland,” he said.
Twenty-five restaraunts participated in the fourth annual tasting tour of downtown. In order to taste the fare, patrons purchased $10 wine glasses that advertise the event and could then be used as a free pass to sample any of the food and drinks offered by businesses.
Phil raved about the New Orleans Pasta, which was being offered in generous samples next door by Hairy Tony’s. Owner Tony Caruso said the pasta “brings a little taste of New Orleans to Cortland” as he dished out samples of the steaming, spicy sausage and shrimp laden pasta.
Down the street, the long-awaited Brix Pubaria opened for the day, offering visitors a look at the new interior.
“Wow,” exclaimed Cortland resident Rosie Rosenthal as he came out of the restaurant.
“I remember when it was a soda fountain,” Rosenthal said, referring to the establishment at that location until the 1970s. Rosenthal said he liked how the wall formerly behind the bar was taken out to open up the place into one big room.
Rosenthal also liked the pizza, saying he was hungry so it tasted especially good.
Robby Petrella, one of the owners, said he expects Brix to open officially by Friday.
Petrella said the restaurant has hit delays along the way with obtaining a state liquor license and completing interior construction work. The management has been hiring and training staff.
“We are letting people know we’re here. I know it’s been a long wait,” Petrella said.
The pubaria featured a spicy Chipotle Chicken Pizza Saturday and the Prickly Pear Margarita, a tangy drink which contains fresh pear pulp.
The thin and crispy pizza crust and the spicy sauce on the pizza left a savory flavor in the mouths of many patrons.
Eunice Plannamento, who came back to town with former roommates Lorinne Dowd and Ginny Vrabel, said she wished Cortland had a place like Brix when they were all students at SUNY Cortland 30 years ago.
“It is a beautiful place, it looks like it will be a very nice place,” Plannamento said.
At the SeventySeven Club, another new establishment on Main Street, owner Damian Mancini was serving the pool hall’s soft serve, fat-free orange frozen yogurt.
At about 1 p.m. Mancini estimated he had given out more than 100 samples.
“We have one of our monthly pool tournaments, too, so we are doing the whole thing at once,” Mancini said, gesturing to the crowded pool hall.
At Lisa’s Pane Di Casa, Lisa Currie handed out samples of her chocolate chip cookies, saying last year she gave out her signature scones.
Pita Gourmet owner Carlos Karam said he decided to give out his sesame candies this year, both pistachio and chocolate.
“We would like to have people know about it more and more and try something new,” Karam said.
At the Blue Frog Cafe, owner Carina Murphy served Strawberry Mango Smoothie Bellinis to a seemingly endless line of patrons. The drinks are a mix of sparkling white wine and a crisp fruit blend.
The drink will be the Blue Frog Cafe’s signature drink from now on, said manager Angela Wilde.
Wilde said the idea is a twist on a champagne drink that originates in Venice.
Jodi Marie Ertl sat outside the Blue Frog after ordering another round of the drink, calling it “marvelous.”
“We are trying to figure out how to do this by the pool,” Ertl said.
Her friend Jodi Marcellus called the drink “dreamy.”
At the Community Restaurant, rack of lamb was on the menu. Chef Matt Carle served up the tender, medium-rare ribs.
Carle said the lamb was marinated in rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. The key to keeping it tender is not over cooking it, he said, allowing the juices to remain in the meat.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe