By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Local restaurants in the central Connecticut area are gearing up for Bristol’s first-ever “Flavor’d Food Fest: A Taste of Bristol and Beyond.”
In July, Bristol Rising announced the launch of the event, which will focus on food entirely, featuring dishes from Bristol restaurants and organizations as well as other restaurants from other surrounding communities. Organized by Bristol Rising and presented by D’Amato Construction, The Hartford Courant Media Group, The Carousel Museum and the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, Flavor’d is an all-day event centered on food that Bristol has never experienced before. Each food vendor will showcase two to three menu items.
Members of Bristol Rising said they hope Flavor’d Food Fest will become a success similar the Pop Up Piazza event that took place in 2011. The Pop Up Piazza brought at least 15,000 guests to Bristol, showing the possibility of a future “bustling” downtown, according to a pervious press release from Bristol Rising.
Mark Walerysiak, community liaison of Bristol Rising, said around 20 food vendors have stepped up to participate in the event. He said the event not only serves as a great way to introduce those local restaurants to visitors but also serves as a way for those businesses to become more acquainted with Bristol with the possibility of adding to the city’s economic development.
“It will be fun, charming, and quaint,” said Mark. “We encourage people to support local businesses that create what our dining environment is.”
Flavor’d will feature a variety of Bristol restaurants and businesses, including Barley Vine, Artist Tree Teahouse, El Sazon de Mama, Fuji Japanese Steakhouse, and Downtown Café, as well as Monterray, San Gennaro, City Sports Grille, and Sevi’s on North Main. Southside Meat Market and St. Demetrios Greek Parish as well as 457 Mason Jar also will take part in the food fest.
Mike Clawson, co-owner of 457 Mason Jar, said his restaurant will feature pulled pork sliders, barbeque chicken, and carrot cake. A resident of Bristol for 20 years now, Clawson said he hopes the event will market Bristol to outside vendors, showing them that Bristol is a destination for dining. He also said the event can show outside visitors that Bristol can offer some high-quality dining experiences.
“Hopefully it’s going to show that Bristol does have some quality restaurants,” said Clawson, who initially started his food cart business, Mike’s N.C. BBQ & Catering, across from the Court House on North Main Street in Bristol. “Hopefully it is a stepping stone for something bigger and better every year.”
Food vendors from outside of Bristol also will participate in the event, including Namaste India and Sixpence Pie Company of Southington, as well as 50 West of Plainville, and Matthew’s Restaurant of Unionville. Calabro Cheese Corp., a family-owned operation in East Hartford, will showcase a variety of cheeses during the event.
Patrick Miceli, owner of 50 West, said when he heard about Flavor’d, he knew the event would serve as a great fit for his restaurant, especially since Plainville, like Bristol, also has tried to showcase the downtown area as a destination for visitors. Miceli said he hopes the event sheds some light on what Central Connecticut restaurants have to offer, and looks forward to seeing the “crowd it is going to draw.”
Neils van Galen, executive chef of 50 West said guests will have an opportunity to taste several signature menu items, including the 50 West burger, fried oysters, and Cajun chicken sandwich. The 50 West burger serves as the restaurant’s signature burger, which consists of in-house ground beef, baby arugula, Vermont white cheddar cheese and fried onion rings, along with garlic aioli.
“I love that people are trying to give Central Connecticut a chance,” said van Galen. “I’m very excited we’re going to participate in this event.”
Meanwhile, Sixpence offer guests a unique selection of items from its menu, which features savory pies as well as sweet mini ones. From Shephard’s Pie to barbeque pulled-pork to spinach artichoke blue cheese, visitors will taste a variety of pie fillings, including sweet ones like banana with nutella.
Owners Kara More and Lisa Totten look forward to showcasing these pies during the food fest, especially for visitors who are first-time customers of Sixpence.
“I think [event organizers] have done a great job of picking out restaurants people haven’t heard of,” said More, adding how Six Pence has customers from all over Connecticut.
Besides food vendors, Flavor’d Food Fest also will feature a farmer’s market, beer and wine tent, food programming, fooducation, live music and tented seating as well as a grassy picnic and blankets area, and more. The farmer’s market will feature Grezscyk Farm, which offers a variety of produce, fresh eggs, honey and spice, as well as Connecticut Dip Lady, which sells dip, spice and soup mixes. The Flavored Olive, which sells flavored olive oils and vinegars, also will be a vendor at the market.
FOX 61 CT anchor and social media reporter Maggie Slysz will serve as the event’s emcee. Admission is free, and food tasting tickets will be sold on a one dollar to one ticket ratio. The event takes place this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Riverside Extension in downtown Bristol. The rain date is Sept. 14. Parking is available in the Depot Square lot adjacent to the event site, and in municipal lots as well as on the street where available. Handicap parking will be available and roped off on the southern side of Depot square, closest to the site of the event.
For more information, visit http://bristolrising. com/flavord.
By LISA CAPOBIANCO