Cooking Up Something New At Riis
The smell of fresh made bratwurst, knockwurst, and more German delicacies will waft over the ocean air and the clink of cold beer glasses will ring in the First Annual Oceanfront Oktoberfest at Riis Park. The event bills itself as “the first and only oceanfront Octoberfest in New York City!” It boasts something for all ages, live music and free admission, and will be happening at Riis Park’s historic Bay 9 Pavilion on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 10 and 11, from 10 a.m. to closing time. Under that banner of “Beer! Brats! Beach!” the Riis Park Beach Bazaar will also be launching its new partnership with restauranteurs Wildfeast and Rockaway’s newest eating adventure. Based on the success of the Bazaar’s overwhelming first summer season, they are going to expand with the first off-season eatery at Riis.
Here are some of his thoughts:
Dan Guarino: Was Rockaway Park Beach Bazaar even more successful than you had expected it to be?
Belvy Klein: Going in we weren’t really sure what to expect - new location, being outside, being on the beach, etc, etc. But things turned out pretty awesome and definitely more successful than we expected. The support and enthusiasm, especially from the locals, was really great. The National Park Service and Park Rangers have told us that they hadn’t seen Riis attendance levels this high in 25+ years and that based on parking lot car totals, they estimate that the park was doing 30,000 to 40,000 visitors a day on the busy July and August weekends. We are very proud to have been a part of that and look forward to next season!
DG: How did the idea of opening an offseason venue come about?
Klein: We had been tossing around ideas for a while. We were like - we have this really cool, old Art Deco pavilion year round, are we just going to leave it empty and shuttered in the off season? The thinking was, well there’s not a ton of restaurants out here, Wildfeast does amazing seafood, there’s the ocean, there’s the beach - why wouldn’t you give this a shot? So the restaurant/bar collaboration between us and Wildfeast just made sense.
DG: What will the atmosphere of the new place be like? And are there any ‘must-try’ dishes you’ve tried so far?
Klein: We’re putting in about 30 to 40 stools along the front counter and 6 to 8 tables for seatings. We’re installing multiple flat screens so we can do Saturday and Sunday NFL brunch, hockey, college basketball, plus you have both the Mets and Yankees hitting the playoffs right around the corner.
You’ll be able to watch the game or watch the ocean, all while enjoying the freshest and most New York-local farm to table ingredients available. As far as favorite dishes, man there’s so many...
Personally, I think the grilled monkfish sandwich is out of this world and I’m really looking forward to Long Island clam chowder on those cold January and February days! Wildfeast also does amazing wild game (pun intended) dishes. We are all looking forward to the free range split roasted lamb, smoked duck breast and bar bites like pulled pork sliders and sous vide chicken wings. Damn, I’m getting hungry just saying this!
(Note: Wildfeast will also offer a kidfriendly menu and more than 15 items priced under $10.)
DG: What was your experience like in Rockaway this summer?
Klein: Well like I was saying earlier, it was awesome. I mean Rockaway Beach Volleyball League - c’mon! We made so many new friends and acquaintances, had so many killer vendors, had so many cool shows, and the weather even cooperated (mostly). Some of the highlight concerts for me were Maku Soundsystem, The Supertones, Rebel City Radio, Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra, Mykki Blanco and yesterday’s Season Finale show with So So Glos which was just awesome. We can’t wait for the 2016 RPBB season!
DG: What is your favorite thing about Rockaway?
Klein: I mean the physical beauty of the peninsula goes without saying and I’ve loved coming out here since I was a kid.
But what really struck me is the sense of community and pride everyone has of being here.
Sandy and Irene really did a job on the community so to witness it really coming back the way that it has is inspiring.
Wildfeast initial opening hours will be from 3 to 10 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, with Saturdays and Sundays featuring a 10 a.m. brunch. Parking is free.