Turning 30, Taste of Tribeca Is Still a Foodie Hit and 'Fun Community Party'

Duane Street, between Greenwich and Hudson, was a busy place on May 18, with crowds eager to sample the cuisine of many local restaurants. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib 

May. 21, 2024

Taste of Tribeca celebrated its 30th anniversary on Saturday with nearly 60 local restaurants serving up samples of some of their trademark dishes. As always, musicians entertained on the Greenwich Street stage, and a plethora of activities kept kids busy. 

Artesano serves up tastes of its Peruvian cuisine. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

The fundraiser for PS 234 and PS 150, a neighborhood institution that draws crowds from well beyond, is the result of a nearly all-school-year effort by parent volunteers from the two schools. More than 1,500 tickets were sold this year, according to the organizers.

“It raises money for the schools for sure. But I love that it brings everyone together for the community’s sake,” said Phil Chenery, a PS 150 parent who co-chaired the event for the second year. “On the day it doesn’t feel like a money-driven thing. It feels like a fun party for the community and I love that.” 

Chess players test their skills in the Kids Zone. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

The big event “really is parents from the two schools coming together to organize, to plan, to run, and to collaborate,” said Karen Arnone, in her third year as the PS 234 parent co-chair. “People are still surprised to hear that.” 

PS 234 Principal Dana Rappaport listed some of the many ways that ticket sales help students at her school, from music programs like Brazilian drumming, chorus and theater, to funding for recess coaches and lunch aides.

Taste of Tribeca drew a crowd of thousands to its 30th anniversary event. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

“So many things,” Rappaport said. “We’re very, very fortunate.”

“I’ve been going to this event even when I was at PS/IS 276 as a teacher and assistant principal,” said Nico Victorino, the PS 150 principal. “When I was lucky enough to become the PS 150 principal,  I couldn’t wait to be a part of this.” 

At his school, Victorino said, the Taste of Tribeca funds arts programs that include a student-run theatrical production, plus professional development for teachers and field trip expenses for children who qualify for free lunch. “It’s amazing,” he said. “Everything helps, and this really contributes to strong school communities.

Looney Lenny, a Taste of Tribeca regular, twists balloons for the kids. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

It was 30 years ago that Rocco and Electra Damato, owners of the former Bazzini a specialty food store and cafe on Greenwich Street (now the site of Sarabeth’s) helped launch Taste of Tribeca with Steven Wils of Harry Wils and Co., a purveyor to restaurants then on Duane Street, and two parents from the Early Childhood Center, Colette Wong and Deborah Pearson. (The Early Childhood Center would become PS 150, which moved in 2022 to Trinity Place. ) At a previous anniversary event, Rocco recalled watching the school rummage sales from his store across the street from the Early Childhood Center in Independence Plaza and thinking there were more effective ways to raise money. With arts funding being cut to public schools,the event began as a way to make up the shortfall, and P.S. 234 joined the effort. The Price of six tastes was $15.

The Counterfeiters perform from the Greenwich Street stage. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

“The first year we made $28,000—a lot better than rummage sales,” Damato said.

Five of the original eateries from that first year were still on hand: Gigino Trattoria, Duane Park Patisserie, The Odeon, Walkers and Bubby’s.

Victorino had bought three tickets, including one for his daughter and one for his partner. But neither could attend, so he had already consumed 10 of his 18 potential tastes by the time the Trib caught up with him. (He said he planned to give away the others to kids.) 

“So I’ve had Odeon, I’ve had Jungsik, I’ve had File Gumbo Bar, Maman, City Winery, the Roxy, American Cut,” he said, naming a few of his samplings. “Yeah, I didn’t eat this morning and I didn’t eat last night,” he added. “Just for this event.”