Tasting by the Sea coming to Long Beach

AOH event supports charitable initiatives and local businesses

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Swingbellys’ co-owner Dan Monteforte at last year’s Taste of Rockville Centre event. Swingbellys is among the more than 20 eateries on the barrier island that are participating in the first Tasting by the Sea event in Long Beach on May 19.
Swingbellys’ co-owner Dan Monteforte at last year’s Taste of Rockville Centre event. Swingbellys is among the more than 20 eateries on the barrier island that are participating in the first Tasting by the Sea event in Long Beach on May 19.
Photo courtesy Dan Monteforte

The Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 17 will host its first annual Tasting by the Sea fundraising event on May 19, featuring menu items and specialties from restaurants across the barrier island.

The event will take place at Long Beach Catholic Regional School and more than 20 eateries are participating — all for a good cause. The fundraiser supports the AOH’s various charitable initiatives, such as donations to the little league, local schools and churches, scholarships and movie screenings on the beach, among others.

“The idea generated with a few of the members and the restaurants working together to do a benefit in Long Beach,” said Greg Schmalenberger, the AOH’s recording secretary and a co-organizer of the event. “It’s to raise money for charitable causes throughout the local area. And for the restaurants, it’s meant to offer people a little bit of a tasting experience from their menus, as well as a chance to meet some of the owners or managers to talk more about their restaurants.”

The idea came about after Schmalenberger and other AOH members in Long Beach volunteered at the annual Taste of Rockville Centre last year, where restaurants serve a sampling of their menus at six-foot linen-covered tables with distinctive signs. The Rockville Centre event, organized by the Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Parade Committee, has grown over the years and more than 30 local restaurants and businesses donate food, wine and beer.

“I’ve been doing Taste of Rockville Centre and helping with them out with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for the past eight years or so, and when Greg and I started talking, I told them they have to come up and see what Rockville Centre does,” said Dan Monteforte, co-owner of Swingbellys, the popular barbecue joint in the West End. “We thought it would be a great fit for the town, especially since the quality of restaurants is growing down here.”

Schmalenberger and AOH member Terence Mulligan, who organizes the local Craic Festival and Rockaway Oyster Fest, reached out to Long Beach businesses, and said that they were immediately receptive.

“Terence and I walked around to the different restaurants,” Schmalenberger said. “They’re very excited and thrilled that this is an opportunity for them to showcase their restaurants. The restaurants are always looking for new customers for the spring and summer season, and this is a way to showcase their seasonal menus. Restaurants will also be giving out promotional coupons or deals.”

Monteforte and others said visitors will have an opportunity to sample menu items from an eclectic mix of restaurants, including Swingbellys, Jetty Bar & Grill, Grotta di Fuoco, Cabana, Beginnings, Speakeasy, Brixx & Barley, Whale’s Tale, Lilly’s of Long Beach, Shakes and Shuckers, Sutton Place, J.A. Heneghan's, Beach House, Point Lookout Ale House, Pammy Cakes, Blacksmith Breads, Mary's Irish Shoppe and many others.

Monteforte said he intends to serve pork dishes carved from an entire hog, as well as barbecue sliders and more. Schmalenberger said that local eateries will offer Cuban sandwiches, jagerschnitzel sliders, pulled pork, chicken curry, several specialty meatballs, brisket grilled cheese, shepherd’s pie, mussels and oysters, gumbo, several pasta dishes chicken skewers and more.

“They’re going to showcase some of their specialties,” Monteforte said of participating restaurants.

Additionally, three breweries, including Barrier Brewing Co., are participating in the event, which will also feature live music.

“The overall goal is to continue raising money to donate throughout the community, which we do throughout the year,” said Schmalenberger, adding that organizers are expecting 200 people at the event. “If it’s successful, we’ll continue it as an annual event.”

The Tasting by the Sea event takes place on Friday, from 7 to 10 p.m., at Long Beach Catholic Regional School, at 735 W. Broadway. Tickets are $40. Visit eventbrite.com to purchase tickets or for more information.