NYC: More Better Food in the Parks

Rouge Tomate’s new food cart, which will be near the Central Park entrance at Fifth Avenue and East 64th Street. photo by Glenn Collins


Rouge Tomate’s new food cart, which will be near the Central Park entrance at Fifth Avenue and East 64th Street. photo by Glenn Collins

As Rouge Tomate, the haute Manhattan restaurant, took its new $30,000 food cart out for a spin in Central Park on Wednesday, the Fatty empire, that restaurant collection of Crabs and ’Cues, unveiled a new food cart that will inhabit the park’s Bethesda Terrace as early as next week.

And while Eddie’s Pizza Truck was distributing slices of its bar pies to queuing patrons, its owners announced that they will soon establish trucks in two new locations: Duane Square in SoHo (in mid-July) and Richard Tucker Square by Lincoln Center (later this year).

The source of this information was a midday be-in of 14 food trucks and carts assembled at the Arsenal, the headquarters of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. At a media event celebrating some of the Parks Department’s new culinary offerings, newly designated concessionaires and park regulars doled out free samples and sold menu items to reporters and hundreds of park visitors who happened to wander past.

“We are expanding our culinary offerings to also reflect the varied palates of our visitors,” said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, who said he had ramped up his concession program to attract an array of high quality, diverse and healthy food to the city’s parks.

The new Fatty vehicle is called Pullcart (for pulled pork) and it, too, cost $30,000, expensive for a stand without its own locomotion. Rick Camac, a managing partner of the Fatty Crew group of five New York restaurants, said two of its offerings, unique in the Fatty universe, would be $9 pulled-pork sandwiches and $5 chicharrones. It will also offer the Fatty Dog ($7) and a grilled-cheese sandwich with two smoked cheeses ($8).

The Rouge Tomate cart is the mobile counterpart of the 80-seat Belgian-owned restaurant on East 60th Street. The cart will be established four blocks north late next week, at the top of the steps that lead down to the Arsenal in Central Park. It was designed by the architectural firm of Bentel & Bentel, which created Faustina and won an American Institute of Architects award for designing Craftsteak.

The cart was dispensing free samples of chilled white gazpacho with green grapes, almonds, whole-milk yogurt and sourdough bread (for the texture). Its offerings will include $6 grilled cheese sandwiches (with year-old Grafton cheddar) and $8 BLT’s on whole-wheat bread from Amy’s Bread, with heritage tomatoes and Woodlands Park, nitrate-free, free-range and chestnut-finished bacon.

“We’ll have a Pacojet to spin our own shakes in the cart,” said Peter Esmond, the director of operations for Rouge Tomate, who said the cart will be environmentally friendly, with two solar panels on its roof and one propane tank for its grill – and no gas generator, since it will tap into the parks department’s electric grid.

The department also announced that Screme Gelato — which wasn’t present — will be serving up cold desserts at Verdi Square on the Upper West Side.

Also on hand was People’s Choice Mobile Kitchen, which will soon provide traditional West Indian cuisine at Pelham Parkway in front of Jacobi Medical Center, and the Desi Food Truck, which will soon be serving Indian food at Soho Square in Manhattan. Among those serving customers as well were Good to Go Organics ($3.75 organic beef Applegate hotdogs), which has carts on the East Drive and Center Drive of Central Park; Cake & Shake ($3 cupcakes including the yummy nut peanut butter number with banana mousse and milk chocolate frosting), which is in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Kelvin Natural Slush Company (small slushes: $3.50), which will be at Little Red Square park in Greenwich Village later this summer, and the Sigmund Pretzel cart, which is paying the city $472,164 over the next five years to sell pretzels and pretzel sandwiches in front of the Metropolitan Museum.