The resident ball club is still in search of its first pennant, but Citi Field is a home run with Mets fans.
The Ebbets Field-style brick and Jackie Robinson Rotunda are a nice change of pace from the bright blue walls of Shea Stadium. All of the seats have great leg room and a fantastic view of the field – no more nosebleeds and binoculars. But it’s no secret, the big hit at Citi Field since it opened in 2009 is the food.
And when Major League Baseball brings their 84th annual All-Star Game to Citi Field next month, the Mets and team caterer Aramark want to share the new flavors of baseball with fans from all 29 other teams.
“We’re going to have a lot of out-of-towners. We’re really showcasing nationwide,” Executive Chef Robert Flowers said.
Flowers was on hand Wednesday with other officials to unveil the official All-Star menu to press at the Caesars Club.
Many of the tried and true favorites of the center field food court and vendors littering the concourse will appear on July 16. This includes the zesty chicken pipan tacos from El Verano Taqueria and Grandpa’s sweet Italian sausage from Pat LaFrieda’s Chophouse.
All the usual suspects had their “A” game material with them. Two Boots Pizza, now with five branches in the ballpark, had a special spicy and delectable All-Star Slice pie to go along side it’s usual offerings. Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, Daruma of Tokyo, and Catch of The Day were well represented as well. Also, Brooklyn Burger’s Keith’s Grill brought out their Mexican spiced The Mex Burger in slider form (though sadly none of the stand’s famous Tootsie Pops were given out).
Ensuring that no well-known New York culinary classic will be ignored at the All-Star game, there were plenty of cured cold cut meat sandwiches on hand representing club level concessions. This included a tasty Promenade Club concoction known as The New Yawkah Sandwich that features corned beef, sweet potato fries, bacon, slaw, pickles and Thousand Island Dressing on a pretzel roll. Mmmmm…
Also among the selections available by Pat LaFrieda’s Chop House, located in the Delta Sky360 Club on the Sterling Level, was a nice “higher class” version of a surf and turf combination of Thyme Seared Long Island Striped Bass, and Chef Carved Grilled Black Angus Skirt Steak.
These staples, Flowers said, make eating at a Mets game better than at any other MLB venue. Most ball clubs do offer some specialties and variety – a significant upgrade from even 10 years ago, he added, but not to the extent they do in Queens.
“We’re able to show them it’s not just about the cold hot dog and flat beer,” the chef said.
Hand-formed from a blend of ground beef, pork and veal and simmered in sweet red sauce for hours, the meatballs are topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella and fried basil and served on a long sesame seed roll.
The hero, in sampler slider form, was a delicious taste of classic Italian sandwich making. If it does end up being a part of Citi Field’s permanent menu, perhaps an addition to Mama’s of Corona’s selection if not up in the clubs, it would be a welcome addition to the lineup.
Tentatively priced at $14, the sandwich combines recipes from Flowers’ Italian ancestry.
“[It’s] something that’s ballpark enough but not pretentious,” he said.
The All-Star game will be the first chance for baseball fans to dig into one of these heros, but it may not be the last. Flowers confirmed they are considering keeping it on the menu if the logistics work out.
“We feel once people taste it, they won’t get enough of it,” he added.
The new menu also includes new sweet treats and sushi offerings.
Much of the new menu will be used for MLB’s pre-game party outside the stadium, although Flowers said it’s a limited-time affair. All of the new offerings, except maybe his hero, will permanently hit the showers once the All-Star game is over.
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Steve Rogers also contributed to this report.