This Saturday at Belmont Park (2150 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont; 718-641-4700), American Pharoah will attempt to become the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown. An estimated crowd of 90,000 racing fans will make the trip out to Long Island, raising stakes that the all-day affair will be the single biggest party of the summer. So what exactly do you do to kill time between races? Consider pulling up a chair at the largest seated restaurant in New York State, Belmont Park’s Garden Terrace.
Here’s a preview of the dishes and drinks you’ll find there starting Thursday and running through Saturday, as well as a few notable places near the park to quell hunger pangs all live-racing season, which lasts until July 19.
At Belmont Park
While mint juleps are the rage at the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Jewel is what you’ll order here. The drink might seem familiar to returning visitors; it’s an adjusted version of its forerunners, the Belmont Breeze and the White Carnation. The drink incorporates bourbon, lemonade, and fresh pomegranate juice, topped off with a lemon twist.
If cocktails aren’t your thing, consider bourbon neat or on ice. Knob Creek created an exclusive bourbon batch only available at the Belmont Stakes. The bar expects to sell out, so it’s unlikely you’ll find this anywhere else but the Belmont Stakes in 2015.
“My whole premise for the menu this year was to give people who come to the track what they really like,” explains executive chef Anelise Miller (aka chef Bell) of Centerplate, the hospitality company that oversees all food and beverage offerings inside the park. One of those favorites is a throwback-style carved beef tenderloin. “It was a staple at Belmont for a very long time.” Miller updated this year’s tenderloin with a honey-rub.
If there’s one dish that embodies New York, it’s spaghetti and meatballs. Miller goes big by offering a half-pound all beef and cheese version, another Garden Terrace signature dish. Platters of traditional Italian cookies will be on offer round out the feast.
Throwback dishes are the theme at this year’s event, but arepas with a variety of fillings are making a debut. Choose from shrimp, pulled chicken, vegetable or cheese, with an optional side of salsa verde.
Outside Belmont Park
For those looking to escape the park, either in defeat or with a celebratory pile of winnings, several restaurants in the area are worth checking out. Plattduetsche Park is a lively German biergarten with plenty of brats and schnitzel in nearby Franklin Square. For those craving Sicilian style pizza,Umberto’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in New Hyde Park and King Umberto specialize in southern Italian cuisine and offer dine in as well as take out.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the day of the race.