Everyone is always going on about how being bad feels good. Last week at the Yelp Helps Kickoff Party, Brooklyn proved that DOING good feels much, much better. Hundreds of NYC yelpers descended on Gowanus's gorgeous Green Building, the incredible venue on the corner of Union and Bond, to support some of the best non-profit organizations in the city. With two evenings of awesomeness (Wednesday's White Party and Throwback Thursday), Brooklynites mixed and mingled with representatives of all sorts of organizations dedicated to making NYC a better place. Who was on hand? Who wasn't?
Folks from exemplary organizations like the NY Writers Coalition, Sean Casey Animal Rescue (along with an adorable pup), Make-A-Wish, Children of Promise, Gowanus Canal Conservancy, GreenhomeNYC, Boys Hope Girls Hope NY, We Are All Brooklyn, Big Brothers Big Sisters, GallopNYC, South Brooklyn LDC, St. John's Bread & Life, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, One Brick New York, Literacy Partners, New York Restoration Project, Red Hook Initiative, Right Rides for Women's Safety and the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger were all out, repping the righteous causes.
Thanks to the community's generosity, we raised nearly $5,000! Those donations will be split evenly between the deserving Brooklyn Community Foundation, and the winner of the People's Choice vote: The Red Hook Initiative! Congrats to this hyper-local organization for snagging the prize, and we hope the extra resources help them improve the community even more.
All philanthropy aside, it wouldn't have been a Yelp party without the tastiest local treats! Some of the top-rated restaurants in the area (many from right there in Gowanus) got down with the giving, offering up amazing tastes of their menu. During Wednesday's White Party, as everyone rocked out to the talented hip-hop violinist Phearnone, Ryan F was all about Hunter's "cured salmon with chili oil over avocado yogurt. Amazing!" Meanwhile, the crispy skin and juicy pork of Belli Osteria's porchetta piqued many an interest, and Runner & Stone's blondie was an absolute wonder to behold.
The eats didn't end there. Hats off to HBH Gourmet Sandwiches for pulled pork balls of bliss, and the slamming sausage buns from Prospect Heights newcomer Hawker Bar. For my main man D-Roop, the top treats were either Arancini Bros with their "Buffalo balls – mouthwatering, yummy melt-in-your-mouth Gorgonzola cheese with bits of buffalo chicken and rice," or the succulent shrimp rolls from Luke's Lobster: "Perfectly proportioned and very, VERY delicious." Fort Reno BBQ made believers out of everyone with the mini-mason jars full of a Hot Mess, and all Alyssa P has to say about Ho' Brah Taco Joint is "Mmmmm empanadas full of pulled pork."
Thursday we threw it back and the Notorious R.U.G. held it down on the ones and twos keeping the crowd moving on the improvised dancefloor. Luckily for us, the food was as fresh as the music. For Daniel B, "The Gatsby sandwich from Shelsky's Smoked Fish was primo, #1, the best, tops, amazing, amazeballs, amaze-athon, with fish on top," but Amy L swears that "the BBQ wings with from Super Wings NY stole the show." Likewise, Linda N was conflicted: "That risotto from Piccoli Trattoria was so comforting and those little charcuterie bites from A.L.C. Italian Grocery were perfection."
The tender octopus salad from Dassara Brooklyn Ramen had everyone wishing they had more hands to eat it with, while Elberta Restaurant's catfish tacos kept infatuated customers coming back. Really, there were love connections all over The Green Building: Leo L fell hard for Palo Santo: "The Chef is a genius! Everything he serves is magic!" And for dessert, Phil H has a private message that we're sharing with the world: "Robicelli's I heart you and your sea salt brownies. I am also in lust with those Guinness brownies you had a secret stash of!"
This is Brooklyn though, and what's a bash without a bit of boozing? Luckily for us, local seafood favorite Littleneck jumped behind the bar and offered up their soon-to-be-signature gimlet (look out for their cocktail program launching soon!), made with Tito's Handmade Vodka. The Boston Beer company was on hand [rocking out to the music and] pouring several stellar options including Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Oktoberfest, Angry Orchard Cider and the Curious Traveler Shandy. With all that alcohol, it was a good thing Hint Water and Honest Tea were on hand to hydrate everyone, and a few snacks from Pretzel Crisps didn't hurt a bit.
And that's just the beginning of Yelp Helps! Check out the listing for chances to volunteer with us, and of course, you can head over to the Brooklyn Community Foundation's Do Good Here site to find other opportunities in Brooklyn, as well as all the individual websites for all the awesome causes above.
Did you miss it, or just want to catch your smiling face in the photos? Lucky for you, Melanie Fidler was there to capture the action (peep the photos here), and Amazebooths added their seriously fun flavor as well. Drop your review if you were there, or just see what everyone is saying.
By the way – have you connected with YelpBrooklyn on Twitter or Facebook yet? Downloaded the mobile app? What are you waiting for? How else are you going to find out about the best of Brooklyn…
Until next time, keep those reviews coming, and we'll see you on Yelp!
Peter D and the rest of the NYC Yelp Team