Newcomers impress at Taste of Alpharetta

An unrelenting downpour made last week's Taste of Alpharetta a bit soggy, but the food feast at Wills Park was still a destination for thousands of Northsiders who picked up samples from some of the area's top eateries, such as Stoney River, Atlantic Seafood Co. and Milton's, along with bites from several newcomers, including Se Vauge and Roam Cafe.

In the food competition, the best appetizer honors went to Five Seasons Brewing for the parfait glass layered with lamb and mashed potatoes. The fine dining entree that drew the most wows came from newcomer Tuscany, whose chefs whipped up halibut with an orange cream sauce and Mandarin orange segments. The overall winner of the evening was another newcomer: Field Good. The bakery specializes in sweets and foods to go, and ran off with the best casual entree (a quiche of bacon and collard greens); best desserts (a trio of chocolate mousse, raspberry tart and a pistachio and cherry cake); and the best presentation award for the aforementioned sweets.

The most exciting news of the night was for Yankees missing their street pretzels. Owners of the Philly Pretzel Factory offered a preview of the twists and sticks that will be made fresh daily when their shop opens off Windward Parkway soon.

• A performance at the new Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park in Alpharetta is a hot ticket, but be forewarned: It comes with severe restrictions against bringing in your own picnic or refreshments. The good news is that hungry folks heading to a concert there will find food courts — just don't leave home without that credit card. An oversized soft pretzel or bag of peanuts is $4; nachos with meat are $6. Soft drinks and bottled water, $4. Personal-sized pizzas, chicken tenders, deli subs, chicken quesadillas and hot dogs are $7. Barbecue sandwiches and grilled angus burgers are $8.

Bartenders will pour premium double cocktails for $14; frozen margaritas and strawberry daiquiris are $13. Red and white wine is $7 per plastic glass; Corona and Heineken are $10. But those who really want to splurge will go for the small single scoop of one of two Bruster's ice cream flavors for $6.

• Mangia for a worthy cause at Maggiano's Little Italy at Perimeter Mall. Through Wednesday, Eat-a-Dish for Make-a-Wish by ordering selected menu items and having a portion of the cost donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Go for the shrimp scampi, lemon pepper halibut, spinach gnocchi, herb chicken or berry tiramisu. Not hungry? Buy a gift card and a donation will be made in your name. The restaurant opens daily at 11 a.m.; 770-804-3313; www.maggianos.com.

Keep Table Talk lively! Send comments and questions to hm_cauley@yahoo/com or call 404-514-6162.

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