Schenectady Wing Walk serves up saucy, spicy fun

Fourteen restaurants offer samples

Thursday, October 3, 2013
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Pat Platel savors the taste of the Asian garlic chicken wings that were made at Katie O'Byrne's during the 2nd Annual Wing Walk on Thursday evening.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Pat Platel savors the taste of the Asian garlic chicken wings that were made at Katie O'Byrne's during the 2nd Annual Wing Walk on Thursday evening.

— Larnell Holloway and his friend had already tried wings from four restaurants downtown Thursday night when they arrived at Bel Cibo on Jay Street.

Holloway and friend Nykiea Cohen, both 19-year-old Schenectady County Community College students, tried Bel Cibo’s buffalo bleu cheese selection.

Asked by Bel Cibo’s owner Jeanette Massaro what he thought, Holloway was quick to answer — the wing was his favorite so far.

“I’m going to kiss you right on the mouth,” a clearly pleased Massaro responded.

Holloway and Cohen were two of upwards of 200 people to take part in the second-annual downtown Schenectady Wing Walk.

The participants had the chance to sample wings from 14 different downtown businesses, taking with them a ballot to vote for their favorite wing.

With all the sauce, they also got to sample their napkins and wet wipes.

From all the returned ballots — many likely sauce-stained — a winner will be crowned. Results aren’t expected until early next week.

One of the event’s organizers, wing-lover Leesa Perazzo, said the event is another one to bring people downtown. “And it’s just plain fun,” she said.

Perazzo, who is also a City Council member, couldn’t participate because of a budget meeting. But, as she left City Hall, she recalled seeing people almost walk past the Taj Mahal Indian Restaurant across the street, then turn and go in to try their wings.

“That’s proof positive that that was a restaurant they might not have been aware of,” Perazzo said.

And now they are.

Friends Amae Martin and Ursula Mackey, co-workers at Martin’s Union Street salon Amae, chose Nico’s Rooftop Tavern as their first stop. They tried the grilled Jack Daniels BBQ wing.

Martin said she had heard good things about the event and wanted to try it herself.

“It’s great to get people walking around, get people meeting people, they need to do more of these,” Martin said.

As for their fingers and the sauce, they were planning to do their best to keep them clean.

“We’re trying,” Martin said. “But it’s a little difficult.”

Pat Platel made the rounds, arriving at Katie O’Byrne’s to sample that restaurant’s Asian Garlic offering. She only had two to go.

She said she enjoyed the different wings, but some were a little hotter than she expected.

“I think next time I’ll bring water or some bread with me,” Platel said, hoping to counteract the unexpected heat.

Friends Rachael Pietrocola, 24, and Debra Gates, 22, both of Schenectady, and former Schenectady resident Beth Sloan, 53, all set out from the starting point of Proctors.

Pietrocola and Gates were already familiar with many of the wings, including from the 20 North Broadway Tavern, The Grog Shoppe and Cafe NOLA.

All three were looking forward to trying those and others.

“It’s something to do out in Schenectady and that’s always a good thing,” Pietrocola said.

Their first stop was Bel Cibo.

Bel Cibo’s owner Massaro collaborated on her offerings with friend Tina Coon, using Coons’ own “Tina’s WINGIN It” sauce.

As she worked her table in front of her restaurant, Massaro invited those enjoying her wings back to enjoy a meal.

The event, she said, gives people a chance to see downtown Schenectady for what it really is.

“Downtown,” she said, “has become a wonderful place to be.”

For Holloway and Cohen, the experience was one they hadn’t really had before. They came after seeing a flier about it at the college.

“I would definitely come back and try it again,” Holloway said.

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