DRACUT — Get your forks and knives ready — “Dining Around Dracut” is back for another year.
The annual event, sponsored by the Dracut Rotary Club, features food from local eateries based all around the Merrimack Valley, and is scheduled for March 2 at Lenzi’s. The Rotary Club is now in its fourth year of sponsoring the event, according to President Frank Antifonario, who said it was previously run by nonprofit Circle of Friends for more than a decade.
Proceeds from the event help support the club’s various causes, such as Elimination of Polio Worldwide, the Dracut Food Pantry, the Dracut Scholarship Foundation, End Hunger Now, and Catie’s Closet. The club aims to raise $20,000 to $25,000 this year after bringing in $12,000 last year, Antifonario said.
“Every month we get letters from organizations and individuals that needed funding for, you know, anything,” Antifonario said. “And let’s put it this way — the Rotary Club rarely, rarely refuses anybody.”
Thirty-two restaurants based in Dracut, New Hampshire and across the Merrimack Valley have signed on for the event, such as Brother’s Sports Bar and Grille in Dracut, FireWater Tavern in Tewksbury, Casa Blanca Mexican Restaurant in Methuen, Gourmet Bites Catering and Cafe in Salem, N.H., Burton’s Bar and Grill in Westford, Bahama Breeze Island Grille in Tyngsboro and Sweet Lydia’s in Lowell.
Samples of signature dishes from each organization will be on offer, in addition to a cash bar, live music, a silent auction and a door prize. The price of admission — $25 in advance or $30 at the door — includes unlimited sampling, as well as a program book with coupons for area businesses and an entry for the door prize, which in the past has been a large flat-screen television.
In addition to giving attendees the chance to sample eateries from across the region in one place, the event is a good opportunity for local restaurants to connect with the community, said Rachel Antifonario, who is also a member of the Rotary Club.
“The people that represent the different restaurants enjoy it,” she said. “They like being there, they find it fun speaking with people.”
“It’s good exposure,” Frank Antifonario added.
Throughout the event, attendees can vote for their favorite restaurants in several categories, including best appetizer, best entree and best dessert, according to the Antifonarios. Restaurants are also judged on presentation, with that category scored by a few impartial judges, they said, and the winners of each receive a special commemorative plaque.
Frank Antifonario said he thinks the event continues to be popular partially because it provides a bright spot in the long New England winter.
“You just got through the winter and everybody’s inside and it’s a Monday night in March,” he said. ” … It’s like the first thing that you’re starting off your spring with.”
Dining Around Dracut is scheduled for March 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Lenzi’s on Merrimack Avenue. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door and are available for purchase online at eventbrite.com or in person at Albert Daigle Insurance, Alexander’s Pharmacy, Dracut Hardware, The Fox Cut Salon, Lenzi’s, Lupine Designs and Szczepanik Insurance.
For more information, visit www.dracutrotaryclub.org.
The participating restaurants are: 978 Cafe in Dracut; A-Brews Tap and Grill in Dracut; Bahama Breeze Island Grille in Tyngsboro; Brickhouse Pizza in Dracut; Brother’s Sports Bar and Grille in Dracut; Brown and Budnik Meats in Dracut; Burton’s Grill and Bar in Westford; Casa Blanca Mexican Restaurant in Methuen; Dracut House of Pizza and Seafood in Dracut; Edible Arrangements in Methuen; Ella May’s Country Kitchen and Bakery in Dracut; FireWater Tavern in Tewksbury; Gourmet Bites Catering and Cafe in Salem, N.H.; Grazie at Four Oaks in Dracut; Harrows Chicken Pies in Tewksbury; Heavenly Donuts in Dracut; LaSanta Tacos and Tequila in Tyngsboro; Lenzi’s in Dracut; Lisa’s Family Pizzeria in Dracut; Mama’s Italian Restaurant in Dracut; Not Your Average Joe’s in Methuen; Outback Steakhouse in Tyngsboro; Owen and Ollie’s in Dracut; Plantz Cafe in Dracut; Primo Pizza Restaurant in Dracut; Shaw Farm in Dracut; Sugar Coated Bakery in Dracut; Sweet Lydia’s in Lowell; Tavern on the Line in Dracut; The Village Inn in Dracut; and Trader Joe’s in Nashua.