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Reston Town Center Gives Taste of Reston

More than 20 vendors show off signature dishes at annual festival.

Crowds line up to try the vendors at the Taste of Reston Saturday, June 15, 2013 at Reston Town Center.

Crowds line up to try the vendors at the Taste of Reston Saturday, June 15, 2013 at Reston Town Center. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— Paul Jones of Reston has one secret to success when it comes to the annual Taste of Reston festival: where there’s smoke, there’s food.

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Paolo’s Executive Chef Steve Benincasa demonstrates how to make lobster ravioli at the Taste of Reston Saturday, June 15.

“I follow the smoke because I’m mainly interested in anything that can be grilled,” he said. “Burgers, hot dogs, sausages, seafood, chicken, whatever it is, that’s my main goal while I’m here.” Jones found plenty to explore during the event at Reston Town Center, trying each one in turn.

Over 20 vendors brought out their signature dishes to the festival, many more exotic than simple grilled meat.

“I like to explore different things, things I wouldn’t get at a normal barbecue, or something my friends couldn’t prepare,” said Jeff Fitzsimmons of Herndon. “This year, my clear number one was the prosciutto-wrapped truffle fries from Paolo’s. They were amazing, and unlike anything I’d ever tried before.”

Other visitors tended more toward the dessert items, such as ice cream, smoothies, gelato and more. “I’m here strictly for the sweets,” said Terri Grace of Herndon. “I’m the kind of person that will stick to funnel cakes and fried Oreos at a carnival so I’m easy to please. I absolutely loved the gelato from Pitango.”

George Rodriguez of Sterling has another strategy.

“My first stop is always the biggest line, which drives my wife crazy, but I figure by the afternoon, that’s the place that’s getting repeat business because they’re good,” he said. “This year it was the Peruvian charcoal chicken, which I’m well familiar with from different places in the area. And this one didn’t disappoint.”

While Market Street was lined with food vendors, various entertainment options were available throughout. Stages at each end of Market Street, as well as at the pavilion had live music, dancing and other demonstrations throughout the day.

“I enjoyed some of the cooking demonstrations, particularly the lobster ravioli,” said Jean Murnau of Reston, who watched a demonstration by Steve Benincasa, executive chef at Paolo’s. “I don’t think there are many people who are better qualified to show off a recipe like that, and I can use all the help I can get.”