Waterzooi Belgian Bistro in Garden City toasted its 20th anniversary with a festive six-course dinner on January 28 billed as the Knights of the Round Table Beer Dinner. The packed event also celebrated the Knighthood of Waterzooi co-founder Chris Werle, who was knighted by the Belgian Brewers Guild at a ceremony in Brussels last fall.
Werle, who is also a co-founder of the five Croxley Ales beer bars on Long Island and Brooklyn, was honored for his contributions to promoting Belgian food, beer and culture over the last 25 years. Longtime friends Werle and Jeff Piciullo opened the first Croxley Ale House in their hometown of Franklin Square in 1993 and were on a mission to bring great beer to LI. They opened a second Croxley location in Rockville Centre in 1996 but after a trip to Belgium with their friend, chef Ed Davis, the idea for Waterzooi was born.
“The trip to Belgian really opened our eyes to the variety and quality of Belgian beer,” said Werle. “We were blown away by the culture around beer and food and decided to open a traditional Belgian bistro to bring that culture to Long Island.”
Twenty years later, Waterzooi is recognized as one of the top Belgian restaurants in the country and has the Island’s largest Belgian beer selection, with 23 Belgian brews on tap. One of the sponsors of the Knights of the Round Table dinner, sales director Dan Leeman of Belgian beer distributor Global Beer Network, said Waterzooi was a pioneer in spreading appreciation of Belgian beer on Long Island and beyond.
“Without Waterzooi we would not have the market for Belgian beer in the U.S. that we have today,” said Leeman.
The dinner featured items from Chef Davis’ original menu at Waterzooi, including griddled wild boar sausages with a sun-dried cherry kriek sauce and salmon wellington topped with fois gras and lobster demi. Of course the menu included Waterzooi’s calling card and Belgium’s national passion, moules frites.
Among the beers that accompanied the courses were a special 20th Anniversary Ale, a robust amber tripel ale, brewed by the Brasserie de Silly artisanal brewery in Belgium. The sumptuous dinner was capped off with warm Belgian chocolate cake paired perfectly with rich Gulden Draak Imperial Stout.
For more information on Waterzooi Belgian Bistro see waterzooi.com.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.