The 2023 Taste of the South Shore returned to a full-scale, in-person social event filled with food, fun, and fond memories as over 500 guests and top South Shore restaurants gathered for one last time at Lombardo’s in Randolph and took their photo by the iconic chandelier. The event raised over $350,000 in support of children’s camps and programs at the South Shore YMCA.
As the signature fundraiser for the South Shore YMCA, “The Taste” showcases the culinary skills and creativity of the South Shore’s finest chefs, all coming together to donate their time and talents to raise money for “Y kids.” Guests enjoyed beverage tastings and gourmet bites from over 30 restaurants, caterers, bakeries, breweries, and beverage partners.
This year’s event honored the third and fourth generations of the Lombardo family for their generosity, their hospitality, and their commitment to celebrating and supporting community.
Since 1997, The Taste has been held at Lombardo’s in Randolph, and as the landmark building is set to close in September this year, this was the final time the Taste would be held inside its historic ballroom. A photo timeline wall represented major milestones and honorees with over 200 images from the Taste’s 27 years.
“This is the last Taste at Lombardo’s,” said Paul Wahlberg, Owner and Executive Chef of Alma Nove and Wahlburgers, and event co-chair of the 2023 Taste of the South Shore. “The Lombardo family is an institution on the South Shore, and we love them for all the work they have done for the community.”
Longtime friends and supporters of the Lombardo family and the South Shore YMCA gathered in the Jessica Room for the President’s Club Reception to honor the Lombardo family, where South Shore YMCA President & CEO, Paul Gorman, expressed his gratitude.
“There are certain assets that are essential for a community,” said Gorman. “One of those assets is a place to gather. We gather to transition to life’s next phases, like graduations and weddings. We gather at the Y to strengthen families and individuals. We gather here at The Taste tonight so that every child has an equal opportunity to get a jumpstart on life.”
“The Lombardo’s invited us into this building not a client, but as a family member, and we really appreciate that. It is a pleasure to honor the Lombardo’s here tonight.”
“We’re family with the YMCA,” said Vincent Lombardo, CEO of the Lombardo Companies, who shared that giving back to the community was instilled within his family by his parents. “We have been in Randolph for almost 50 years, and we are very thankful that we can give back,” said Lombardo. “The most important things are our commitment to our customers, our devotion to our staff – many who have been with us for 20-30 years — and family. Family is the most important part of our legacy.”
Lombardo’s General Manager, David Lombardo, has closely participated in the planning of The Taste for the twelve years that he has worked for his family’s business. “Giving back to the Y has been an awesome experience,” he shared. “We have created a truly magical event that is going to benefit the kids at the Y. Every year we have grown to make things more exciting and engaging for our guests.”
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Participating chefs and beverage companies brought their “A game” this year, according to event co-chair Julie Ellis, who owns The Chef’s Table with her husband, executive chef Mark Ellis. “This year is so bittersweet, and the chefs are really trying to outdo themselves creatively as it is the last time we will be together in this room,” said Ellis. “The camaraderie and memories that have been built at The Taste throughout the years will last a lifetime.”
Throughout the event, guests enjoyed delicious food and beverage tastings including 110 Grill, Abby Park/Novara, Alma Nove, Bardo’s Bar Pizza, Barrel House Z, Bin Ends, Break Rock Brewing, Castle Island Brewing, Don Julio Tequila, Fuji at WoC, Greenside Grille by Raffael’s, Honey Dew, Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers, Jake’s Seafood, Konditor Meister, Lavishly Dunn Catering, Lombardo’s, Lucca, Montilio’s Baking Company, Osteria Vivo, Restaurant ORO, Rumson’s Rum, Scarlet Oak Tavern, The Chef’s Table, The Parrot, Tosca, Untold Brewing, and Velo Vodka.
Judge Maria Allen, Editor of South Shore Home, Life & Style magazine announced this year’s “Top Taste” award went to newcomer Bardo’s Pizza. “Pickle Pizza is a winner, Dave!” she exclaimed as David Lombardo and Lombardo’s Executive Chef, Eric Caron, accepted the award.
South Shore YMCA Chief Development Officer, Mary Orne, received the first “Heart and Soul” award for her ten years of innovation as head of events for The Taste. As she accepted the award, Orne said, “The Taste simply wouldn’t be possible without our amazing committee, chefs, sponsors, and volunteers, who make the magic happen. And thank you to Lombardo’s for being our home for the Taste for all these years.”
“Events like The Taste and the YMCA feel very much like family,” said David Lombardo. “When I walk into a room with the people at the South Shore Y, I feel like I’m with my family. It’s personal, it’s emotional. And that is never going to stop. That relationship with the Lombardo family and the Y family is always going to be there.”