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What's New at Summerfest?

Gelato confections and massive hot dogs join the lineup

Jun. 28, 2012
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At least one new food item is guaranteed to create a spectacle at Summerfest this year. Martino's, a longtime staple of the festival's Miller Lite Oasis area, is now selling a nearly 2-foot-long Chicago hot dog, a 1-pound link heaping with tomatoes, onions, relish, mustard and full pickle wedges. The dog is so big that Martino's had to create a special vessel to carry it in, a long, durable boat with a carrying handle.

“It's a $25 hot dog, so it's by no means the new greatest value at the Summerfest grounds, but it's something that everybody is talking about already, and people will be talking about it when they see it at the grounds,” says Eric Heinritz, Summerfest's director of food and beverage operations. “Each one will come with a plastic knife. There will be a couple people up to the challenge of eating the whole thing themselves, but most people will be cutting it up into pieces. It's the equivalent of five Chicago dogs from Martino's, so it can feed a family.”

A new dessert offering might not tip the scale like Martino's mega-sized hot dog, but it's bound to turn some heads in its own right. The new gelato stand La Coppa will be serving “spaghetti gelato,” a dish that could be mistaken for a bowl of pasta from a distance. It's a pile of vanilla gelato, run through a spaghetti press and covered with whipped cream, then topped with strawberry sauce and shaved white chocolate. For festivalgoers who prefer their snacks on a stick, La Coppa will also offer a gelato trio, three 1-ounce gelato scoops covered in a hardened glaze, including a latte-flavored gelato covered in white chocolate and a yogurt gelato glazed with strawberry. La Coppa will open a year-round Bayshore location in July.

Sil's Mini Donuts has been a staple at many of Henry Maier Festival Park's ethnic festivals, but 2012 will mark its inaugural year at Summerfest. The vendor will be frying up fresh donuts between the Summerfest Rock Stage and the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, which should comfort grieving East Siders who have been craving a cinnamon-sugar fix since Sil's North Avenue location closed this spring.

Summerfest's experiment with sit-down dining continues this year. Saz's Dockside Barbecue has taken over the restaurant space that formerly housed Sazama's Lakeside Grille. The restaurant will still offer full wait service, but its menu will be more casual than Sazama's, and will include Saz staples like pulled pork, chopped brisket, baby-back ribs and the restaurant's signature sour cream and chive fries.

And finally, Leinenkugel's has created a special beer to commemorate Summerfest's 45th anniversary. The brewery's Summer Festeweizen 45th Anniversary Ale is a Bavarian-style hefeweizen, which they'll serve at several stands throughout the festival grounds.


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