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Photos by Paul Quitoriano

Why One of New York’s Top Chefs Loves Eating at Citi Field

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Eating at the ballpark makes chef Josh Capon nostalgic. Growing up in Rockland, Mets games were a family affair — down to the food. "We'd bring our own hero sandwiches," he says, recalling trips to Shea Stadium with his grandfather, stepdad, and brother. "We didn't rely on what the stadium could offer — it was kind of crap back in the day."

Capon with the Volvo XC60

Times have changed. Citi Field replaced Shea Stadium, last year the franchise won its first pennant in 15 years, and stadium food is no longer crap. Capon, a die-hard Mets fan and the executive chef and partner behind Manhattan's Lure Fishbar, El Toro Blanco, B&B Winepub, Sessanta, and Bowery Meat Company, recently opened Bash Burger on the Citi Field concourse, joining New York restaurateurs who have revolutionized concessions at the stadium.

"It started outside of the ballpark," Capon says on a muggy day in Queens, on a tour through Citi Field's restaurants. "People started eating better and wanting better options, even at a ball game. Now people have really rallied around it — you can eat junk, but it's fun junk."

The margherita pizza at Papa Rosso.
Milk chocolate hazelnut, lime basil, and black raspberry Italian ices with the mushroom and cheese pizza.

At Papa Rosso, a pizzeria, Capon claps the back of executive chef John Karangis before tearing into a personal pie. The pizza oven was custom-made to fit the Citi Field space — and made to replicate the wood-fired ovens of Italy. The piping hot margherita pizza tastes like nothing you'd expect at a baseball stadium. "It's Neapolitan with just that hint of New York that you want from a pizza," Capon says between bites. Topped off with a milk chocolate hazelnut Italian ice — it tastes like a frozen tub of Nutella — it can be hard to remember you're in Flushing, not Naples.

Shackburgers, SmokeShacks cheeseburgers, and cheese fries from Shake Shack.

Next is Shake Shack because no New Yorker can walk past the famed burger joint. "It's never a bad idea to have a Shackburger," Capon says. But the chef, a true meathead, goes for his one true love: the Pat LaFrieda filet mignon sandwich. He's blown away: "Where else are you going to get filet mignon on a sandwich at a baseball game?" With caramelized onions and loads of Monterey Jack and served on a ciabatta bun, this is the kind of sandwich you're eager to sink your teeth into.

Fuku, David Chang's chicken-sandwich shop, just opened in Citi Field, and that's Capon's final stop. The famous spicy chicken sandwich brings the heat, but it turns out the real scorchers are the French fries. No ordinary ballpark spuds, these came with a dusting of jalapeño powder on top that'll shock your taste buds. It's the kind of spice Capon can get into.

Clockwise from left: Citi Field; the filet mignon sandwich from Pat LaFrieda; sharing bites in the stadium seats; the Fuku spicy chicken sandwich.

Clockwise from left: Citi Field; the filet mignon sandwich from Pat LaFrieda; sharing bites in the stadium seats; the Fuku spicy chicken sandwich.

"There's no question," the chef says. "Citi Field is the stadium that brought ballpark food to the next level." Capon's Mets are getting ready to take on the Nationals, but there's still time before first pitch. The chef used the chance to take another lap around the concourse — the only downside of all that great food is that you've got to walk it off somehow.

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