Free Films at Tompkins (Photo: Joshua Davis for The Local East Village)

Free Films at Tompkins (Photo: Joshua Davis for The Local East Village)

Dinner theater is often regarded as cheesy, and not in a good way. Cinemas serving food with flicks can be pricey (and let’s be honest, sometimes a little too air conditioned)– also, where’s that food even coming from? One of those Wolfgang Puck airport terminal franchises? Let’s be real, the answer’s probably much worse than that. So what is one to do when they want to enjoy the blissful multitasking of watching moving pictures with their eyes while shoving deliciousness into their mouths?

Never fear, for you don’t have to go much further than Tompkins Square Park to get exactly that. Howl! Arts’s Free Films In Tompkins series, which has been screening films such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Do The Right Thing every Thursday since early July, is finishing strong with their grand finale: Romeo + Juliet plus some digestive comfort to get you through all that star-crossed tragedy.

In the past, the organizers have encouraged attendees to pack their own picnic to enjoy during the films, but this time they’re taking full advantage of your inability to pack a proper picnic basket, like, ever. So just be honest with yourself and admit that the last time you had functioning tupperware was the last time you brought work to lunch, which was a very long time ago indeed. This Thursday, during a screening of Baz Luhrmann’s classic adaptation of Romeo + Juliet, a gaggle of local restaurants belonging to the newly-created Eastville Restaurant Collective will be hosting a food fair, replete with many noshin’ options.

The selections will be a few steps above your average self-dig popcorn cart: oysters on the half shell, guacamole injected with a bourgie flair thanks to the addition of pickled jalapeños, lox sandwiches on homemade sourdough (free floating yeast = so hot right now), and eggplant-parmesan dip are just a smattering of the spread that will be there for you to devour. After all, Romeo and Juliet were classy lovers (or just upper-class, heh) who would never dare sully their fingers with hydrogenated oils; they were too busy lamenting their forbidden love or essentially taking couple selfies like the angsty teens they really were.


Though the film is free, the food unfortunately is not (we can dream), but it’ll be pretty, pretty affordable: everything is priced under $10—some items are as cheap as $2.50—which isn’t bad for classy snacks from spots like Maiden Lane, Good Night SonnyBoulton & Watt, and Virginia’s. But if you want to sneak in a dollar slice, we respect that choice too.

Continuing on the tradition of featuring live music before the film, the reggae/rock/soul three-piece Faith (carrying a bit of the old East Village spirit, having played CBGB in the ’90s) will play a set at 7:30 pm. And if that’s not enough to keep you occupied, you can always take a gander at the new 32-unit condo close by. Careful that the distinct smell of gentrification doesn’t get into your, well, fancy food.

Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet will screen at sundown as part of Free Films in Tompkins on Thursday, August 11 in Tompkins Square Park, with live music by Faith at 7:30pm. The food fair will be going on from 5-9pm on Avenue A between 9th and 10th Streets.