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Archive for the ‘Restaurant Reviews’ Category

The Soul-Full Eating Award Nominees and Restaurant Reviews

Each and every eatery that appears on this list typifies, at least in part, the Soul-Full Eating axiom:

Eat with love, what’s grown with love, prepared with love and served with love.

The restaurants, café’s, juice bars and markets listed here are proof that by showing up to your table with love, chefs, servers and customers can share a Soul-Full meal, based in awareness and appreciation. But don’t take our word for it. Visit any of the locations listed below and have a Soul-Full Eating experience of your own!

Here’s how our rating system works:

SOOOOO! Good (5 Os) is our highest ranking. This establishment meets, and may even exceed, our Soul-Full Eating standard of excellence, and you can most definitely expect to have a superior and love-filled eating experience here. At the very least, the stage has been very well set for you to show up fully to a delightful experience.

A SO rating (one O): The experience you’ll have here is above average and meets the Soul-Full Eating criteria on some accounts. The chefs and servers intend to provide their patrons with conscious sustenance, making it worthy of your personal exploration.

Our SOO (2 Os) and SOOO (3 Os) and SOOOO (4 Os) ratings correlate very closely to a typical 5 star restaurant rating system. We encourage you to patronize and visit the establishments mentioned, to give us your feedback and to share your personal opinions and experiences with us.

Come back often to view updates and additions and please offer us your Soul-Full Eating Award nominations.

Enjoy and Bon Appétit!

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SOOOOO Good: Grezzo (Boston, Massachusetts)

Grezzo Boston

Our Rating: SOOOOO Good!
Address: 69 Prince Street Boston, MA 02113
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 5pm – close
Contact: 857-362-7288, grezzorestaurant.com

Review via Maureen Whitehouse

The sign outside reads:

Welcome to Grezzo!
Grezzo is more than just a place to eat.
Our food is prepared with love and a deep caring for what we put into our bodies. We select the finest ingredients and the freshest high quality produce, nuts and seeds.
We support the slow food movement, local farmers, sustainable agriculture and environmentally friendly products.
Please be our guest and enjoy these high vibration foods that will enhance your well-being, improve the quality of your life and allow you to create optimum health.

Being treated to dinner at Grezzo was one of my most favorite birthday gifts this year. What a jewel of a surprise… tucked away in Boston’s North End, amongst quite a few other 4 and 5 star eateries, this little luminary outshines them all.

It’s bold, to say the least, to fly in the face of convention and open a raw food restaurant in Boston’s Italian North End, notoriously known as the birthplace of Prince Spaghetti. Perhaps one can imagine the occasional al dente dish being served here – but raw!

food at Grezzo

At Grezzo (pronounced Gray-Zo, meaning “raw” in Italian) every dish is 100% organic, unless it is absolutely not available as an organic product. This elegant, upscale yet cozy and inviting restaurant serves food that is at once mind expanding and an extraordinary feast for the senses. Set in warm rustic tones, the intimate 28-seat candlelit restaurant with copper tables and crushed cranberry colored chairs specializes in organic, raw vegan cuisine.

A delightful menu combined with a highly responsive staff and engaging atmosphere made the overall experience sublime. I’d just returned from presenting my Soul-Full Eating book signings, lectures and workshops in both LA and NYC, sampling scrumptious morsels in some of the finest conscious eating establishments on the planet, and I was astounded to find that Grezzo not only rivaled but surpassed most of the well-known, revered and even iconic names in the vegan and raw food world.

food at Grezzo

It’s clear that Grezzo owner, Alissa Cohen, is not only a visionary but an educator. Author of the book, Living on Live Food, her devotion to both raw food cuisine and her clientele is obvious. Her wonderfully gregarious wait staff is well trained in the art of presentation, engagingly explaining in mouthwatering detail each dish as it is presented. All questions about this, strange to some, raw food menu are met with a smile tinged with a twinkle of delight, most especially I noticed, each time the phrase, “and nothing is heated above 112 degrees” is uttered. Although the pace was fast the Satuday night I dined at Grezzo, it never felt frenetic and Chef Leah DuBois also seemed graciously available to guests after the most evident dinner rush had subsided—perhaps because for her there is no such thing as “slaving over a hot stove.”

Grezzo dessert

The concept is that green, organic and locally grown vegan, raw food served in an upscale style and setting can be inviting to anyone. Their menu changes daily and reflects the availability of locally grown, organic, high quality, living foods.
As the daughter of an Italian mother, the one and only suggestion I’d make to possibly improve the dining experience here is that cannolis be a permanent part of the Grezzo menu… however I did notice that there’s a recipe for them (that I am determined to make) in Allisa’s recipe book, so there’s hope!

Either way, I’m certain I’ll return to Grezzo again and again when visiting family in Boston. Bravo Allisa. Grazie!!

All photos courtesy Grezzo.

SOOOOO Good: Santa Monica Farmer’s Markets (Calfornia)

santa monica farmer's market via Bliss Priss on flickr

Our Rating: SOOOOO Good
Address:
All Santa Monica Farmers Markets are open rain or shine – year round!
Wednesdays – At 2nd and Arizona 8:30am – 1:30pm
Saturdays – At 3rd and Arizona 8:30am – 1 pm
Saturdays – At Virginia Ave. Park 8am – 1pm
Sundays – At 2640 Main Street 9:30am – 1 pm
Contact:
310-458-8712 ext. 2 (ask for Darra Adler), smgov.net/farmers_market/

Review via Maureen Whitehouse

Simply put, it doesn’t get any better than this. Imagine stand after stand of farmers with big smiles, wide-open hearts and the dirt from last night’s pick (which they’re selling today) still under their fingernails. Row after row of eye-poping, organic, pesticide-free, sustainably grown produce.

On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, throngs of tuned-in food enthusiasts, including not only LA town folk but (often celebrity) chefs, browse the goodies available from the small scale, quality-obsessed farmers at the famed downtown Santa Monica’s farmers’ market. Friendly and knowledgeable vendors (many of them are the farmers’ family members) are happy to explain the difference between a pluot and a plum (a puot is ½ plum, ½ apricot) and why their Cabbage is better than any found at a supermarket.

The sights and smells—fresh cut flowers, aromatic herbs and spices gigantic, fresh from the ground, tree or vine produce alert shoppers to the high-quality standards of these dedicated growers. For first-timers I’d suggest strolling this market, perusing each stand if possible before buying anything. Many vendors set out samples, but if you don’t see any, request a taste of whatever you’re most interested in. Chances are good you’ll find yourself stumbling across some varieties of fruits and vegetables you’ve never even heard of, let alone seen before. Once you get the lay of the land, and have filled your senses to the brim, then go back and make your purchases from the vendors you resonate with most. Don’t be surprised if they offer you a recipe, storage or preparation tip along with your acquisition. That’s when it dawns on you that this is far from the end of the fulfillment found in this experience – it’s just the beginning, heading straight to your own kitchen. This one Soul-Full experience you do not want to miss!

*Fun Fact: The first LA County Farmer’s Market opened in 1979 in Gardena. It was a Saturday morning market, consisting of four stands. Interfaith Hunger Coalition sponsored it in the parking lot of a church. Today there are over 300 certified farmer’s markets in California.

With thanks to Bliss_Priss for the image.

SOOOO Good: New Morning Natural and Organic (Woodbury, Connecticut)

Our Rating: SOOOO Good
Address: 738 Main Street S, Woodbury, Connecticut 06798 (at Middle Quarter Mall)*
Hours: Open Mon-Sat 8-7, Sun 10-5.
Contact: 203.263.4868, newmorn.com

New Morning Natural Foods Woodbury CT

Review via Maureen Whitehouse

This independent, non-“commercial” yet sizable 7,500 square foot store offers a substantial array of organic fruits and vegetables, natural supplements and homeopathy, grocery and care products. But it’s the staff’s knowledge and commitment to meeting their customer’s needs, more than any single item sold here, that allows patrons to most substantially feel the love, care and pure purpose of this little gem of an establishment. On top of that, their prepared food menu is superb!

I’ve enjoyed many a snack and even an entire meal here while visiting my parents who, fortunately for them, live just minutes away, It’s easy to see why people travel to from miles around to sample and purchase from New Morning’s unique fresh prepared foods counter, The Provender. This gourmet source for ready-to-eat natural and organic foods that are created by executive chef, Carol Byer-Alcorace easily rivals many of the top health food eateries in the country.

New Morning Natural and Organic Foods
Customers taste fair-trade chocolate samples in front of New Morning’s café.

New Morning also has a growing list of classes and lectures open to the public throughout the year, consistent with its mission to educate people on achieving a sustainable lifestyle that is naturally better for them. They hosted a very successful Soul-Full Eating book signing in June, and hosted a Soul-Full Eating workshop in November 2008.

What impressed me most about New Morning is the store’s owner and founder, John Pittari. He is not only a well-spring of knowledge but so tangibly infused with enthusiasm and vision. It’s easy to see that John has been walking his talk and that still, after many years enmeshed in the business of health and wellness he is crazy in love with the world of “natural foods.” Currently he shares his passion with about fifty other people, his staff, who share his dream and work together daily to see it progress. John not only works in the store but out in the community, building relationships with local environmental groups to help further awareness about healthy and sustainable lifestyles in the community. New Morning’s annual celebration of Earth Day has become Woodbury’s single largest community event, an occasion for a full day of family activities and opportunity to sample the latest and best of natural and organic products.

New Morning Natural and Organic Food Woodbury CT
Founder John Pittari at the store’s opening in 1975.

*Building a permanent home for New Morning has been a vision of John’s for many years and he’s determined that his new store is “sustainable–practical and eco-friendly with a long, useful life.” Significant time has been spent during the engineering phase researching materials and systems, and designing floor plans and interior layouts that will work well together. The building site is environmentally sensitive because it’s in an aquifer protection area, part of which is in the 100 -year flood plain. New Morning sees this as an opportunity to install a storm water management system that protects local water resources and also serves as a model for how others might approach a challenge like this in the future.

*New Morning has recently gotten all the necessary approvals for building its new permanent home at 129 Main Street North in Woodbury – so stay tuned for their new store Grand Opening info.

Photos courtesy New Morning.

SOO Good: Cru (Los Angeles, California)

Our Rating: SOO Good
Address: 1521 Griffith Park Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026
Hours: Wed – Mon. 5:30pm –10pm Open for lunch Friday and Saturday 12pm – 4pm. Closed Tuesday
Contact: 323-667-1551, crusilverlake.com

Photo courtesy Cru Los Angeles

Review via Maureen Whitehouse.

This organic, vegan, raw café presents thoughtfully prepares and artfully presents their meals with intention to deeply satisfy their customers. The atmosphere is simple and stylish, the wait staff attentive and the food well prepared. I liked the variety of the menu, catering not just to raw foodists, but to discerning vegans with simple tastes and distinguished palates. The prices are reasonable. But I did feel the salad section to be a bit lacking, especially for a raw food restaurant. I had the house salad, expecting the likes of what I’d experienced at other raw food digs and instead found myself in front of a rather common looking and tasting pile of greens smothered in a way-too-spicy-for-me (and my dining companion, who’s been known to down habanero peppers 3-4 at a time without blinking an eye or shedding a tear) chili lime dressing. I don’t mind eating very spicy food when I’m in the mood for it, but I feel that it should be indicated somehow on the menu.

Photo courtesy Cru Los Angeles

However, the caponata bruschetta more than made up for my dismay. Made with a very fresh Italian chopped vegetable spread in a savory herbed sundried tomato sauce with cashew cheese on a very light but substantial buckwheat flat bread, this appetizer is tastefully bold and satisfying. The wraps, raviolis, pizzas and mezze platter all looked fresh and inviting for those inspired by “fusion” style Asian, South American or Mediterranean dishes. Raw foodists who are especially turned on by cacao—raw chocolate—will be particularly interested in Cru’s dessert selections. Chocolate Brownie a la Mode, Raspberry Chocolate Crepes with Fruit Sorbet and Chocolate Fudge Cake present you with a virtual chocolate nirvana.

Photos courtesy Cru.

SOOOOO Good: Angelica Kitchen (New York, NY)

Our Rating: SOOOOO Good
Address: 300 East 12th Street (between 1st and 2nd)
Hours: Open 7 Days a Week, 11:30 am- 10:30 pm
Contact: 212-228-2909 angelicakitchen.com

photo courtesy Angelica Kitchen

Review via Maureen Whitehouse

It was 95 degrees in Manhattan the day I decided to take refuge from the heat in one of NYC’s finest eateries, Angelica Kitchen. What an oasis! I felt immediately refreshed as the hostess engaged me in conversation while showing me to my table in this open, airy and lively establishment. Although they pretty much had me at hello, my experience heightened as at the suggestion of Angelica’s owner, Leslie MeEaohom, I left the sweaty city streets far, far behind while sipping a luscious Hibiscus Cooler.
Only then, after basking in the light and airy ambience, did I peruse Angelica’s superb menu, which is full of eclectic yet down-home choices that are a combination of vegan and raw food: Breads and Spreads, Soups, Starters and Sides, Salads, Dragon Bowls and Entrees. (more…)

SOOOOO Good: Pesce Blue (Portsmouth, New Hampshire)

Our Rating: SOOOOO Good
Address: 103 Congress St. Portsmouth, NH 03801
Dinner Hours: 7 nights a week starting at 5:00, Lunch: Monday – Friday 12:00 – 2:00 Brunch: Sunday 10:00 to 2:00
Contact: 603-430-7766 pesceblue.com

photo by Jack Bingam courtesy Pesce Blue

Review via Maureen Whitehouse

Serendipity brought us to this yummy eatery in the heart of downtown Portsmouth, which I later found out is featured as a dining experience not to miss while visiting Portsmouth in the book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

I’d hoped to find a Soul-Full dining experience that my almost-vegetarian (fish eating) dinner partners could relish as well one I could feel amazingly good to present to our readers as a sustainable, conscious eating choice. Viola! – Pesce Blue. I found this restaurant to be enchanting. The atmosphere is upscale all-embracing – quite comfortable to sophisticates as well as the tank top/sandal wearing crowd. The wait staff is delightfully attentive and knowledgeable about each dish’s preparation and ingredients, and the owner, Cliff T. Arrand, appears to be easily accessible as he warmly and actively engages in lively dialog with clientele.

The only thing that could possibly have made this dining experience better for me is if I’d opened my eyes after my first sip of organic Pinot Noir, and found myself magically transported to a small coastal town in Italy. Other than that, this is as close to my most favorite Italian dining experiences (and I’ve had many) that I could imagine reveling in while on US soil. This is a high-end Italian eatery—no heavy sauces, just light, obviously inspired and deliciously composed dishes. As a mostly vegan eater (I eat cheese every once in a great while), I found plenty on this menu to delight me, although most of it was in the form of very fulfilling appetizers, sides, salads and pastas. While my dining companions and I munched on hand-rolled and home baked herb breadsticks, focaccia and chipata I found it was terrifically difficult to choose between the Roasted Stuffed Baby Artichokes – filled with goat cheese, lemon and herbs, and dressed with an olive vinaigrette, the Local Roasted Tomato and Basil Salad with reduced balsamic vinegar and Mint and Pine Nut Stuffed Gnocchi. They found the Pesca (Fish) Selections, such as the Risotto al Pescatore (seafood risotto) and Griglia Mista (Assortment of grilled fish) to be equally enticing.

Photo by Jack Bingham courtsey Pesce Blue

A good portion of the Pesce Blue menu changes daily, depending on what foods are in season and can be found locally from New Hampshire farms as well as what’s the local catch—I was told that the only fish on the menu that was not caught in local waters the evening I dined there was the tuna. Which, as many of you know, is best to avoid anyway (for more info, see the “fish to avoid” column of the Fish List found on pg.162 of Soul-Full Eating) because tuna is unsustainably over-fished worldwide, and also due to the fact that as a larger fish, it contains the highest levels of ocean contamination, including inordinate
amounts of toxic chemicals such as PCBs and mercury.

One of my most ardent suggestions is that you begin your dining experience at Pesce Blue with the “Street Food,” dreamily reminiscent of the signature foods you can buy from vendors on the streets of Italy, such as Aroncini—wild mushroom risotto balls filled with goat cheese (yes,I splurged here and allowed myself this non-vegan delight!),Croquette—truffled potato rolled and breaded with lemon aioli, and Mozarella in Carozza—bread dough with fresh mozzarella served with warm marinara. It’s rustically luscious. And the deserts… nothing short of edible works of art – they’re “to live for!”

Photos by Jack Bingam courtesy Pesce Blue.

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