December 30th: The first USDA and NOFA-NY certified 100% organic restaurant and bar, GustOrganics (Gusto) is located on 6th Ave at 14th Street – prime location between Chelsea and the West Village. GustOrganics takes the best practices of restauranting to create delicious food and promote sophisticated, healthy dining with an environmentally conscious mind. Born earlier this 2008 year from the compassionate mind of Alberto Gonzalez, the founder, the menu takes on a vibrant Latin-inspired taste with innovation in eco-friendliness.
I sat with the manager, Eyal Amir, who spoke about his and Alberto’s shared vision for the restaurant that has been nearly 10 years in the making, as he introduced us to the wonderful menu. Handsome and engaging, I was completely wooed by Eyal’s charming, soothing voice as he told us about his restaurant endeavors with Alberto during our tasting.
Alberto possesses the sense for business along with the passion for food, which matches Eyal’s commitment to a healthy, organic lifestyle. Both passionate about Green issues that is a prevalent concern today, they spared no expense in ensuring the Greenness of the restaurant. Not only is it the first USDA certified organic bar, but the water is filtered using UV technologies that replace typical coal filters. They only use ingredients from local farms to reduce their carbon footprints, which they selected after two to three years of farm visitations and meeting directly with their suppliers. To maintain the epitome of cleanliness, the kitchen is cleaned twice each day, and even for off-site catering, they are still able to bring freshness right where you need them. And in case you really need to ask: yes, there are motion detectors in the bathrooms to shut the lights off.
Onto the food! We first started with two refreshing fruit smoothies, brimming with vitamins and nutrients. The first, fresco, was a delicious blend of mangoes, orange juice, and agave. The second, rojo, was appropriately named with strawberries, OJ, and agave. For appetizers, we tried two varieties of their grilled organic empanadas: the capresse, with mozzarella, tomato, and basil; and the fugazzetta, with caramelized onions and mozzarella. Next, we moved on to the piadina, a kind of “sandwich” made of flour tortilla flatbread encased with filet mignon steak, mozzarella cheese, and onions.
My favorite dish of the evening was a simple and simply delicious risotto with mushrooms, cheese, and garlic. They have varying daily specials of risotto, so every day can be a different dose of deliciousness. We concluded with a light lemon cheesecake that melted delicately in your mouth. Made from ricotta cheese and yogurt, the cheesecake contains no sugar – that would be unheathy, for shame! – and instead the sweetness is derived from the natural sweetness of agave.
By spring/summer of 2009, their goal is to transform the second floor in a lounge area, with tentative designs including theater and projection capabilities, a space for live music and to host special events. They have plans to be a presence in Equinox gyms throughout the city and also in the terminals of JFK, as an option for healthy dining. Down the road, they want to try their hands at packaged foods and baby food to be sold possibly in Whole Foods and QVC, hopefully to deter us lazy people from resorting to Easy Mac when we’re at home watching TV.
Keep with your annual “diet/healthier living/being a better person” resolutions by starting the New Year off right with a visit to Gusto. This also inspired me to brush up on my Español skills, so there’s my resolution.
Happy New Year, and see you in 2009!
519 Avenue of the Americas
(6th Avenue @ 14th Street)
Delicious Empanada Guts
Filet Mignon Piadinas
Mushroom and Cheese Risotto
Light Lemon Cheesecake