By:Â Michele Wolfson
Finding hidden restaurant gems in unlikely places is like when you put on your winter coat for the first time in the season and find money in a pocket- you do a happy dance and feel like you have won the lottery. Now that local and organic eats are becoming all the rage, restaurants are following suit and health supportive eateries are popping up in places that have traditionally been monopolized by chains or fast food joints.
Check out our list below of places that serve up healthy cuisine in NYC!
Freshtarian, Staten Island: Freshtarian offers a healthier approach to fine/casual dining in Stapleton, Staten Island. The menu highlights natural meats, chicken and fish, with specially prepared vegan and vegetarian delights, along with a delicious selection of fresh juice cocktails.Â Menu items include homemade Asian spring rolls, Caesar salad prepared table side, roasted beet and avocado salad, brown rice penne primavera, free range grilled chicken putanesca, deep sea water fish, quinoa and a seasonal selection of vegetables and vegan desserts.
Many feel that Staten Island desperately needed a restaurant like this, with reasonably priced, tasty, and innovative food. One of their chefs, Chef Courtney, a recent graduate from The Natural Gourmet Institute says, "It's the only fine dining restaurant on Staten Island that serves all natural meats, local produce vegan and gluten-free entrees. That's what attracted me to Freshtarian."
All dishes at Freshtarian are prepared with local, fresh foods and accommodate many diets, including gluten-free and vegan. They also serve organic beer and claim to have the largest selection of 100% sustainable and organic wine on Staten Island.
Strictly Roots, Central Harlem:Â This eatery is known for its unique brand of vegetarian and vegan "soul food" with a heavy Caribbean influence. The vegan/crueltyfree fare provides a healthy alternative in central Harlem's food desert. Diners can either choose from the prepared food at the hot food bar or from dishes on the menu, which they make fresh.
They claim to use organic ingredients when possible as well as minimal or no sugar, opting for agave or unrefined brown sugar. Strictly Roots gives locals a place to dine that puts a healthy spin on soul food and maintains a very colorful Rasta flare.
Acqua at Peck Slip, Financial/Seaport District: As a resident of the Financial District, I can say from personal dining experience that this beautiful restaurant is a hidden gem in a section of NYC that is known for its 9-5 hustle and bustle vibe. Walking into Acqua gives off a feeling like you've left New York and arrived in Italy. Â Its cobble-stone street location only adds to the Italian romantic charm.
Diners find that it's worth flocking way downtown for the organic, seasonalÂ Italian cuisine including homemade pastas and cheeses. A lively bar scene and outdoor seating makes this a popular spot during the warmer months - even during the weekends when the area is usually a ghost town.
Quaint, Queens: According to NY Magazine, "A mini-restaurant row has sprouted on Sunnyside's Skillman Avenue, where Bliss and, now, Quaint have joined pizzerias, saloons, and Romanian cafes." The terrific seasonal specials are moderately priced and there is a garden in the back that is pleasant for warm weather dining.
Locals claim that this joint is the best-kept secret in the neighborhood, especially when it comes to brunch. The menu draws on the produce of local farms in upstate New York and from Quaint's own herb garden located behind the restaurant.
For more healthy tips, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)