One might think a raw restaurant in Boston's North End would be doomed or, at best, stick out like a sore thumb. Generally, people flock to all the traditional Italian restaurants with their pastas and cured meats, but lately the masses have been showing up for Allisa Cohen's first restaurant. A raw food diva and author of numerous books on the subject, she has created a space in this bustling neighborhood that is everything all those Italian restaurants are - warm, welcoming, delicious - only without the stoves.
Named with a nod to its surroundings (Grezzo is Italian for "raw"), this small space was packed when we visited, and all the patrons were doing the same ooohing and ahhhing that we were. With menu items like gnocchi, steak, and brownie sundaes, everyone at my table left way more full than we had anticipated, and sufficiently awed by what the chefs were creatively putting out. The only low point of the meal was the very beginning: my creamy fennel soup. (left) I could have used more fennel and less 'cream' (made from cashews), and the whole thing lacked salt. Still, it was pretty yummy, and it was all uphill from there.
Next I had some 'sliders'. Done easily enough with soy burgers at vegan restaurants, these little poppers were made of nuts and seeds and served with potato chips which we neither baked nor fried, but simply brined and dehydrated. Talk about flavor - these guys were bangin'. Still, I was not prepared for my papaya 'steak'. A hunkin slice of papaya is cut at angles along the top and marinated in a teriyaki sauce to mimic grill marks, and served with creamy dill 'vermicelli' and a olive and cucumber salad. Amazing and beautiful and full of surprising tastes. That's the great thing about raw food: Everything is in its most natural state and when you use the finest organic ingredients (as Alissa does) the freshness and flavor just pop. Which brings us to dessert. Oh my god...
This brownie sundae was so rich and decadent you never would have known it was vegan, let alone raw. And you see that amazing red streak? That's the yummiest raspberry sauce you ever did try. I was in heaven, and so were all my dining companions. Grezzo is a must go for anyone simply in love with food. It's not about being raw or not, it's about being exposed to all new flavors. It's kind of like eating in color when you didn't know you've been eating in black and white for so long. :) Everyone, vegan and others alike, should go.
I'm back in SF and off to Quince with my husband and 8 of our friends tomorrow to sit at the chef's table and have an epic meal. I'm so excited. Talk about "eats well with others" - there'll be me (the vegan), a vegetarian, my hubby the pescetarian, and 7 omnivores. I can't wait to see what the chefs throw together for us. Soon after that I'm off to LA. I'll make my regular pilgrimage to Real Food Daily of course, but am also planning on trying M Cafe De Chaya for the first time. Can't wait to tell you all about it. And do forgive me if I take a while. We just got this super awesome giant flat screen, a blue ray player, and the Planet Earth series. I'm engrossed. Our world is amazing and all of her creatures are so beautiful. I love that the way I eat is so yummy AND it helps protect everything I love about our planet. Remember, every meat-free day helps!