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Primal Roots Organic Cafe opens in Smithtown

Primal Roots Organic Cafe in Smithtown eschews grains

Primal Roots Organic Cafe in Smithtown eschews grains for its paleo-style snacks, salads and hot entrees.  Photo Credit: Newsday/Corin Hirsch

No grains cross the threshold at Primal Roots Organic Cafe, a casual Smithtown eatery which opened Saturday where the house bread is made with almond flour, the grass-fed burger can come between cauliflower flatbread or hunks of roasted eggplant, and carbs and dairy are in short (if almost nonexistent) supply.

The cafe is the brainchild of co-owner David Depinto, an attorney whose weight and health improved dramatically, he said, after adopting a paleo diet in 2015  --  mostly eliminating grains, fruit, dairy and carbohydrates, while concentrating meals on lean meats and both fresh and root vegetables.

Three years after Depinto changed his diet, he partnered with longtime friend Kevin Gray to renovate the former Baja Grill on East Main Street into a paleo eatery with a 'primal' moniker (the two diet styles mimic each other, with subtle differences). Gray created a rustic, homey vibe with reclaimed wood, distressed surfaces, old barn doors and a corrugated metal roof over the ordering counter.

It's at that counter where diners order dishes created by chef Mike Knaub, who finessed recipes that Depinto -- who attended culinary school before going into law -- developed over his years as a paleo eater. Breakfast items ($4-$12) include paleo toast slathered with one of three nut butters and, come June, savory dishes such as eggs Benedict over avocado; lunch and dinner dishes ($14-$27) including grass-fed beef and turkey burgers, bone broths ("We use every part of the turkey," Depinto said), leafy green salads ($16, with unlimited toppings that include shrimp and bacon), and sides sold by weight, from deviled eggs and sauteed spaghetti squash to a kale Caesar made with cashew cream. Each day's hot dishes center around different iterations of wild Atlantic salmon, free-range poultry and grass-fed beef, and come with two sides, and a dessert bar features paleo bread, nut butters, berries, paleo granola and toppings such as cocoa nibs and crushed coconut.

Depinto is also adamant about using almost all certified organic ingredients on Primal Roots' menu, and backs that up with an unusual twist: A board that lists the items he can't find in organic form, whether due to supply chains or season. "Right now, I can't get [organic] cherries," he said, throwing up his hands.

Primal Roots Organic Cafe is open daily from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.

20 E Main Street, Smithtown, 631-656-9585, primalroot.com

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