Healthy vs. delicious. It’s a choice that diners don’t have to make when they dine at True Food Kitchen in Roosevelt Field. Cofounded by alternative-medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil, the Phoenix, Arizona-based chain operates 34 restaurants in 14 states, each one of which celebrates vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and other current signifiers of "clean eating." When the location opened in Roosevelt Field, on the west side of the mall between Havana Central and Osteria Morini, it became the first location in New York State.
CEO Christine Barone said that "Dr. Weil and all of us believe that food is one of life’s great pleasures and it needs to be delicious." The company’s goal is to prove that "to eat well, you do not have to sacrifice taste or craving or a sense of discovery."
The restaurant’s menu is the work of corporate executive chef Robert McCormick, whose resume includes running kitchens for Daniel Boulud and Dean & DeLuca. Weil tastes every dish on the menu and, Barone said, "gives us his feedback — which isn’t always positive."
Items that got Weil’s seal of approval include the garden scramble, avocado toast, edamame dumplings, spaghetti-squash casserole, "ancient grains" bowl and Korean noodles. Fall favorites include butternut squash pizza, roasted Brussels sprouts and charred cauliflower. Most starters, salads and pizzas are $10 5o $15; almost all mains are less than $20.
At Roosevelt Field, McCormick and Weil’s vision is being carried out by executive chef Seth Barton, who formerly held that position at Del Frisco’s Grille in Huntington and Seasons 52 just a few doors down at Roosevelt Field. Ordinarily, Barton would have traveled to Phoenix for three weeks of training but, given the pandemic, much of the instruction was done via video and, in the weeks before opening, a team from Phoenix traveled east to launch the new restaurant.
In fact, the restaurant had been scheduled to open in April. During the ensuing five months, True Food Kitchen adjusted all its other restaurants to comply with whatever local regulations were in effect. On Long Island that has meant reconfiguring the dining room to allow for social distancing (the capacity has gone from more than 180 to less than 50) and to expand outdoor dining to accommodate another 30. There are stringent sanitation disinfectant procedures, daily staff wellness checks and socially distant seating to face masks on all staff, single-use recyclable paper menus and contact-free mobile ordering options,
"Healthy" as defined at True Food Kitchen, means mostly organic produce, grass-fed meats and a menu based on the principles of Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory food-pyramid diet that is designed to mitigate the chronic inflammation that contributes to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and other age-related disorders, as well as to treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
At the bottom of the pyramid are fruits and vegetables and, on top of them, are ever-narrowing layers of whole grains, beans, legumes and pasta; healthy fats; seafood; soy products; mushrooms; dairy and lean meats; until you get to the tippytop of red wine and dark chocolate.
True Food Kitchen is open every day for lunch and dinner at Roosevelt Field, 630 Old Country Rd., Garden City, 516-559-4728, truefoodkitchen.com.