Last Saturday night my husband and I spent the night at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor because we were scheduled to be at Croton Point Park at 4 am the next day to work the TOUGHMAN Half (a half-ironman distance triathlon). We headed out for dinner, without a plan, which can be tough when you’re a vegan eating in a non-vegan world.
Or is it?
It was pouring rain as we walked down Pleasantville Road in Briarcliff Manor. We saw the warm, dimly lit Orfino’s Restaurant where the diners looked exceptionally dapper (we were in soaking wet and wearing shorts). We walked in anyway. I apologized for the way we looked and the hostess assured as we were fine. She then asked for our reservation name. Oops. “We don’t have one.” I confessed. “No problem,” she replied, and we were seated right away.
I took a look at the Italian menu and at first glance assumed my only shot at enjoying a vegan meal was to piece together some vegetables – unless some of the pasta options were vegan.
What? Pasta isn’t vegan? Nope. Homemade pastas are almost always made with egg. Dry pastas (the kind you purchase at the store) usually are vegan (always read the label!).
The hostess came back around before we placed an order to see if we had any questions. I asked about the pasta and she confirmed that the two house-made pastas were prepared eggs but that the the dry pastas were vegan. She encouraged me to mix and match any of the dry pastas with sauces or other pasta preparations that looked good to me.
Our server came to the table and I started the conversation with my standard, “I’m vegan and am hoping to do some mixing and matching here” statement. She said, “No problem, my brother is vegetarian.” Instead of ordering an appetizer I asked if the chef could toss cannellini beans with the string beans (a side) to start. “No problem.”
The chef used a generous amount of garlic and this special “bean on bean” appetizer was delightful! It honestly could have been a meal. But it wasn’t, because I ordered spaghetti and marinara sauce for dinner.
By the way, all pasta dishes come with a side salad.
I am always impressed and pleased with a chef who encourages a diner to order exactly what she wants. Some kitchen executives get persnickety but note that I didn’t order one single thing off-menu, I simply requested some mixing and matching of existing fare. By doing so, I enjoyed a filling, flavorful plant-based meal.
Orfino’s Restaurant, we will be back!
1201 Pleasantville Road
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510
I Eat Plants columnist JL Fields is a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator. She shares plant-based education, recipes and cooking techniques, as well as animal rights information and resources, on the popular blog JL goes Vegan. Her original recipes have been featured on Foodbuzz, BlogHer and Meatless Monday. She is the editor of the community blog Stop Chasing Skinny. JL is the founder and lead consultant for JL Fields Consulting and serves on the board of directors of Our Hen House. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.