Vegetarian comfort food at Rosemary and Vine

With large, street-side windows and a chic-yet-casual decor, Rosemary and Vine exudes an inviting, approachable air from the moment you walk in the door.

Serving vegetarian fare inspired by dishes from across the Mediterranean, the restaurant is the product of Lebanese owners Berj Yeretzian and Tania Rahal. The vegetarian couple opened their Rye restaurant with the hope of delivering delicious, meatless meals that don’t skimp on flavor.

My guest and I head to an early Thursday evening dinner and choose a seat by the window, giving us a view of the quaint shops that line bustling Purchase Street. I begin with a glass of green apple iced tea, while my guest selects a steaming cup of coffee sourced from Tarrytown-based Coffee Labs Roasters, a small-batch independent roaster. While serving us our selections, Rahal tells us that aside from a few drinks and the pasta noodles, which we sample later, nearly everything served at Rosemary and Vine is created in house, even the ketchup.

We begin our meal with a bowl of gazpacho blanco, a pureed mixture of cucumbers, grapes, garlic and almonds served chilled that is a perfect summer dish. The refreshing soup is garnished with creamy labneh, a Lebanese cream cheese, and fresh mint for just the right amount of sweetness. We also select a bowl of homemade hummus, a family recipe,that provides a perfect kick for the crispy pita. An avocado crostini features avocado, feta and a delicious Moroccan pesto called charmoula all atop a grilled slice of campagna bread that is sprinkled with peas and mint.

Though many of the dishes incorporate similar ingredients, nothing feels repetitive. Each is able to transform those same ingredients into something new and unexpected, while still giving a sense of continuity to our entire meal. The restaurant, which recently switched its model from counter- to table-service, will also change its menu seasonally.

Letting Rahal take the reins and select our flatbread plate, we are served the Ella. The crisp crust is slathered with creamy ricotta cheese, which provides a perfect balance to the topping of baby arugula. The dish is also garnished with caramelized onions, Parmesan and toasted pine nuts.

While Rosemary and Vine is a vegetarian restaurant, Yeretzian and Rahal don’t brand it as such for a reason. Rather, Rahal says the eatery is “vegetarian food for omnivores,” a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. My guest and I remarked multiple times during the meal that neither of us felt like any dish was lacking an added source of animal protein.

We’re then served a chilled lentil salad that is topped with an assortment of vegetables, from carrots to zucchini, sprinkled with sunflower seeds and drizzled in a house-made apple cider vinegar.

“I’m a fan of flavor,” Rahal says. “I like to chew my food and feel it and smell it and touch it.”

When discussing the food she serves, you can feel Rahal’s passion for the cuisine, a passion she shared with consulting chef Erica Wides when designing Rosemary and Vine’s menu. That passion seems to resonate in the food itself as every dish we sample is a welcomed wake-up call to our taste buds.

For our entrées, we select a plate of truffled summer garden fettuccini, a true standout for me. The thick strands of fresh pasta are paired with grilled asparagus, corn, sliced radicchio and pine nuts, tossed in a scrumptious truffle butter and garnished with Parmesan and basil.

When we’re presented with the falafel, a recipe passed down from Rahal’s mother and one of the restaurant’s most popular options, we’re treated with a lesson on how to construct the perfect pita-wrapped dish. Rahal instructs us to stuff the fresh Lebanese pita with the fried fritters – made of dried chickpeas, fava beans and cilantro — throw in some turnip pickles, tomatoes and cucumbers and drizzle on the tahini. If there’s still tahini left in your dish when you’ve finished your falafel, Rahal says, you’ve done something wrong.

“You need to use all of it,” she exclaims.

For dessert, we select a creamy almondo-arborio rice pudding that combines almond milk, bourbon vanilla beans and cinnamon. A second dessert, a chocolate banana filo, is rich and smooth, with subtle hints of pistachio and maple mixing well with the dark Valrhona chocolate.

Though we have both eaten our fill, neither my guest nor I feel as though we overindulged. Rosemary and Vine offers feel-good food that actually makes you feel good.

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