Empty storefronts leave a sour taste in the mouths of Rye residents who love their downtown. So having Rosemary and Vine open on the corner of Purchase Street and Locust Avenue last week was a savory treat.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Empty storefronts leave a sour taste in the mouths of Rye residents who love their downtown. So having Rosemary and Vine open on the corner of Purchase Street and Locust Avenue last week was a savory treat. Owners Berj Yeretzian and Tania Rahal, who moved to Rye a year and a half ago, are pleased to introduce Rye’s first Mediterranean restaurant.
“We changed the way we eat three years ago and were drawn to a healthier, plant-based diet with more natural foods. Rye as a whole subscribes to this way of eating,” said Yeretzian.
Rahal, his wife of four years, agreed, “We felt we needed to do something new and different, something this community lends itself to.”
Although neither had prior restaurant experience, Yeretzian, who worked in finance, and Rahal, an event planner for over a decade, pooled their strengths. The couple enlisted the help of consulting chef Erica Wides to develop a menu that centers on fresh vegetables, herbs, grains, and legumes with Middle Eastern, Spanish, Moroccan, and French influences.
“Petites,” or as the menu declares, “small plates with big personalities,” include hummus, roasted beets, rosemary potatoes, local cheeses, and babaganoush or roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon, and garlic.
“Cazuelas,” the entrees all cooked in an exposed kitchen, are served with a choice of brown rice, quinoa, couscous, or seasonal greens. They boast a Moroccan vegetable tagine, French lentil ragout, and Tuscan white beans. A falafel and a watercress salad called fatoush and served with a sumac dressing are Rahal’s mother’s secret recipes. “They’re in the safe,” quipped Yeretzian.
Along with “dolces” that include such homemade offerings as lemon rosemary cake and almond-arborio rice pudding, there’s a kids’ menu with mini-cazuelas and grilled cheese pitas.
In addition to appealing to a health-conscious sensibility, Yeretzian and Rahal were also cognizant of today’s customer’s penchant for fast service and a casual environment. Patrons can expect an elevated cafeteria-style eatery, whereby they walk up to appetizer or entrée counters and make their selections.
Any comparisons to a cafeteria, however, stop here. After paying at the register, customers can have a seat and a friendly wait staff takes it from there. Moreover, Rosemary and Vine is attractive and hip. It took Yeretzian and Rahal all summer long and then some to renovate. Besides the 1850s tin ceiling and the original front door, the space was gutted.
“We wanted to make it warm and friendly, and we tried to achieve that with different elements,” explained Yeretzian, who insisted on using environmentally friendly materials. The addition of windows and the installation of handmade Moroccan floor tiles brightened up the space considerably. Reclaimed wood was utilized for tables, food counters, and a bar that serves Serendipity organic teas and espresso from Coffee Labs, a small-batch roaster in Tarrytown, as well as wine and beer.
As Yeretzian noted, “Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice glass of wine.” Rosemary and Vine’s selections are from small wineries that Yeretzian noted, “engage in the winemaking process in a very responsible way.”
The beers, too, are all mostly from local breweries and were laboriously selected to complement the cuisine. Pursuit IPA comes from Stamford; Hoptical Illusion from Long Island; and 2XIBA from upstate New York. Even Rosemary and Vine’s natural sodas are from Maine.
“So far, the feedback is very satisfying,” remarked Yeretzian, “People love the food and really appreciate the way the restaurant feels.”
Rosemary and Vine, 29 Purchase Street, also offers curbside pick-up on Locust Avenue by the Firehouse. Call 481-8660 or visit rosemaryandvine.com. Hours are Sunday –Thursday from 11-9; Friday and Saturday from 11 to 11.