Customers of Roxy’s Grilled Cheese are familiar with the buttery, cheesy goodness created by James DiSabatino. But his next culinary venture will feature a lot less butter. And cheese.
In fact, neither of these ingredients (or any other animal products) will be used at Whole Heart Provisions. The restaurant, a collaboration between DiSabatino and co-owner and chef Rebecca Arnold, is coming to 487 Cambridge St. in Allston this September.
That address was—until recently—the home of Root, a vegan restaurant. Prior to that, it was home to Piece o’ Pie…also a vegan restaurant. But Whole Heart says it isn’t a vegan restaurant, even though its menu comprises only vegan-friendly ingredients.
Whole Heart—named for the passion with which Arnold cooks—is simply about being able to make healthy food that you really want to eat.
They’re using words like “vegetable-centric,’’ and the menu consists of bold, flavorful food that just happens not to use animal products. Overall, their aim is inclusive: Even the most staunch carnivores will find things they love on the menu.
“We’re trying to pull a Steve Jobs and give people what they didn’t know they wanted,’’ said DiSabatino. “It’ll easily appeal to vegetarians, but over the course of time, the menu of things that we’re developing will be enjoyed by pretty much everybody. There are a lot of flavors in this world besides meat and animal products, and we want to showcase that a little bit.’’
The idea for the restaurant is a reaction to Arnold’s experiences eating on-the-go. She said that she was tired of her only options being carb-heavy sandwiches, or food that required meat to be filling. Instead, Whole Heart will offer salads and bowls with an array of different flavor palettes to choose from.
DiSabatino posted on Facebook about the demand for the new restaurant that read, “‘Are you guys ever going to do salads at Roxy’s?’ – everybody ever.’’
So, clearly, people were clamoring for healthy options. But why go meatless?
Arnold, who attended a vegetarian culinary school, said that it wasn’t really an intentional decision to go vegan. In experimenting with a potential menu, meat seemed superfluous.
“It just kind of happened that we didn’t need [animal products] to make the delicious food that we wanted to make,’’ she said.
Allston is home to a few vegan restaurants already, including FoMu and Grasshopper just down the block from Whole Heart. But with much of Allston’s population comprised of millennials—the median age is 31-32—and increasing numbers of millennials looking to go meat-free, there may be demand for veggie-focused options that hasn’t yet been met.
No matter what the customer’s relationship to animal products, DiSabatino and Arnold hope to bring in patrons from all over the Boston area, especially with the wide reach of their catering services and an active Instagram feed.
“We just want to bring bold, delicious flavors to the area,’’ said Arnold, “And keep it tasty.’’
Related: 12 vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the Boston area