De Maria is a newcomer to the trendy health-food paradise of Nolita. Nestled just down the block from infamous vegetarian hotspot The Butcher’s Daughter, De Maria’s uber-chic decor, sun-filled space, and vibrant bites have upped Kenmare Street’s Instagramability—if that’s even possible. Dubbed the place to be seen post New York Fashion Week in February, this woman-led restaurant has been impeccably put together by a team of creative minimalists.
My friend Priscila happened to be visiting before heading out East, so when De Maria invited the Bitches in for brunch, I knew this was the perfect locale for my health-conscious crew. De Maria’s spacious patio welcomes guests into a bright alcove beaming with hints of Latin flair. After you’re done taking in the thoughtful, flawless decor and the beautiful crowd, it’s time to sip on some of their signature soft drinks.
After sipping one too many frosés the night prior, Pris and I went straight for the two ginger juices. Her choice was a mix of carrot, cinnamon, and ginger, and I got the ginger lemon. I was quite surprised our tagalong Tim opted for the spa-like cucumber, jasmine, and lime concoction and not a cocktail after his early turn in that Friday evening. We also supplemented with crisp cold brew and almond milk for our caffeine fix.
I knew from a previous visit that we absolutely had to order the gluten-free banana bread. Plus, it would make the perfect dense sweet to soak up some of last night’s libations before diving into our nutritious mains. One thing De Maria does very very well is surprise your tastebuds with unexpected but delectable flavor-and-spice combinations like the ginger and flaxseed threaded throughout this slice.
We each ordered our entrees and were thrilled when the chef sent a few shareable additions. We ended up with way too much food spread across our table, but with several plates overflowing with vibrant veggies, our forks grazed each and every dish.
Our unanticipated second starters of melon and nectarine squares and an endive and poached chicken salad topped with pickled goji and barberry were a prime introduction to the thoughtful, refreshing bites on their way to our corner.
Tim was the odd man out, ordering the chicken sandwich when Pris and I opted for grain bowls, but all three of us were wowed by the beautiful artistry of the lemon-encrusted focaccia the traditional-sounding menu item was served upon. Topped with watercress and caper aioli, this chicken sandwich proved De Maria is anything but classic.
Like I said before, the ladies went for grain bowls. These two, however, were anything but similar. My favorite thing about a grain bowl is that they seriously evolve from restaurant to restaurant. You can never really guarantee if the bowl in front of you is going to be the ideal ratio of protein to grain to vegetable to sauce, but I’d say De Maria’s doing these just fine.
The Fire Dragon Bowl made it into De Maria’s kitchen by way of the chef’s previous stint at Cafe Henrie on the Lower East Side. Precisely portioned by this Bitch’s standards, this combination of just enough grain was topped with heirloom beans, avocado, a turmeric-poached egg, and tarragon tahini. Priscila’s bowl, the Rooster, was packed with just as much flavor and piled with cured fish, a honey-cured egg, and seed seaweed gomasio crisps. Needless to say, Bitches love bowls.
This wasn’t my first visit to De Maria, and it certainly won’t be my last. How soon will the Bitches see you at this Nolita gem?
The Bitches say: A. Fresh ingredients and unique spices make De Maria’s healthy yet hearty dishes quite irresistible. The fact that those plates are served up in incredibly photogenic lighting on the cozy end of Kenmare makes this restaurant simply superb.
De Maria serves breakfast Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
19 Kenmare Street
New York, NY 10012