By Sophia Ricco
Plantwise has a mission to help the community eat one plant-based meal a day. With dynamic dishes and eagerness for education, they are a hub for a healthy lifestyle.
The Dix Hills eatery specializes in plant- based cuisine that is free of animal products like meat, dairy or eggs, but full of flavor.
Owners Pamela Kambanis and Alex Adikimenakis took on a vegan lifestyle around seven years ago, prompting them to explore a world of plant-based meals. Eager to share their values and techniques of healthy eating, they opened Plantwise in 2015.
“We had to relearn everything,” Kambanis said. “But I think those four years of re- teaching ourselves, finding new recipes and challenging ourselves with new spices and flavors helped us to take the focus away from meat or dairy. This prepped us to open the restaurant.”
Kambanis said it took time to master vegan cooking in their own kitchen. Keeping the flavors of their favorite dishes while staying animal-free was a challenge. Adikimenakis took the lead designing the menu, drawing influence from various cultures and continuously experimenting.
“We’re really great together, because he figured out how to create the food and pres- ent it in a beautiful way,” Kambanis said. “Neither of us had restaurant experience, we just kinda dove in and made it work.”
For three years, Plantwise has served as a place of enlightenment where anyone can learn about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. While you peruse Plantwise’s menu, knowledgeable staff can explain, advise and answer questions.
“Many people come in saying they’ve heard of veganism or are trying to eat healthier, but don’t know where to start or what the options are,” Kambanis said. “We find ourselves educating, while helping guide people through the journey of eating better.”
The couple once offered 12 smoothie flavors but recently condensed this to the best four recipes.
“We wanted to focus our energy on the food side, since many people come in for it, we want to make sure we have a lot of variety,” Kambanis said.
The Coconutty takes a unique form as a smoothie bowl ($9.50). A blend of peanut butter, cacao, hemp seeds and chocolate protein, makes a rich and sweet base layer, that is asking to be mixed with the coconut, banana and strawberry toppings. Other beverages include strawberry lemonade ($4.99) and spicy green lemonade ($5.99). Both are naturally sweetened with apples.
“This is not the store it was three years ago,” Kambanis said. “We’ve grown so much and keep growing. Everything that we add to the menu, we will tweak and make better.”
As Plantwise evolves, they continue to introduce specials and unique choices. The zen roll ($8.99) plays on the art of sushi, filled to the brim with spicy kimchi, brown rice, avocado mash, zucchini noodles, arugula and carrots. The freshness of the ingredients gives it a nice crunch, while the kimchi stands out as bold and tangy.
“It’s trial and error in our own kitchen, if we like it and our family likes it, we have a good chance that other people will too,” Kambanis said.
Giving customers the option to mix and match, Plantwise offers half-and-half of a salad and bowl ($11.99). While the bowls can be on the heavier side, a salad keeps the meal light. The southern charm and masala bowl, make a dynamic duo. The chickpea masala was phenomenal. Its savory, zesty sauce mixes well with hearty kale.
The avocado quinoa salad and chili bowl is comfort food reimagined. The bean chili perfectly replicates Southern flavor, proving plant-based can still be delicious.
“Whole, plant-based foods are where we get our nutrients and vitamins from,” Kam- banis said. “We try to approach it in a calm, compassionate way. You don’t have to change your whole life and cut everything out, but just be conscious of one meal, then you’ll see the ease in it.”
15 E Deer Park Rd, Dix Hills
Atmosphere: Earthy and casual
Price range: Wraps: $8.75-10.99, Salads: $7.99-10.99, Bowls: $8.99-10.99
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.