BLOOMFIELD — Staten Island Borough President James Oddo has called on local restaurants to offer healthier dishes to help trim waistlines in the city's unhealthiest borough. And on Tuesday he announcd that one has taken him up on the challenge.
Richard and Lois Nicotra, owners of Lorenzo's Restaurant and Commons Cafe, both in Bloomfield, have changed their menus to include healthier dishes.
"We have wonderful restaurants on Staten Island," Oddo said. "It is a wonderful experience to go and have lunch or have dinner at these places, and we don't want to hamper that in any way, we want to enhance it. And we want to enhance it by giving folks options."
From artichoke heart salads to gluten-free pasta dishes, both places will add dishes that are lower in salt, fats and carbs. At Lorenzo's, inside the Hilton Garden Inn, the menu will add red hearts next to the lighter fare.
"It's not something that we're just doing today," Richard Nicotra said. "It's now in our menu and so when you come here you can have whatever you want, but you also have a choice of maybe trying something healthier that does taste good."
And even though most people think of cardboard-like diet food when they think of eating healthy, Oddo and head chef Frank Lombardi said the new dishes are still plenty tasty.
"We're not necessarily saying it's diet food, but it's food with health in mind," Lombardi said.
Aside from the Nictoras' places, Oddo also called on other restaurants around the borough to look into offering healthier choices, and said the borough's health and wellness director, Dr. Ginny Mantello, would be available to help out places that want to make the change.
Changes Mantello suggested restaurants could make immediately include not serving bread at the table and packaging half of diners entrees to go before they even pick up their utensils.
Currently, more than 75 percent of Staten Islanders are overweight or obese, they're more likely to smoke than other New York City residents and have a 33 percent better chance to develop heart disease, Oddo previously said.
The figures led Oddo to start a new full-scale health campaign for the borough in March, when he hired Mantello.