Organic Restaurants in Upstate New York

By Jared Paventi

The slow food and organic movements of the twenty-first century is centered on healthy eating and sustainable farming. Fruits and vegetables are grown without harmful pesticides in responsible manners which do not rob the soil of its nutrients. Animals raised for slaughter are fed natural grass and corn and not fed hormones to speed their growth. Proponents of organic cooking claim that these foods are healthier, as no chemicals or toxins are passed down the food chain. Upstate New York has a number of quality organic and natural foods restaurants near its urban centers.

The Restaurant at Elderberry Pond

Located 20 miles west of the city of Syracuse on the outskirts of the smaller city of Auburn is Elderberry Pond. The 100-acre farm is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Northeast Organic Farming Association. The adjacent restaurant relies on the farm's harvest for much of its menu, including fruits, vegetables and its free range meats. Open seasonally from April through December, the restaurant serves lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Most entrees are served with the farms organic potatoes, dug from the ground that morning. Pasture-raised pork is marinated in oils and fruit juices and grilled to perfect doneness, while free-range chicken is roasted and served in a rosemary poulet. Vegetables are sourced directly from the garden, while seafoods are secured from fishing companies which adhere to organic and sustainable principles. Reservations are highly recommended.

Elderberry Pond
3728 Center Street Road
Auburn, NY 13021
(315) 252-6025

Moosewood Restaurant

Nationally known for its vegetarian and organic cookbooks, the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca has been cited as one of the most influential restaurants of the twentieth century by "Bon Appetit" magazine. Daily menus feature appetizers and entrees, with at least one vegan-friendly dish for every one containing dairy or a meat product. The restaurant's trademark soups, prepared from scratch daily, are a must order. Dairy products, including eggs and cheeses, and vegetables are all from organic farms. Homemade guacamole, pico de gallo and spanish rice accompany a traditional Mexican tostada, a popular rotating selection with pinto beans and cabbage slaw in a fried corn tortilla. Lunch and dinner is served Monday through Saturday, with dinner service only on Sundays.

Moosewood Restaurant
215 N. Cayuga Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 273-9610


Part-gallery, part-organic restaurant, merge is at the center of the city's arts district. The menu strives to please everyone, from meat eaters to vegans and those seeking a gluten-free diet. Lunch and dinner is served Monday through Saturday, with a nearly even mix of meat and non-meat dishes. Chicken noodle soup and vegan gumbo sit side-by-side as do vegan Thai lettuce wraps and tuna melts. Dinners include a market priced fish and chicken of the day and vegan-friendly lasagna--brown rice noodles, tomato sauce, pine nut cheese, spinach, tempeh, fennel seed and red pepper. Meats and proteins, including seitan, tofu, tempeh and chicken, can be substituted with each other in any dish. The restaurant's walls also act as gallery space for local artists and the bar hosts open mic night every Thursday.

439 Delaware Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14202
(716) 842-0600

Harvest and Hearth

The Saratoga Springs area rings in with Harvest and Hearth, an artisan pizza kitchen which uses organic ingredients from farms in New York and New England. A wood-fired hearth oven brings 12- and 16-inch fresh dough pizzas to life. Homemade dough is constructed from organic flours, while sauces, cheeses and toppings come from natural and organic farms. The Harvest and Hearth puts its own spin on standbys like pepperoni pizza, using nitrate-free pepperoni with homemade organic sauce, natural whole milk mozzarella and organic herbs. The Natural comes with a sundried tomato pesto base, caramelized onions, organic mushrooms, nitrate-free sausage, whole-milk mozzarella and organic herbs. Other toppings include kalamata olives, wild mushrooms, free-range chicken, and goat, fontina and gouda cheeses.

Harvest and Hearth
251-B Stafford Bridge Road (County Rt. 67)
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(518) 587-1900


Rochester's Lento restaurant uses organic meats, fruits and vegetables from throughout Western and Central New York. The result is fine dining menu which caters to vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Homemade ravioli stuffed with pumpkin in a sage brown butter sauce and served over spinach, and parsnip, carrot and scallion cakes on top of cider-braised cabbage with housemade apple sauce highlight the vegetarian options. A lamb duo of grilled leg au poivre and braised shoulder stuffed cannelloni joins a locally-farmed beef tenderloin with parmesan porcini mushroom gnocchi, roasted mushrooms and spinach in a gorgonzola butter sauce. The restaurant's raw bar serves Gulf of Mexico shrimp, wild oysters and clams and Jonah crab claws. Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday and reservations are recommended.

274 N. Goodman Street
Rochester, NY 14607
(585) 271-3470

About The Author

Jared Paventi is the communications director for a disease-related nonprofit in the Northeast. He has extensive experience in the health care, technology and sports industries. He holds a master's degree from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication and a bachelor's in journalism from St. Bonaventure University.
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