By Dawn Watson
Being healthy is more than just a food choice for Sabrosa Mexican Grill owner J. Andreassi. It’s a way of life.
When he decided to go vegan several years ago, the Water Mill resident soon discovered that finding tasty options while dining out was more difficult than it should be. So he decided to do something about it.
He already knew that Mexican food, which is made with the basic staples of corn, beans and chili peppers, would be a good option for healthful eating. Especially after consulting with New York Times bestselling author and dietitian Cynthia Sass, who has not only advised the New York Rangers and the New York Yankees, she has literally written the book(s) on nutrition and good health. Thus, the idea for Sabrosa, which is derived from the Mexican word for “delicious,” was born.
From the burritos and tacos to the salads and soups, all of the food at the Water Mill-based Mexican restaurant is organic, fresh and cooked on premises. Locally sourced food is used whenever possible and the menu includes a number of East Hampton Wellness Foundation-approved selections. In addition to the standard fare—including protein choices of naturally raised beef, pork and chicken—there are plenty of natural and plant-based items on the menu, such as GMO-free tofu, vegetarian choices, and gluten-free and soy-free options.
Diners also get to choose the fillings that go into their entrees. Options include white and brown rice, black and pinto beans, a number of vegetables, cheese and six different kinds of salsa. Side dishes, such as chips, salsa and guacamole, and kids selections are also served.
Sabrosa Mexican Grill is not just a place to get quality food, says Mr. Andreassi. It’s based on his life philosophy, which centers on nutrition, wellness and philanthropy.
“We’re more than a restaurant,” he says. “We also have a culture of commitment to the health and welfare of the community.”
Providing a place that offers nutritious options at reasonable prices became a key component at Sabrosa, says the owner. Entrees range from $7.75 to $8.45, kids menu selections and side dishes range from $1.50 to $5.50, and desserts are priced at $4.25 and $5.
There’s also a very strong community-driven outreach at the eatery, says Mr. Andreassi. His entire family is involved with the fast growing chain, which boasts a newly opened Riverhead restaurant and three soon-to-open eateries up island in Ronkonkoma, Hauppauge and Commack, he reports.
Daughter, Hannah, named the restaurant and came up with the recipe for Sabrosa’s tasty guacamole. Son Chase is a manager, son J.B. handles the business’s social media and marketing efforts, and wife, Donna, is busy working on a hostess program.
Giving back to the community is of utmost importance to the entrepreneur, who has deep philanthropic roots here in the Hamptons. The AHRC Suffolk board member has made numerous charitable contributions to the East End, including raising funds and donating his time and expertise as the owner of Water Mill-based Pert Construction Corp. for the creation of Southampton Youth Services, as well as for renovations of Sacred Hearts Church, the Rogers Memorial Library and the Southampton Cultural Center, among others.
Through Sabrosa, Mr. Andreassi and his team have donated more than $20,000 to local charities in the year since the Water Mill restaurant has been open. The recipient organization of the philanthropic efforts changes monthly, he says, adding that October’s is the Coalition for Women’s Cancer at Southampton Hospital. Past recipients have included Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, Hope in the Hamptons, Parrish Art Museum, Flying Point Foundation for Autism, Maureen’s Haven and more.
Mr. Andreassi says that he hopes to give more as Sabrosa grows. The charitable program is already underway in Riverhead, and it will also be implemented at the newest Sabrosa locations up island once they open.
“We give now, and we’ll continue to give more in the future,” says Mr. Andreassi. “That’s supposed to be a big part of what being a community business should be about.”
Learn more about Sabrosa Mexican Grill at www.sabrosamexicangrill.com.