In New York City, Special Diets Get Special Attention From De Maria's New Chef

"Gluten-free" and "dairy-free" used to mean "flavor-free" in most cases, but you've surely noticed that story's been changing for the better over the past few years. Talented and imaginative chefs have been transforming ingredients and techniques to be more inclusive to those with dietary restrictions, as well as to encourage all their patrons to rethink their perceptions of healthy "alternatives."

De Maria's new chef, Adriana Urbina, has perfected this two-pronged approach with her menu that's riddled with healthy, beautiful, and—of course most importantly—delicious dishes, thanks to many gluten- and dairy-free ingredients (GF and DF, respectively). There's cauliflower and aged Gouda buns alongside amaranth crackers (GF); snapper ceviche is accompanied by cashew leche de tigre and citrus (GF, DF); and for dessert, the vegan chocolate avocado cake with lime avocado frosting and toasted pistachios, to give just a few examples.

"I want everyone to be able to try my food, so I create dishes that can appeal to many diets and eating styles. Also, it's an exciting challenge for me to try to create delicious flavor without having to use lots of butter or cream," explained Urbina in the restaurant's dining room that's as gorgeous as her dishes, having just won the 2018 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design, 75 seats and under.

Much like world-famous culinary innovators like René Redzepi of NOMA fame, Urbina relies on her discipline and intuition to re-imagine certain ingredients and stretch them beyond their traditional use. "I recipe test as much as I can, trying to use the same ingredient in different ways. I love to try new things and keep challenging myself in the kitchen."