With warmer weather comes the desire to eat light. It’s hard to pack in a big meal when it’s hot out and, anyhow, beach body sleek becomes that much more important when you shed layers.
Nonetheless, eating out remains a pleasure.
The challenge, therefore, is to find restaurants where the food is satisfying without inspiring gluttony.
Here are some favorites from around the borough.
Istanbul Bay (8002 Fifth Avenue; 929-292-2353) offers up fresh and flavorful Turkish foods that absolutely hit the spot. The vegetarian appetizer plate is filled with regional favorites such as tabbouleh, babaghanoush and hummus, plus a super refreshing yogurt dip that is nothing short of addictive. The Shepherd Salad is another good choice, as is the chicken gyro.
Sometimes, nothing but Asian food will do. I have a particular weakness for Vietnamese fare, particularly Bun Thit Nuong, light and elegant rice vermicelli, in a bowl with grilled pork, marinated veggies and fresh herbs. I particularly like the version served up at Pho Vietnam (1243 Avenue U; 718-998-2858).
Avocaderia (238 36th Street; 347-227-0350) has caused a sensation since its opening with its avocado-centric menu. Its offerings are light and bright and fabulously fresh, from the signature Guaca to the Greek Island Salad, which is chock-full of goodies along with chunks of avocado, including feta cheese, sundried tomatoes, mesclun, pistachio nuts, kalamata olives, and bits of cucumber, celery, tomato and fennel.
Campania (9824 Fourth Avenue; 347-517-4868) is known for its pizza, but also offers up such light and appealing appetizers as its Homemade Mozzarella with roasted peppers which takes the concept of fresh to a whole new level. The pizzas aren’t necessary overly filling either — split the Lombarda (topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, parmesan shavings and truffle oil) and get up from lunch happy but not stuffed.
Prospect Heights’ Kimchi Grill (766 Washington Avenue; 718-360-1839) offers up small plates with big flavor that hit the spot without overdoing it. Bowls and tacos feature fillings with Asian flavors that tease and please the palate, with enough fresh veggies to feel virtuous. Pico de gallo and kimchi provide harmonious flavors from what might otherwise be considered dueling cuisines. Yum, and again, yum!
It’s back to Industry City for another standout, Kotti (220 36th Street), which is also available at Smorgasburg. The menu is tiny, but that doesn’t matter — you’ll crave the marinated, spit-roasted chicken Kotti serves up in sandwiches or salads. And, the bread — custommade for Kotti — is out of this world.