Column: Recologie fills a need in New Rochelle

Owners Judith Weber, left, and Maria Cisneros.

Owners Judith Weber, left, and Maria Cisneros.

Recologie is hard to define, because it’s so many things.

It began as a friendship between Judith Weber, a ceramic artist and patron saint of all things artistic in New Rochelle, and Maria Cisneros, an artist whose life’s work has been focused on repurposing and saving nature.

Their friendship goes back more than 20 years and, after two long and fruitful careers, their paths came together to create Recologie, a multifunctional environment that combines style and taste with social responsibility.

The small storefront on a side street in downtown New Rochelle belies what you will unearth inside. When you enter, you’ll find a retail section unlike any other in Westchester. Each item for sale has a story and in some way represents Cisneros and Weber’s vision.

The vegetable curry with cashews over jasmine rice.

The vegetable curry with cashews over jasmine rice.

Everything in Recologie is recycled or repurposed. The two friends believe when you buy something it has impact, which is why you will find only eco-conscious local and global fair trade products on display.

It’s that special kind of place you know you can visit to find the perfect, thoughtful gift for just the right person.

As you move further back, past the retail area, you enter Vistro Café, their vegan/vegetarian café.

 

 

I’m always looking for the next best thing when it comes to food, but, as of a few days ago, I had let the vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free movement pass me by.

Carrot ginger soup with pumpkin seeds served on Judith’s pottery.

Carrot ginger soup with pumpkin seeds served on Judith’s pottery.

I like protein in my meals, the kind that had parents.

I find many vegetarian and vegan restaurants spend too much time trying to make fake food taste real. If a menu has the words faux or mock, I’m moving on. But Vistro Café is nothing like that.

Weber and Cisneros pride themselves on serving food that has strong flavor profiles with a farm-to-table menu. Each day there is a fresh soup, like the carrot ginger with pumpkin seeds soup I tried, which was full of flavor and extremely fresh.

Their soups are vegan and change with what’s in season.

They always have salads with a choice of various grains on the side. The menu offers a black bean burger with chipotle cream, which can come on a gluten-free roll if requested, as well as savory empanadas. Their paninis are delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed the goat cheese with balsamic red onions and fig compote.

They also serve a fresh roasted eggplant with roasted red peppers and arugula pesto.

There is nothing fake about any of these items.

Retail repurposing at Recologie. Photos/Lisa Jardine

Retail repurposing at Recologie. Photos/Lisa Jardine

The day I was there, the special of the day was vegetable curry with cashews over jasmine rice, which was divine.

Recologie carries a nice assortment of vegan and gluten-free baked goods, from cakes to muffins to cupcakes, as well as dessert paninis made with dark chocolate and sliced strawberries or peanut butter with Nutella and bananas.

All of the meals are served on the ceramics Weber herself creates, making your food not only delicious but photo-worthy.

 

 

The dinnerware is available for sale at the store, but if you buy the ones from which you ate, there is a 20 percent discount.

Moving back behind the café is the new event space, which brings an entirely different dimension to the enterprise community.

“Our inspiration for the space was Busboys and Poets, the restaurant, bookstore, lounge and theater in Washington, D.C. We’re interested in art and business growing together to enrich the community,” Weber said. “New Rochelle needed a space like this, a networking spot where people with common interests could come together. We envision hosting exhibitions, lectures, book signings, readings, fundraisers, private parties and meetings here. The space will be ready in June.”

Weber has a lot of experience with artists and the spaces in which they work.

In 1983, she was one of the co-founders of Media Loft, the first loft established for artists in Westchester County. In 2003, along with her partners, she was responsible for converting the site to a thriving mixed-use, live/work artists-in-residence condominium that created affordable and secure workspace for its artist community.

Recologie is also an art gallery and, although they’ve only been open for six months, they’ve had three different shows.

Each artist must represent their philosophy of exhibiting fine, applied and decorative arts that incorporate recycled, repurposed and sustainable materials in the creation of the work.

There are guidelines on their website, recologie.com, for interested artists.

One of the artists currently on display is a self-proclaimed dumpster diver who incorporates things she finds in garbage dumpsters into her art.

The shows change about every two-and-a-half months. Each show kicks-off with a premiere, at which charter members of Recologie are invited, and then quickly follows with a gallery opening for the public at -large.

The Lawton Street storefront of Recologie in New Rochelle.

The Lawton Street storefront of Recologie in New Rochelle.

The name Recologie may be familiar to many Westchester residents. Before teaming up with Weber, Cisneros owned the recycled and repurposed retail store of the same name in Larchmont for five years. When the two women opened the new space together, they decided to keep the name as it worked perfectly for what they were trying
to accomplish.

“I want to inspire people to take something ordinary and make it extraordinary,” Cisneros said.

That applies to everything at Recologie.

Recologie
49 Lawton St., New Rochelle,
914-439-7451

Tuesday through Saturday,
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Open evenings for
scheduled events.

Upcoming events, free
and open to the public.

April 10, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.,
Ode to the Bard
Sponsored by the
New Rochelle
Council on the Arts

A gathering to celebrate Shakespeare and a call
to poets everywhere.

April 17, 7 p.m.,
“Vegucated,”
a film presentation.

A 2011 American
documentary that
explores the challenges
of converting to a vegan diet.

To stay informed about
upcoming events, sign-up
for the email list at the
bottom right corner of
the homepage.

____________________________
“I’m always on the lookout for a great story, an amazing restaurant, an
unusual day trip or a must-see cultural event in Westchester County.”

To contact Lisa, email
lisa@hometwn.com.
And you can follow her on Twitter, @westchesterwand