In New York City, everyone has a trusty bodega. Inside, it’s stocked from floor to ceiling with the essentials: toilet paper, juice, milk, popcorn, toothpaste. The lighting is usually bad and the smells can range from plastic to pastrami sandwiches. Bodegas are for grabbing and going, not for lingering or procuring food items made without preservatives. But there is something comforting and convenient about these little local shops, and that’s exactly why Nicole Berrie wanted to create her own version for those who are eating green and following a vegan diet.
Last week, the founder and editor of healthy lifestyle website Bonberi opened Bonberi Bodega in a well-lit corner shop on Bleecker Street in the West Village. Half of the space belongs to her for the next six months and the other half to a florist business called Fleurotica. Together, their occupancy is part of the Love, Bleecker revitalization project, a real estate endeavor that is aiming to bring shoppers back to this once-vibrant retail street.
Just past the front door, Berrie has stocked a long antique dining table with what she considers to be the essentials: Golde matcha and turmeric powders, Seed & Mill tahini, spices from Daphnis and Chloe, and Brightland extra virgin olive oil. On the wall shelving and in nearby minimal wooden crates are more goods, including chips made with coconut flour and all-natural sprinkles. For purists who are as passionate about what they put on their bodies as in them, there is even a cherry-picked selection of Berrie’s favorite clean beauty products on hand, from Megababe’s aluminum-free rose deodorant and Tenoverten’s nontoxic nail polish to a renewing face oil from LINNÉ botanicals made with rosemary and sage.
All that shopping may make you hungry—as in, need to eat right now. A refrigerator in the back of the room is where you’ll find the fresh food, which is made everyday by Berrie and her team. They are all her original recipes and include options like a chickpea niçoise salad, a quinoa bibimbap, and coconut pho. There is also an “Elvis Jr.” sandwich made with almond butter, strawberry jelly, and banana on whole wheat sourdough, as well as a hot cauliflower bisque.
Lighter portable snacking options include vegan and gluten-free zucchini muffins, banana bread, and coconut granola too. The juices, smoothies, and booster shots are all made in collaboration with Grass Roots Juicery in Brooklyn. Starting this month, there will be various programming and panel discussions on topics like gut health, birthing, natural beauty, and food combining with specialists who range from a colonics expert to natural beauty guru Tata Harper.
Consider it a way for Bonberi to set herself and her store apart from the dizzying, now “ubiquitous” world of wellness. “As a native New Yorker, I cherish my local bodega for all of the essentials but wish they stocked products that were clean,” added Berrie, who aims introduce the plant-based lifestyle in a friendly, casual way that doesn’t “require an herbalist encyclopedia to decipher.”
It’s a bright and happy space, one that invites grabbing an easy (and delicious) juice or a salad and getting on with the rest of your day—or lingering to hang out should you wish. Flanking the large windows overlooking the street, high wooden stools at the front of Bonberi make for ideal perching, people-watching, and munching. Warning: You may not be able to leave.
Below, Berrie shares her top seven favorite items to pick up from the Bodega.
Dulse Caesar Salad
“This is my absolute favorite salad. It’s a throwback to those cold crispy ones you can get at a steak house, but completely vegan. We use dulse, an algae, instead of anchovies, which gives it that yummy ocean flavor and a brazil nut parmesan for crunch.”
Tenoverten Rose Oil
“I’m obsessed with this oil from my favorite nontoxic nail-care brand, Tenoverten. I always throw it in my bag when traveling since my cuticles get so dry. The subtle rose scent is beautiful.”
The Real Coconut Sea Salt & Vinegar Chips
“Is there such thing as a cult chip? If there is, this is it. I recently discovered this brand while on holiday. Owner Daniella Hunter also has a chic hotel in Tulum, and her chips are grain-free, though you wouldn’t know it, with the perfect firm crunch. I love to serve them with my raw coconut ceviche or a generous helping of spicy guacamole.”
Seed and Mill Tahini
“Tahini is one of my favorite ingredients to include in recipes, and this is by far and away my favorite one. They grind the sesame seeds here in New York and they make the most luscious tahini that I like to spread on sourdough toast or blend with some lemon juice, ice water (an Israeli secret), and sea salt for the perfect simple salad dressing.”
Tata Harper Be Adorned Lip Treatment
“My friend and stylist, Danielle Nachmani, turned me onto this lip treatment that has the most subtle rosy hue. I hate wearing makeup but this instantly brightens my lips. Sometimes I put a little on my cheeks and eyelids. It just makes you feel pretty.”
Drink the Sun Juice
“This is a bit of a riff off your typical green juice with fennel, lemon, and ginger and it’s super bright and tart. I always start my day with this juice to make sure I have an alkaline, hydrated foundation even if I veer off path later in the day.”
Brightland Olive Oil
“This olive oil is my new favorite luxury at every meal. I love to drizzle it over grilled vegetables or even as a simple dip to crudités. It is sourced from California olives and contains no fillers or preservatives. My favorite detail is that the bottles are coated in UV-matte protectant to prevent rancidity (so important when it comes to digesting oils) and are also 100 percent recyclable.”
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