Moss Café, located in Riverdale, New York and started by local Orthodox Jewish resident and entrepreneur Emily Weisberg, is a fresh take on what a kosher dining experience can be. Moss Café is what is known as a “Farm-to-Table” establishment. For the owner this means providing food from local farms that are no more than 100 miles away. “Anything you do that is good for the planet is good for the product it produces and so the food tastes better. People are used to food not tasting the way it is supposed to,” Weisberg explains of her restaurant’s philosophy of only using local suppliers.
When produce such as watermelons or strawberries are purchased in the dead of winter in the North East, it means that those products have traveled thousands of miles in order to be available in the off-season. This also means that most produce has been genetically modified in order to withstand the harsh travel conditions, and are often picked before they are truly ripe. “Locally-grown foods are optimally grown and have a more optimal taste.”
This restriction has some side effects that make Moss Café especially unique, particularly in its changing menu options. With all of the food being supplied by local farms, it means that certain produce will simply not be available during certain times of the year. However, this limitation has not stopped this gem of a restaurant from having a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu as well as full coffee options.
Emily Weisberg did not commence the journey towards her restaurant-owning dream in the expected manner. Instead of beginning at culinary school, her love of cuisine began in her home town in Wisconsin, encouraged by her family’s love of food. As a teen she started working at restaurants and later she was a barista for 10 years. In addition to her coffee shop experience, she also took a variety of coffee brewing courses all over the world. When she converted to Orthodox Judaism, she found the kosher restaurant scene to be somewhat lackluster and discovered that the majority of products being supplied were among those traveling thousands of miles. She felt there was a need within the community for a place that served healthy, locally-grown food. A byproduct of such a place would be that all of the food would taste exquisite due to the freshness of the ingredients.
Emily and her husband moved to Riverdale after meeting in Israel where they lived for many years. They believed that Riverdale’s diverse community would be able to support a place such as Moss Café. That hope turned into a reality when their Kickstarter campaign went live, and Weisberg began to receive an outpouring of support from the Riverdale Jewish community for her project.
The campaign began on July 17, 2014 and closed 30 days later, raising a little over $50,000. The restaurant finally opened its doors June 1st, 2015, and it continues to thrive just past its one year anniversary. Today the restaurant has hours Sunday through Friday, closing before the start of Shabbat. It also boasts a menu that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Sunday brunch, and a specific coffee and drinks menu.
On a typical weekday you can find a little something for everyone, whether you are looking for something simple like a housemade ricotta cheese and seasonal jam with toasted pistachios on sourdough crust or a Moroccan chickpea crepe which includes summer vegetable and chickpea tangerine, herbed yogurt, toasted red quinoa, braised greens, and a carrot mint sauce. There is also an array of homemade desserts that are sure to please any taste.
Commuters who are stopping in for a quick cup of coffee on their way to work, people who want to relax and socialize, and folks who need a place away from the bustle of home life to get work done, can all mingle and enjoy fabulous food and a fresh brewed cup of coffee at an amazing farm to table cafe that just happens to be kosher.