Have you been yawning about all the bar openings in Bushwick while yearning for some place healthy for a change? Newly open Pitanga (207 Starr St) will make you very happy.
Raquel Furtado’s dream of opening a fresh cold-pressed raw food juice bar has finally come true. This Brazilian beauty wields a wisecrack and a smile like the seasoned NYC bartender she is when she greets you at Pitanga, Bushwick’s new social temple to healthy living. Smack in the middle of Jefftown’s nightlife expansion area, on Starr St between Irving and Wyckoff Aves, Pitanga represents the perfect place to hang out while NOT beating your liver to a pulp.
Pitanga’s interior evokes a really healthy daytime dive. It is the antithesis and yet somehow directly related to the dive bar theme. There’s a row of barstools at the counter and one long wooden table for family-style seating. The interior is dominated by a white linen and white tile French cottage kitchen flair. The obligatory exposed brick and wall art is resoundingly Bushwick. Overall the ambience has the feel of oxygen and freshly-hewn hardwood – if that’s not too synesthetic for you.
The vibe between the laughing customers at the bar and the employees is decidedly 2AM Thursday but in a place that visually screams Saturday morning. Or as Raquel puts it, “I really like the style we’ve created here because most people that come react to the space as if it is a bar. It looks like a bar and people chill here like it’s a bar. That is very on purpose. I’m really happy to transition back to being asleep at 3 in the morning instead of being behind a bar in Manhattan – unless I want to be. “
Ginger Back from Pitanga
Pitanga may have just opened a physical location, but the venture has been three years in making. “Pitanga started three years ago as a bottle delivery service to café’s and such,” explained Raquel. “We were working out of a shared kitchen making cold pressed juices, salads, and cleanses. I am a nutritionist. My passion for healthy food came from a personal challenge I had with my own health years ago. By applying what I learned from researching healthy eating, I was able to improve my own situation. I was sold from there. It worked for me so I started making recipes for friends and family. The idea to do it as a business came from there.”
“The old business was online only and it was hard to have a public face that creates interaction with the brand. Online they don’t get to meet us and we don’t get to know our customers well. Beyond feedback, it’s more fun this way,” she added.
Raquel gave me a Green Power smoothie – their popular go-to at the moment – and I was surprised at how neatly the green, bitter flavors were made to compliment the rounder, sweet fruits, elevating their presence by way of supportive accompaniment. It’s deliciously fresh, light on the vegetable and leafy notes just behind some bright pineapple and citrus flavors.
Raquel explained the logic behind the recipe from a nutritionists’ angle, “I made this as a recipe years ago for my clients that were finishing a cleanse. I found it was a good way to introduce a pleasant and sustainable raw smoothie to their diets that would inspire them to continue eating healthy. It has a little sweet – it’s very accessible but packed with raw spinach, house-made almond milk, almond butter for protein (and to make you feel full) so really it’s a just a sneaky green smoothie. It’s packed full of the right things but for every palette. It can make you believe in a vegetable-based diet.”
One more thing. They bake Pao de Queijo here, a Brazilian cheese biscuit that you MUST have. It’s essentially the beignet of Brazil – except cheesy, chewy, light and aromatic – and made simply out of yucca flour, cheese, milk and eggs. It’s a staple of Brazilian snack counters and bodegas. If you are from Brazil, here’s your taste of home. I’m telling you, don’t walk past Starr and Irving without stopping in for at least that. I promise you’ll end up bringing your friends and dates by so you can introduce them to their new favorite thing.
Pao de Queijo com cafe