Not just desserts

Published 10:22 pm Monday, March 9, 2015

When Suffolk Restaurant Week returns later this month, folks whose sweet tooth finds itself at odds with eating healthy will be able to dig in and keep a clear conscience.

For the second year running, the week that ushers Suffolk’s best kept culinary secrets into the public spotlight, slated for March 14-21, will include a healthy dessert contest.

Up for grabs is prize money totaling $4,500, from Healthy People Healthy Suffolk. The Suffolk News-Herald also sponsors the competition, along with the Obici Healthcare Foundation, Stop Diabetes, Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community, Suffolk Tourism and Love Local Buy Suffolk.

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“It went really, really well,” Jett Johnson, Healthy People Healthy Suffolk program manager for the partnership, said of 2014’s inaugural dessert competition.

“That’s why we’re doing it again this year.”

Nine restaurants participated in 2014, both from downtown and North Suffolk. Harper’s Table won the Judge’s Award; Cedar Point Country Club won the Presentation Award; and Suffolk BBQ scooped the People’s Choice Award.

The desserts, which go on Restaurant Week menus, have to adhere to strict rules: fewer than 250 calories, with less than 30 percent of those calories from fat and less than 60 percent from carbohydrates.

The same categories will be repeated this year, with the Judge’s Award winning $2,000, and bragging rights. Prizes for the second two categories are $1,500, for presentation, and $1,000, for the most online votes.

Johnson said there’s still time for restaurants that haven’t already done so to sign up for the challenge. “We’ve reached out to all the restaurants, and currently we have seven,” he said.

According to the feedback from last year’s entrants, devising a dessert healthy enough to quality for the competition isn’t as difficult as it sounds, Johnson said.

He also said the desserts proved popular: According to sales reports provided by the restaurants, two of the three winning deserts outsold other desserts on the menu.

“People were certainly interested in it,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the competition promotes putting healthy options on menus and shows how easy it is for restaurants to do so.

“It’s really not that difficult, and it can be good for business,” he said.

According to the city, participating eateries in Restaurant Week this year are Al Forno Pizzeria Italian Restaurant, Amici’s Pizza Café, Baron’s Pub, Cedar Point Country Club, East Coast Taco Company, George’s Steakhouse, Harper’s Table, Mosaic Restaurant, Nana Sushi, The Plaid Turnip, Rajput Indian Cuisine, River Stone Chophouse, Suffolk BBQ and Vintage Tavern.

During Restaurant Week, participating eateries offer three-course, price fixed menus at the deluxe ($10 lunch/$20 dinner) or premier ($15 lunch/$30 dinner) levels for lunch and/or dinner.

There are no coupons, tickets or vouchers needed.

For full Restaurant Week menus from participating eateries, visit