American Way: How did you come up with the Maria menu?
MARIA TRABOCCHI: While I love my husband’s passion for food, I always knew I didn’t want to be big just because we have a restaurant. So we developed this menu. He cooks, I taste; I see myself as the customer.
AW: What kind of dishes does the Maria menu offer?
MT: It’s light and feminine, but not boring. Everything has color. It’s like shoes: You have the plain flip-flops; those are Caesar salads. Or you can buy the gorgeous Yves Saint Laurent colored pumps; that’s our blood-orange salad with fresh basil and hazelnuts. It’s so pretty!
AW: What should diners look for to stay healthy?
MT: Simple cooking methods — no sauce. Ask questions, like how it’s cooked. Go with fish. But it’s opportunity cost. You can have that piña colada on the beach, but then maybe you sacrifice at dinner. And make a plan: On Mondays, have something green for dinner. On Tuesdays, fruit for dessert. If you see the ingredients on the menu, ask them to prepare something special for you, like a tomato salad.
AW: Anything to avoid?
MT: Anything fried, or with butter or cream. But it’s not that you can [never have it]. Deprivation makes you miserable. It’s about portion control. Try everything … a bite of calamari, a half slice of cake. You don’t need the whole thing; take the rest home.
AW: Any last tips?
MT: Make the right restaurant choice. There are healthier options at smaller, family-owned restaurants with organic menu items.