Sabrosa Makes Healthy Eating “Tasty”

Five years ago, the Wellness Foundation Challenge at Southampton Hospital motivated Jay Andreassi to eat healthier. These days, Andreassi hails it as the inspiration behind Sabrosa Mexican Grill, a fast-casual Mexican restaurant that focuses on plant-based food, healthy proteins and fresh veggies. The eatery opened its fourth location in Commack in May and is scheduled to open in Hauppauge in August.

Sabrosawhich means tasty in Spanishwas born out of necessity. After attending the challenge, which focused on healthy living and eating tips, Andreassi searched for quick-stop eateries that serve healthy lunch food. He came up empty.

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sabrosa mexican grill's owner and founder jay andreassi at their recently-opened commack location / image: sabrosa mexican grill

Sabrosa’s owner and founder Jay Andreassi at the recently-opened Commack location. image: sabrosa mexican grill

Through help from New York Yankees nutritionist and best-selling author Cynthia Sass, Andreassi created a diverse menu at Sabrosa with unique low-sodium and plant-based options. He opened his first location in Water Mill in 2014. Spots in Riverhead and Lake Ronkonkoma followed.

The chain prides itself on cleanliness, friendliness of staff and its commitment to serving the highest-quality food. 

“All my stores have the ‘W’ for ‘Wellness,’” said Andreassi of the health designation granted by the Wellness Foundation of East Hampton. The organization reviews the menu content of eateries to see if they meet certain health standards.

The menu is loaded with all the Mexican delicacies one would expect—burritos, tacos, burrito bowls—but with a healthy twist. Patrons can choose whole wheat tortillas, tacos with lettuce shells—which Andreassi highly recommended—and a variety of other surprises like tofu, quinoa, vegan soup or vegetarian chili.

image: sabrosa mexican grill

image: sabrosa mexican grill

But carnivores fear not; Sabrosa has meats like barbacoa, steak, carnitas and chicken, all of which are marinated for 24 hours before being cooked. And for the taco-lover that likes to stick to tradition, feel free to pile on the white or brown rice, black or pinto beans, fajita vegetables, cheese, sour cream and salsas.

Andreassi’s advice? Guacamole should go on everything. Perfected over a three-month span by his daughter when she was 14, Sabrosa’s guacamole is revered by customers as “the best guacamole they’ve ever had.”

Apart from his mission to serve healthy food and make people think about their wellness, one of Andreassi’s biggest points of pride for Sabrosa is its philanthropic aspect; the restaurant has donated over $60,000 to local charities thus far.

Every month, Sabrosa has a “charity of the month”—in the past they have donated to Cure MS, Flying Point Autism, the Marty Lyons Foundation and the LGBT Network, among many others. Every day, they match the price of the purchase of the first customer in each of their stores, put that into a fund, and write $500 checks to whichever charity organization they are focusing on at the end of the month.

“I realized we needed a culture and I wanted our culture to stand for something,” Andreassi said. “I always say that if we can make a little bit of money with Sabrosa, we’re going to make sure we always give back.”

image: sabrosa mexican grill

image: sabrosa mexican grill

Andreassi is enjoying his healthy lifestyle and the positive feedback he continues to get from the old and young alike.

During the school year, students from Southampton High School would flock to Sabrosa during their 10:30am lunch break, 30 minutes before Sabrosa is scheduled to open, and the manager would open early for them.

“[It’s] what this place is all about,” Andreassi said, referring to the excitement that the younger generation has for his “next-generation” style food. “It’s all about coming up with new ideas to serve proper food, helping you [to] feel better and have more energy. We’re different than most Mexican grills and once people realize that, they just keep coming and I’m very proud of that.”