Chef Tara Punzone opened the doors to Pura Vita, a one-of-a-kind New York Italian plant-based inspired restaurant and wine bar that has become the go-to destination for people looking for hearty, delicious, plant-based options throughout the Southland.
Recently, WAN had the opportunity to share some delectable dishes created by the talented Chef, who at 12-years-old told her father she would open a vegan Italian restaurant one day. WAN visited the eatery’s hip West Hollywood location and quickly understood why Pura Vita is about much more than just food.
While she always knew that she loved animals growing up and did not want to eat them, “there were missing pieces” to how her love for animals would transform the way she looked at food. Tara was exposed to what really happens in slaughterhouses after watching a video in school. She then made the enlightening decision to throw her lunch bag away and went home a vegan.
While her parents did not understand her decision at the time, they were still very supportive of her choice and a young Chef Tara began transforming her Italian family recipes into her own Italian vegan version; experimenting with fresh plant-based ingredients, her dream started to turn into reality.
The aspiring chef, whose grandparents ran a local sandwich shop in New York, also learned at an early age how to make everything from scratch.
“I decided to open Pura Vita a year and a half ago while I was visiting Rome and witnessed how much the world of veganism and plant-based food had progressed there. I realized that if I don’t make this happen right now, someone else will,” explained the longtime Italian American vegan from Brooklyn, who has spent the last 20 years honing her skills and running several of New York City and Los Angeles’ fine-dining plant-based restaurants.
“Nothing comes out of a bag. Everything is made fresh here,” explained Chef Tara, who believes health and balance are also important ingredients to each of her signature dishes. “We pride ourselves on using the best organic, sustainable, clean, plant-based ingredients.”
“It’s not just about meat, it’s a lifestyle,” explained the compassionate chef. “Everything in Pura Vita is vegan.”
“Even the chairs and the wine,” continued Chef Tara pointing to the extensive selection of vegan and biodynamic wines which are produced on self-sustaining farms and vineyards surrounded by animals who help to fertilize the soil.
While Pura Vita is vegan, “a majority of the guests who come to eat at Pura Vita are not vegan, they are just looking for a great Italian restaurant.”
“I am just making food and sharing what I enjoy to eat with others. You are basically coming to my house for a meal…only my home kitchen is much larger,” Chef Tara said with a laugh.
Pura Vita is located at 8274 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, California, 90046.