Are you in dire need of a home cooked meal? Craving some delicious chicken fettuccini alfredo? Jonathan Williams, a current University of Connecticut sophomore, has just begun running a delicious, vegan, non-profit restaurant out of his Oaks on the Square apartment.
Primo Amore specializes in vegan Italian dishes that will leave anyone wanting more. After turning vegan about eight months ago, Williams found it difficult to find foods in the dining hall that catered to his diet. Wanting to give back to the community and to his fellow vegan peers he came up with the idea of creating a restaurant in his apartment. Not only does he provide the Storrs community with fresh home-cooked meals but he also donates all the proceeds to various animal welfare charities. His restaurant being completely non-profit allows him to invest money into his other passions, two being animal rights and the corruption that takes place in the animal industry.
Williams explains Primo Amore’s mission as a restaurant that is “affordable, environmentally friendly, and has ethically sourced food choices.” After receiving a reservation, Williams heads to the grocery store to buy fresh produce that will ensure the tastiest meal possible. He begins his cooking process by first trying to find a natural alternative to the dairy/meat product. He refrains from buying sugar products that are essentially created for a vegan diet but instead tries to find substitutes that come from the Earth. For example, as opposed to using sugar Williams uses agave. Regardless, usually only one or two ingredients in the recipes need to be made vegan. Primo Amore is not only a restaurant, but a culinary experience. Customers are able to watch Williams cook and prepare their entire meal, which makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
Williams prepared a tartufo for me, a delicious dessert made from “cacao butter, cashews, cocoa powder, almond milk and vanilla extract.” He drizzled vegan chocolate over the cold dessert, which then turned into a delicious crunchy shell. The tartufo was beyond rich in flavor, melting in my mouth with every bite I took. The blended cashew bottom leveled out the rich chocolate to create a perfect balance for my tastebuds. Being born in Italy and living in a very Italian family, this tartufo was as scrumptious as the ones I have eaten in Capri, located off the southern tip of Italy. I would have never known that the cashews replaced dairy cheese if I had not known about the vegan aspect of Primo Amore’s mission.
William’s love for food began in middle school after watching the same cooking show everyday with his grandfather after coming back from school. He developed a strong passion for food and finds cooking a relaxing pastime. A book he read prompted him to watch the documentary “Earthlings,” which delves deep into all aspects of animal cruelty. From that moment Williams knew he needed to be more aware of the consequences of simple decisions and thus ultimately decided to practice veganism. He believes that in 20 to 30 years there will be a significant increase in veganism, with A-listers such as Beyonce and Jay-Z already making the transition. After he graduates, Williams hopes to possibly open a restaurant in Storrs Center where he can continue his mission.
Primo Amore is predominantly reservation-based. To make a reservation and have your own culinary experience, visit the Facebook page at Primo Amore UConn or on Instagram @primoamoreuconn.
Jordana Castelli is a campus correspodent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.