Road Trip to Bravo NY Pizzeria

This month The Healthy Giraffe community (22 of us!!!) visited Bravo NY Pizzeria in downtown Safety Harbor, FL. In today’s blog I’ll share how this restaurant got on our list, our experience and just a bit of information regarding cheese.

About four weeks ago I was walking down Main Street in downtown Safety Harbor with some friends and as we walked by Bravo NY Pizzeria I walked in and asked the gentleman behind the counter if they offered a vegan cheese option for their pizza. He paused for a brief moment and said “no.” I responded by stating I was looking for a pizza place that offered vegan cheese options as there weren’t any close to downtown Safety Harbor that I knew.

I suggested if he offered a vegan cheese option it could open up a market for him that isn’t currently being served in the area and I would offer to host an event to try. These Healthy Giraffe Road Trips give us a chance to try different restaurants, foods, and support local businesses. Tony told me he would call his distributor to see if they offered the vegan cheese and would follow up with me.

Tony followed up and confirmed he could order the vegan cheese and I shared when I would host the gathering. The vegan cheese supplied is from Violife. When I saw the packaging I thought to myself, “I have seen that somewhere and I thought it was The Cider Press Cafe.” I looked it up and yes it was. The Cider Press Cafe announced in February they were carrying the vegan option. When they made their announcement only five locations in Florida offered the variety of vegan cheese options from Violife. The difference with this alternative vs. many others is Violife is based on coconut oil vs. soy. Either way it’s better than cheese derived from a cow.

A few facts about cheese and dairy I’ll share here via Dr. Neal Barnard, President of The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, and it’s tragic impact on weight gain and a grotesque and maybe funny example depending on your sense of humor. I am going to write a future blog on cheese so I’ll share more about it’s impact on chronic illness and more there. For now, I’ll share this:

  • The rise in obesity rates and cheese consumption in the U.S. follow the same sharp trajectory upward (The Cheese Trap, pg 32); over 71% of the U.S. is either overweight or obese
  • Consumption of cheese in the U.S. Per Capita in pounds:
    • 1909 – 3.8 pounds per person per year
    • 2013 – 33.4 pounds per person per year; geez – almost 800% increase in consumption?!?!?
  • Fat Content (Percentage of Calories from Fat) from a variety of common foods
    • 32%  Sea Trout
    • 29%  Leanest beef
    • 23%  Skinless chicken breast
    • 16%  White Tuna
    •  8%  Broccoli
    •  4%  Beans
    • 1-5%  Rice
    •   1%  Sweet potato
    • 70%  Cheese – ouch!!!

  • Average milk (in cheese) has 320 million pus cells per liter but the legal limit set by the FDA (in the U.S.) is 750 million pus cells per liter; Dr. Alan Goldhamer notes, “picture a cow with a festering wound and stick a straw into it and suck. That’s the image you should have in mind.” – There is a limit on how much pus we should consume?!?!? Seriously…

With these in mind it’s a good thing there are many cheese alternatives. I love Julie Piatt’s cookbook, This Cheese is Nuts, for incredible non-dairy cheese recipes including the best Mac & Cheese I have ever had.

Back at the pizza shop the Healthy Giraffe community took over the restaurant. We had to bring in tables from the outside. What a great problem to have. After the gathering I had a nice chat with the owner Tony, who thanked me and asked for feedback as this was his first time cooking with the vegan cheese. I shared a few of my own thoughts on modifications and he was grateful I shared. I’ll be back to try it again for sure.

It was great having my great friend Glenn in town from Maryland to share the experience. He is the graphic designer on The Healthy Giraffe and our friendship goes way back to high school. He got to catch up with my sister, Jamie, while in town so that was a super benefit to the lunch gathering.

Fred and his daughter, Savannah, joined for the first time. Thank you Elia and Jennifer for joining them outside for a bit as seating was very tight. It was a nice day to sit out there thankfully.

I got to hear about Kayleigh’s run race experience on the Courtney Campbell Causeway earlier in the day which was quite challenging and interesting from a setup/organization perspective. I don’t know how they could handle that much parking for a race there. Give it up to Anthony who ran 13 miles on Clearwater Beach in the morning and then made it to her race to support.

Dave gave me a tour of their (Heather) new super cool travel van. How many people can we fit in it for Duathlon Nationals?!?!? What an impressive vehicle…

Brian and Vicky came up from St. Pete. What an awesome father/daughter combo. Geez it brings back so many memories when Morgan was that age. When leaving Vicky had the largest smile as they were headed to Cold Stone Creamery.

Michael and Ronnie got to share some trail stories with Elia and I one week after some of us got lost. Check out last week’s blog for more info there if you missed it. I think I may get more intel from these experienced gentlemen before our next adventure. It was fantastic to have Ronnie’s wife Maureen join us for the day as well…hoping Brian didn’t try to influence her into becoming a Red Sox fan…

Betty’s run streak is well over 500 consecutive days and that is a minimum of three miles each day. My career longest streak may be 10…. How impressive is that and to run during sicknesses and feeling tired.

Jenn, Chris, Betty, and Dave are still training for the Space Coast Marathon….right after Thanksgiving…that is some discipline! Hoping Gail is feeling better…race is soon… Awesome to have Amy out to another event and on the come back training trail…can’t break a streak of at least 30 races in a calendar year…that is an estimate but I swear I can’t be far off.

We already started talking about Thanksgiving. Jenn, Chris, Elia, Eva, Morgan and I will all be enjoying Jeremy Fox’s Vegan Meal for 2 via Whole Foods for Thanksgiving. Can’t wait to try!!!

Ken and Flo are back from Canada for Winter!!! It’s so nice to have them both back with the family!!!

Where do we go next?!?!?

– Add Health to Your Life







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: