Home Food + DrinkCoffee A Peek Inside Zest: A Gluten Free + Dairy-Free Cafe in Fairfield

A Peek Inside Zest: A Gluten Free + Dairy-Free Cafe in Fairfield

by Olivia Fisher
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Gluten and dairy-free entrees and baked goods can be hard to come by, but Fairfield’s Zest, located at 418 Fairfield Road, has them both. From banana bread to cookies, waffles to sandwiches, this health and wellness cafe offers so much flavor. For nearly a decade Luciana Gencarelli has been baking and crafting what we know as Zest today. Read on to learn about how her vision for Zest became the storefront we know today.

gluten dairy free cafe Fairfield nj zest

The Origin of Zest

Zest began in September 2014 when Luciana Gencarelli (Contuzzi) built her online website. After buying 400 bananas for a street fair, and only using 30, Luciana knew there was so much to learn. She spent the next few years educating herself on the food industry, perfecting recipes, and meal-prepping for clients. In March 2017, Luciana opened her first storefront in her hometown of Fairfield. Just a year later, Luicanas boyfriend TJ (now her husband) joined the team. Along with his charm, TJ bought 10 years of bakery experience, creative ideas, and positive energy.

The Ivy at Chatham

Luciana’s passion for food stems from her Italian roots and the copious hours making jarred tomato sauce and wine in the summer months. In December 2013 she graduated from Seton Hall University with a BA in Finance and Information Technology Management. Luciana graduated a semester early and took a trip to Italy. On the plane ride home, her idea for Zest was born. She quit her full-time job only six months in, but knew entrepreneurship was her calling. Luciana wanted to create delicious and nutritious meals, snacks, and desserts that were gluten and dairy-free. She also wanted to create energizing foods packed full of nutrient-rich ingredients that could help prevent disease.

Read More: Gluten-Free Versions of Gluten Foods You Miss: An Essex County Guide

What’s on the Menu

Located at 16 Little Falls Road, this health food spot offers a plethora of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free products. The expansive menu features smoothies, juices, drinks, salads, smoothie bowls, sandwiches, baked goods, and seasonal options. Zest also has a second location in Montvale, located at 2 Chestnut Ridge Road with a smaller menu than the Fairfield storefront.

Drinks + Beverages

With six smoothie flavors to choose from, customers can pick between 16 and 20-oz drinks. The Matcha Refresh-Mint smoothie features unsweetened vanilla almond milk, organic matcha, organic vanilla, plant protein powder, banana, and peppermint extract. The juices offer combinations of lemon, orange, grapefruit, ginger, beet, honey, celery, and cayenne. Latte lovers can find seven different options here, including matcha, turmeric, charcoal, Nutella, French vanilla, cocoa mocha, and cocoa peanut butter. You can add almond, coconut, oat, or soy milk to your drink.

About the Entrees

The Blue Mermaid smoothie bowl blends unsweetened coconut milk, banana, pineapple, and blue majik together. Then, the dish is topped off with granola, banana, and organic shredded coconut. The Chia Puddin’ is perfect for chia pudding lovers who don’t feel like making their own.

There are five Krust options, the Chocoholic, Ricotta, and R U Nutz which are sweet, and the Hummus and Smashed Avocado which are savory. MG pro tip: add an organic egg to the savory option for some extra protein. Zest offers five salad options to choose from which you can top off with grilled chicken, organic roasted tofu, or housemade chickpea “tofu”.

Zest has 11 sandwiches, and the 973 might just be the best. Not just because it happens to be our area code, but because it combines a baked chicken cutlet, homemade cashew cheese, pesto, peppers, arugula, and hot sauce all together on sprouted sourdough.

Baked Goods

Perhaps what you’ve all been waiting for, Zest offers 18 baked goods and treats — plus, they there’s even more of a selection if you visit in-store. Carrot cake, sweet potato, chocolate, and banana bread lovers can honor their sweet tooth at Zest.

If you’re planning a visit, you should definitely try the spoonable cookie dough. With no egg, this cookie dough isn’t raw and won’t make you sick. Zest combines chickpeas, organic peanut butter, organic agave, vegan chocolate chips, pure vanilla extract, and pink Himalayan sea salt. You’re also going to want wanna try the Baci Truffle. It’s so rich and decadent. There’s just something about chocolate and hazelnut spread that is so good.

Other baked goods include the oatmeal raisin cookie, peanut butter cookie, scone, Beer Cacao Energy Bite, sweet potato brownie, and chickpea cacao bar.

Seasonal Specials

The seasonal menu varies, but always includes season favorites. The winter drinks include a Chai Supperlatte, a Gingerbread Superlatte, and who could forget the hot chocolate. Zest also offers oatmeal bowls and soup. While it may be March, the Pumpkin Oatmeal bowl, made from pumpkin purée, organic maple syrup, pumpkin spice, bananas, pecans, and cinnamon is something worth trying.

The Avo Control, which was also available with the summer menu, is clearly a year-round hit. This dish combines sliced avocado, organic over-easy egg, homemade rice paper bacon, and hot sauce. While this is currently a part of their seasonal oatmeal bowl specials, you can substitute oatmeal for a sweet potato protein waffle.

avo toast zest

^ Avo Control

With spring almost upon us, these seasonal specials are sure to be off the menu soon, so hurry in. But, nonetheless, Zest’s spring and summer menus are sure to impress.

See More: A Guide to Vegan Ice Cream + Frozen Treats in Hoboken + Jersey City


Zest offers catering for all types of events from bridal showers to birthday parties. The spot has breakfast trays, fruit platters, hot entrees, sides, soups, baked goods, scones, muffins, and cakes. The breakfast trays serve 16 to 18 and are great for family brunches, corporate lunches, and the morning after a sleepover. You can order a tray of almond butter overnight oats, banana walnut protein waffles, carrot cake overnight oats, protein pancakes, garbanzo veggie frittata, a tofu or egg + veggie scramble, or yogurt parfait. (Psst — ask them about their special deal for brides.)

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