It’s almost oxymoronic, this union. On the one hand, there are ultraviolet irradiation purifiers and reverse-osmosis membrane separators. On the other, a glass of water. Yes, the plain-Jane, out-of-the-faucet variety. Recently, several high-end restaurants have married the two, procreating a tap-water apotheosis.
Their matchmaker? That steamrolling nudge called the Green Movement. In an effort to reduce the environmental cost of bottled water, many restaurateurs are purchasing sophisticated water-filtration systems for their taps. The marriage doesn’t come cheap. Figure at least $5,000. And that’s just for the main event. Maintenance, filters, and employee training are compulsory “extras.”
What are they getting for that price? Water that’s been UV-ray-zapped of microbes, carbon-filtered of chlorine, and membrane-purified of compounds. Some systems even come with reusable glass containers for bottled-water addicts. Talk about clean and green.
Antipasti (1 N Broadway, White Plains 914-949-3500; antipastiny.com) owner Joseph Mazzotta is a confirmed admirer. Bottled water at his tony restaurant comes from a Natura filtration system, which purifies, disinfects, chills, and can even carbonate tap water before pouring it into Natura’s own glass bottles (OK, humans assist with that part). Its carbon filters and antimicrobial UV pathway know to reject mercury, lead, and arsenic (present in miniscule amounts in tap water) yet retain calcium, zinc, and magnesium. For about $6,000, they should. “I’ll put the taste and purity of our water up against any imported bottled water,” boasts Mazzotta. Diners who order the Natura bottles, both still and sparkling, are charged what they would be for conventional bottled water. “This wasn’t meant to be a cost reduction to the customer,” Mazzotta notes. “It’s about decreasing the amount of bottles.”
At 42 (Ritz-Carlton Westchester, 1 Renaissance Sq, White Plains 914-761-4242; 42therestaurant.com), chef/owner Anthony Goncalves’s priority is gastronomy, not green. His triple-layer micro-carbon filter Hoshizaki system purifies not only water for drinking, but for pasta machines, steam ovens, chocolate equipment, and the multi-purpose French Bonnet range. “It helps maintain the expensive cooking equipment,” says 42 project architect Michael Raffio of the mid-$5,000-range Hoshizaki system, which claims to reduce up to 99.9 percent of disinfectant chlorine. Primarily, Raffio notes, “the system enables the chef to offer his best-caliber cooking.” Serving better filtered tap water, he adds, is an ancillary benefit. With 42’s system, you can expect silkier ganache and tastier fettuccine, but no carbonated water and no reusable bottles (cooking equipment: 1; planet: 0).