The wait is finally over as Justin Cucci—of local favorites such as Root Down, Ophelia’s, and Linger—opens his highly anticipated vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurant in the Berkeley Neighborhood on June 15. Simply put, Cucci hopes to challenge and excite those carnivorous taste buds with healthier, protein-focused alternatives without compromising textures, color and especially flavor.

Repurposed paint cans are used as spotlights above a Japanese Maple

Repurposed paint cans are used as spotlights above a Japanese Maple

Vital Root’s open and airy space is filled with natural light pouring in from two garage door openings and skylights covered with warm red filters. The decor is a mix of modern and retro-vintage. Cucci’s design sense is evident when looking up into the colorful repurposed paint can spotlights that create an almost exhibit-like light source above an indoor Japanese maple. Painted exposed brick walls of creamy white and dull black are adorned with vintage vegetation prints, while the back patio walls are lined with colorful cafeteria trays highlighting the herbs planted in front of them. The clear, retro resin patio table tops are filled with green grass and little plastic insects.

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The space was purchased three years ago with Cucci’s now business partner and Vital Yoga instructor and owner Desiree Springer. The two collaborated over their love of good food in hopes of creating an accessible healthy lifestyle through delicious, “crave-worthy” vegetarian-friendly dishes, while also filling a need for truly health conscientious food. Vital’s menu consists of morning fare to dinner to a build-your-own smoothie and juice option. Cucci and Springer’s goal is to provide wellness-driven eats that connect well with our bodies and are available at not only an affordable rate, but a fairly fast pace.

All photography by Lucy Beaugard.

Garage door opening in the front of Vital Root creates an alluring tease to all who walk by.

Garage door opening in the front of Vital Root creates an alluring tease to all who walk by.

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Justin Cucci opens the garage doors at Vital Root.

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Natural light spills into the backside of the restaurant.

Patio walls are lined cafeteria trays and various herbs.

Patio walls are lined cafeteria trays and various herbs.

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Vital Root hand selects each bottle of organic wine that will be served.

Vital Root hand selects each bottle of organic wine that will be served.

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Devils on Unicorns: Coconut “bacon” wrapped dates.

Devils on Unicorns: Coconut “bacon” wrapped dates.

Chilled Carrot Ginger soup.

Chilled Carrot Ginger soup.

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Kale Spring Rolls served with mushrooms, yam noodles, scallions, cucumber and an avocado “cream”.

Kale Spring Rolls served with mushrooms, yam noodles, scallions, cucumber and an avocado “cream”.

About The Author

Food + Booze Editor

Lucy is the Food + Booze editor for 303 Magazine, born in Seoul, raised just outside Philadelphia and currently residing in Sunnyside. She has an extensive background in professional photography and is still an active freelance writer. When she's not "working", you'll find her behind the lens, entertaining guests, Instagram-ing , or drinking a boxed malbec and some cold brew in the mountains.

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