In 1995 Jemez Springs was selected by the National Civic League as the “All America City” in recognition of its citizens’ collective grass-roots efforts to improve their quality of life. Nowhere is that more evident than at the aptly named Consetta’s Green Restaurant on scenic Route 4 which is traversed annually by more than two million visitors.
Consetta’s desire is to provide fine dining at reasonable prices. It is committed to decreasing man’s footprint on the Earth by serving as an avenue for ideas which exemplify how to be better stewards of the Earth’s resources. To that end, the sprawling compound on which Consetta’s sits hosts organic gardens in which are grown to the extent possible, the restaurant’s vegetables, herbs and salad ingredients.
Solar ovens, a solar hot water heater and other sustainable projects allow the compound to utilize as much renewable energy as possible. Only all natural, range-free chicken and sustainable seafood (seafood products that are prudently managed to provide greater supply and price stability while staving off depletion) are served.
At 6300 feet above sea level, Consetta’s is located in the picturesque Jemez River Canyon and is backdropped by majestic red mesas resultant from ancient lava flows more than a million years ago. From the restaurant’s outdoor deck, your immediate view is of green gardens nurtured by rainwater captured in a large cistern.
Beyond the gardens is a thirty-foot diameter Yurt (a circular tent of felt or skins on a collapsible framework). In the distance, the view is of stratified cliffs which display many layers of weathered sediment, alluvial and rock formations in craggy, multi-hued splendor.
Just as Jemez Springs is a geological wonder, Consetta’s is a culinary wonder, serving traditional Italian fare, pizza, sustainable seafood, organic vegetables, vegan, fresh baked bread, cold beer and local wines. The menu (which is printed on 100% tree-free paper) offers many sumptuous options while a slate board tempts you with daily specials.
For those who wish to enjoy their repast under the cottonwoods by the sometimes rushing, sometimes meandering Jemez River, specially prepared picnic baskets are available. Consetta’s is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday.
Shortly after you place your order, a small loaf of homemade bread is brought to your table along with virgin olive oil and cracked pepper. The bread is unsalted but has a nice texture and is served warm. It’s a good precursor to a memorable meal.
A popular appetizer consists of tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil served with olive oil and Balsamic reduction. Similar to the bread, this appetizer is unsalted, not that salt is necessary because each ingredient is fresh and delicious.
Eschewing the Italian offerings, an excellent entree when on the seasonal menu is the blackened tilapia with fried polenta and a spring salad drizzled with a garlic citrus aioli. Tilapia, a sweet-tasting lean fish with a white flesh, is believed to be the fish Jesus fed to the multitudes at the Sermon on the Mount.
Consetta’s preparation appears to be divinely inspired with contrasting tastes competing for the rapt attention of my taste buds. The blackening isn’t quite as incendiary as you might find on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, allowing for the tilapia’s subtle brininess to shine. It is one of the best fish dishes we’ve had in New Mexico.
Another excellent option is pizza which is prepared to your exacting specifications. Although the sausage and mozzarella are purchased from the vendor, Consetta’s chefs prepare the pizza sauce and dough from scratch. The dough is antithetical to what you’ll find in New England in that there’s nary a speck of black.
It’s not underdone, however. A bit thicker than thin crust, the dough is a wonderful canvas for unfailingly fresh ingredients. The green chile has a “just off the comal” freshness and aroma. The artichoke hearts are tender and fleshy. The sausage is flecked with delicious red pepper and fennel. The tomato sauce is rich and spicy. We have been thoroughly pleased with our pie.
The lunch menu is relatively sparse in comparison to the dinner menu, but while the number of selections may be few, they are delicious. Always available is the pizza which after two visits we consider to be among the very best in northern New Mexico.
The lunch menu includes a scintillating spinach salad constructed with baby spinach grown on the premises, sweet pears, walnuts, tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles tossed in a warm bacon dressing. It is a fabulous salad!
The lunch menu also includes to focaccia sandwiches including a chicken Florentine panini, a four-ounce free-range chicken breast with spinach and provolone served with black rum baked beans (as good as any baked beans), a pickle and a mixed green salad. The salad comes with your choice of house made salad dressings: blue cheese, Balsamic vinaigrette (vegan) and Caesar. Blue cheese is my choice though the other options are nearly as good.
The restaurant’s must-have dessert has a Mafioso ring to it, but the “Fixer” is incorruptible. It’s a decadent caramel chocolate brownie a la mode and it derives even more richness from whipped cream and chocolate ganache.
Two other wonderful dessert options are the restaurant’s signature apple raisin cobbler a la mode. Tangy apples, sweet raisins and cold ice cream are sure to please the most discerning of sweet teeth. The hot fudge sundae is made with dripping dark chocolate for a wonderful contrast to the sweet vanilla ice cream.
You’ll be thoroughly pleased with a meal at Consetta’s Green Restaurant, a true corporate citizen for a better world.
Consetta’s Green Restaurant
1351 Highway 4
Jemez Springs, NM
LATEST VISIT: 22 April 2007
# OF VISITS: 2
BEST BET: Blackened Tilapia, Pizza, The Fixer, Spinach With Warm Bacon Dressing, Chicken Florentine Sandwich