Addicted to healthy food

Anthony DeMasi

Photo by Deidre Pike

Anthony’s Dandelion Deli bills itself as the only place in town where vegans—people who eat no animal products at all—and carnivores can come together and eat. The deli’s famous for baked goods made without milk, butter or eggs. The cooks use all-natural ingredients, and except for the bread, everything on hand is homemade from the cookies to the soup. Anthony DeMasi took over the Dandelion Deli seven years ago. DeMasi, a native of New York, came to Reno in 1983 and stayed after he got a job decorating wedding cakes. The Dandelion Deli offers catering services, and you can rent the place for parties in the evenings. For more info or directions, call 322-6100.

You seem committed to healthy food.

I grew up in New York. When I came out here, I got into meditation—the integration of mind, body and soul. In my late teens and early 20s, I became conscious of the relationship between what I was eating and good health. That was also a trend, something people were looking for.

Do your customers appreciate that?

We have a big following, a large following of local people. Also, lots of people look us up on the Internet. We’re listed at When I travel, I hear people on the plane and they’re talking about this place. We’re so specialized.

Are you vegan?

No, I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I eat that way a lot. I do eat meat on occasion. I’m trying to head in [the vegetarian] direction because I make that food really good.

What keeps you from being a vegetarian?

I guess it’s being lazy. I go to friends’ houses, and they aren’t vegetarians. Also, I just like eating, period. I like a variety of stuff. But my body tells me when I’ve had too much meat. I stay away from red meat.

What’s your favorite culinary creation?

Anything Italian. People like our lasagna, our eggplant parmesan, our tofu pot pies. They like our wraps. We’re famous for our wraps—anything Oriental or curried. I’ve wrapped everything from Oriental to Indian to Greek to chicken to pizza. You name it, I’ve wrapped it. And quiche! For some reason, I make really good quiche. I used to just make it once in a while. But people ask for it. Now I always have to keep it on hand. And soups! They love our soups, homemade soups. They can tell when soup comes from a can or doesn’t.

What’s always in your refrigerator at home?

Salad stuff, almost always. And leftovers from the deli. I like so many things. I love my pasta.

Confess your worst food sin.

Wheat and dairy. I’m not supposed to eat wheat. I feel better when I don’t eat wheat; I don’t have any aches or pains anywhere. My new focus next year is going to be to create wheat-free, gluten-free things. And food for diabetics. No one’s doing that.

Food for diabetics sounds great.

I’ve tried some things and—yuck. One of these days I’m going to come up with something that has no wheat, no sugar, no dairy, no eggs, and it’s going to be incredible.