WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SMOOTHIE IN A BOWL

020316freshica4The Acai PB&J bowl from Freshica’s Juice Bar, owned by Jessica Dalmedo, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020316freshica3It might seem counter-intuitive to put a juice bar in the same building as a luncheonette known for its porkroll, egg, and cheese sandwiches, but Jessica Dalmedo, owner of Freshica’s Juice Bar says it works.

Sharing space with Fairwinds Deli on River Road in Fair Haven for almost four years, Freshica’s counter takes up a portion of the dining area. At lunchtime, you’re likely to see a construction worker downing a sub as you are a gray-flannel suit or someone coming from the gym. Less expected: the number of children from the preschool next door taking sippy-cup-sized swigs of kale- and spinach-infused juices.
020316freshica1Lee Ann Caporicci holds a Lean and Green. Below, a typical lunchtime crowd in the dining area shared by Freshica’s and Fairwinds Deli. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

020316freshica5The juice bar is busy with customers texting and calling in orders, including Christine Cofone, who ran in to pick up her Lean and Green juice. “I come here every day,” she tells PieHole, “It balances out my other bad food choices.”

Is a juice a healthy substitute for the more traditional soup, salad or sandwich for lunch? Behind the counter, Lee Ann Caporicci tells us it is, as she feeds big chunks of carrot into an enormous juicer.

“We make shakes with about 20 grams of  protein and some almond butter for a little fat,” she says. “That makes them filling.”

In addition to the almond butter, the pretty, emerald-hued Lean and Green is made with almond milk, banana, whey,  a protein powder, cardamom, and spinach.

A lovely, well-thought out balance of flavors, it was refreshing and filling. A large, 24-ounce cup will set you back $9.50.

Customers can rely that any single menu item “will always be the same,” says Dalmedo. “We have specific recipes to follow so there is consistency.”

“You have to taste the PB&J Acai bowl,” says Caporicci. “It’s one of our best sellers.”

Acai, a deep-purple colored berry, comes from a palm tree, and is said to have antioxidant qualities. She corrects us on our pronounciation: “ah-sigh-ee,” she says.

Priced at $9.95, the dish is a big bowlful of acai complimented with sliced banana, granola and peanut butter. Missing the creaminess of yogurt or gelato, it nonetheless has a similar cold, slushy consistency, and a flavor that is neither very sweet nor tart.

How does Freshica’s fare at Fairwinds? “There are definitely people who aren’t coming over” from the deli side of the room, Dalmedo tells us. But there are also “those who get a sandwich and then grab a smoothie. We compliment each other.”

Business must be pretty good as Freshica’s is opening a second location this spring in Red Bank. Stayed tuned to redbankgreen’s Retail Churn for more details.

For fast pick-up, you can call or text Freshica’s at 732-788-9980. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with shorter hours on the weekend.

SUSAN-ERICSON

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