A jam-packed Island Bowl from Melonhead in Sea Bright. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
Ravenous after a recent walk on the beach, PieHole headed to downtown Sea Bright in search of the newest kid on the block: Melonhead, whose menu basis is the acai (pronounced ah-SAH-ee) berry, a super fruit native to the Amazon.
How did partners and Monmouth County natives Nick Frangipane and Steve Barnett come to be acai acolytes on Ocean Avenue? Theirs is a story that begins on a surfing trip in Costa Rica and continues through Brazil, Puerto Rico and other stops on the planet.
From left, Sloan O’Cone, Nick Frangipane, and Tasha Buckley work a pour station at Melonhead. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
The globetrotting pair “fell in love with the natural high they felt from eating fruits and vegetables picked straight from the lands of Costa Rica,” according to Melonhead’s website. “Acai in particular.”
This turned out to be a “product idea” they thought they might bring back home. But “there was still a bit of anxiety in understanding if this was really what people wanted,” the pair wrote. So on their continuing travels, they researched acai vendors, from California to Puerto Rico, cherrypicking “the best parts of each shop” and developing an idea of their own.
They opened Melonhead last month.
“I thought Sea Bright really needed a healthy, healthy addition,” Shrewsbury native Frangipane says. “I’ve been coming here since I’m a kid. It’s my hometown beach.”
Water-colored walls and rustic decor set a beachy feel to the place, which doubles as a gallery of sorts for Fair Haven photographer Kyle DeVesty and other local artists.
Putting to use her dietary degree from West Chester University, manager Tasha Buckley is happy to educate customers on the purported health benefits of acai, and her enthusiasm for the health benefits of a vegetarian life-style is a little contagious. “Acai bowls are in right now, and we can introduce people to gogi berries and other super foods,” she says.
“We want our employees to talk the talk and tell people what’s healthy,” Frangipane adds.
The ambrosial Island Bowl ($10) is surprisingly filling. A mixture of purple-hued frozen acai from Acai Exotic is swirled like soft-serve ice cream onto a bed of granola and then topped with more granola, fresh sliced strawberries, banana, pineapple, coconut and chia seeds.
Touted as full of omega fatty acids, protein, and magnesium, the seeds are supposed to improve brain function.
Melonhead’s menu also features juices and smoothies, including one called the Gorilla ($7.50) that combines banana, peanut butter, chocolate whey protein, cacao and almond milk.
Cold brew, hot brew and pour-over coffees are also available.
Melonhead, at 1146 Ocean Avenue, is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.