RED BANK: JJ’S ORGANIC, FUN AND FAMILIAR

Chalkboards list menu options at JJ’s Organic Grill ordering station. Below: waffle sticks. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

The Dugo family is betting that certified organic, non-GMO is the future of fast food, and so far, so good: their month-old Red Bank restaurant, JJ’s Organic Grill, is already becoming a popular choice for foodies.

Healthier alternatives for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed, no frills environment is what you’ll find here in the former Sicilia space, at the corner of Broad Street and Peters Place.

Above, gluten-free chicken nuggets with mac-and-cheese and salad. Orders are brought to your table in the dining area, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

The motivation to open a place like this was a wake-up call in the form of a medical emergency for Jack Dugo, a Colts Neck chiropractor who owns the business with son Rob, son-in-law Jack Santos and chef Josh Agnello.

After surgery left him with two stents, “this organic thing changed my life,” he said recently. Now an apostle of healthy eating, he says the JJ’s team “really did this to revolutionize fast food.”

Customers order at the counter and grab a seat at a table or the long window counter in the dining room — or, in nice weather, out on the patio. Orders are brought to you when ready.

Items you’d expect to see on a good-for-you menu, such as mixed veggie and fruit juices at $7 a pop are interesting. For example, there’s an ‘Immune Boost,’ containing beet, carrot, ginger, orange and lemon juices, and a ‘Beauty Juice,’ which is a concoction of strawberry, apple, cucumber, lemon, parsley and mint.

Salads are healthy, as expected, but bacon burgers, hot dogs, and Mexican snacks such as tacos, quesadilla’s, and nachos? All of the ingredients that go into the recipes for these dishes are free of pesticides and chemicals.

The menu includes gluten-free options such as chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and macaroni salad. Alyssa Dugo tells us that they keep one fryer separate for potatoes and gluten-free items, so the french fries are also gluten-free.

Tractor  Soda, an organic-crafted beverage made with cane sugar, is worth a try. Due to the absence of food coloring, all flavors are clear. The Meyer lemonade one is sweet and tart, but the coconut soda is a unique fizzy sweet treat that we’d order again in a heartbeat.

Gelato and ice cream treats such as waffle sundaes and ice cream floats round out the fun side of the menu. And if you see someone on the street, biting into a triangular waffle on a stick, as we did, just know that it came from JJ’s.

JJ’s Organic Grill is currently open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Extended hours are planned when school resumes. Delivery and catering services are available.

SUSAN-ERICSON

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