by Su-Jit Lin | The last day of September marked the first day of a new “California coastal”-style eatery on Islip’s Main Street. Long Island Beach Bowls Acai Café opened in the space that Sunset Restaurant Off the Beach formerly occupied.

Although the Sunset spinoff from his original venue at 600 South Bay Avenue at Islip Town Beach was successful, owner Sal Cataldo and his partner, Christine Kim, wanted to create a health-conscious option for the community.

“With our beach theme, it only makes sense to also look at providing healthy food that makes you feel good,” Cataldo said. “Everybody’s been leaning toward healthier food, and acai is incredibly good for you.”

The Brazilian superfood’s benefits have been touted by conscientious eaters worldwide, and for excellent reason.

Pronounced ah-sigh-EE, this grapelike fruit harvested from South American acai palm trees has been associated with improving a laundry list of conditions. The Mayo Clinic has reported effects on things like arthritis, high cholesterol and skin appearance, to supporting weight loss and even combating erectile dysfunction.

More specifically related to its classification as a superfood are its proven nutritional benefits. Loaded with more antioxidants than any other commonly eaten berry, scientists have found that its Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) values are as much as 10 times higher than that of red grapes.

These low-sugar fruits also offer iron, calcium, fiber, vitamin A and anthocyanin compounds that work with flavonoids to combat the effects of free radicals.

While these benefits are better retained when sourced from the powder, the juice used by Long Island Beach Bowls Acai Café also provides nutritional value.

The most important question, though, is “Does it taste good?”

The answer is a resounding “YES.”

A deep wild berry flavor with hint of chocolate makes it delicious, and Long Island Beach Bowls Acai Café enhances the natural flavor of the juice they use by blending it with bananas, strawberries and soymilk until it reaches a chilled pudding texture.

For their base bowl, the San Diego Bowl, the acai mixture is scooped between two layers of crunchy premium granola (gluten- or nut-free options are also available). It’s then topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, fresh-cut bananas and coconut flakes before being drizzled with honey.

The small starts at $4.95 while the regular is priced at $6.95; an extra-large is offered for $10.95. Specialty toppings and custom blends are encouraged and available for only a dollar extra each.

“Acai is a main staple of beaches in California, and this goes along very well with the beach theme of Sunset Restaurant as well,” Cataldo said.

This theme can be seen in the fully renovated interior and casual décor at 454 Main Street in Islip. Today, you’ll find comfortable patio loungers at the dining tables, woven bistro seating and straw tiki-hut accents in a bright, cheery space.

Open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, the indulgent-tasting acai bowls are available all day as a breakfast, dessert, or as a healthy low-calorie, low-fat meal replacement for lunch or dinner.

For those who might miss the heartier fare of Sunset Restaurant Off the Beach, never fear: not only will breakfast continue to be served all day, but the new establishment’s menu is supplemented by favorites like:

  • The blueberry pancakes Cataldo prides his restaurants on
  • Breakfast pizzas on Brooklyn-style house-made crust
  • A wide selection of wraps, burritos and paninis
  • Soups and salads

In keeping with the more health-conscious direction that has also added smoothies to the offerings, portions have been scaled down from their notoriously oversized counterparts at the original location.

“We’re so excited to offer something that is, at the same time, so delicious and also good for you,” Kim said as she artfully arranged a colorful San Diego Bowl.

“Acai bowls are starting to get popular,” added Cataldo, “and we’re thrilled to introduce them to our community.”

Try it, then sing its praises Sunday, Oct. 16 during the Main Street Islip Fall Festval, run by the Islip Fire Department. Long Island Beach Bowls Acai Café will be hosting karaoke during the event.