The Showcase Magazine - Salutes


By Erik Slagle


If you want to experience “acai done right,” your best option used to involve air fare to California. But now Dan Bongiorno has brought acai’s enticing flavor and all its health benefits closer to home – a lot closer. It’s time to experience a true acai café, courtesy of Bonji Bowls – where Dan is putting into practice what acai aficionados preach in the Golden State.

“This is an idea that’s been coming together for years,” Dan says. “My parents Lou and Trish, and my brother, sister and I envisioned a café with a menu built around this incredible fruit, the acai. We visited California, saw how the best ones operated, and brought that back to New Jersey.”

The first Bonji Bowls opened to rave reviews at 977 Valley Road in Gillette in March, and a Summit location is coming soon at 412 Springfield Avenue. Later, Dan plans a third location in Maplewood. All three locations will offer a range of all-natural, health-focused selections including banana bowls, juices and smoothies in a fast-casual atmosphere designed to give customers a place to come in and relax.

Bonji Bowls features seating for up to 40 people, a wall of live plants to keep the air oxygenated, and a great selection of tunes in the background – the restaurants even feature a customized Spotify playlist to complete the experience.

Dan, who is pursuing a degree in Agribusiness Management from Penn State, has become something of an expert on acai – which features prominently on Bonji Bowls’ menus. “It’s a delicate fruit, still somewhat new to the U.S. but becoming more well-known as a flavor,” he says of the Brazilian superfruit. “It offers four times the antioxidant power of blueberries, and it has proven benefits for your arteries and heart.”

The restaurants also feature pure homemade granola (which isn’t baked in any oils), all-natural sweeteners in all its menu items, pure cacao for added heart benefits, and selections with a base of the Pitaya from Central and South America. The potent “dragon fruit,” as it’s also known, offers as much as 30% of your daily Magnesium and helps alleviate stress.

Not that you’ll be feeling much stress when you stop in a Bonji Bowls and see what it’s all about. You’ll be tempted to sit down with a fresh bowl and a delectable smoothie and chill out with the rest of the guests. And that’s just how Dan and his family planned it.

“We’ve always enjoyed the atmosphere of restaurants,” he says. “We love bringing people together, and Bonji Bowls is going to feel like an authentic, family-owned dining spot – not a franchise. We know that happiness is healthy, and that’s what we want our customers to take with them when they leave: a happy, healthy vibe that they can carry through the rest of their day.”

See for yourself how truly healthy eating can feel and taste. Come celebrate the opening of Bonji Bowls in Gillette and get ready to welcome them to Summit and Maplewood! Visit bonjibowls.com to learn more.