Joey Giannuzzi is running around in a whirlwind these few days before opening his newest venture, DIG, with partner Robert Greenfield. “It’s like being an air traffic controller,” the chef said. “We open in six days and it’s crazy here.”
DIG – it stands for “Doing It Green” – will be totally organic, from the food to the floors, he said. “We’re organic, not vegetarian, but there are a ton of options for vegans and vegetarians on the menu. And out of 40 dishes, I counted 27 gluten-free options.”
Giannuzzi is established in the organic restaurant world already with the Green Gourmet in west Delray at the Shops of Addison. It’s expanded to a cafe in the two years it’s been opened. For this venture, he has partnered with Robert Greenfield, owner of the former Greenfield’s on Atlantic. DIG takes over that restaurant; a move that happened when Greenfield saw what Giannuzzi was doing, and determined it was the direction new restaurants are headed.
“He wanted to be the first,” Giannuzzi said. “He came in one day and said, ‘This is what I want to do and you’re doing it. I want you.’ And that was pretty much how it came about.”
Giannuzzi is handling the menu and design, and will be executive chef of the 150-seat “clean, green cuisine” restaurant. His natural enthusiasm for this food style is on warp-speed as he talks about the details.
“We just finished putting in a full smoothie and juice bar. You can come in and get a totally organic adult smoothie.” Rain Vodka is the organic vodka used in the martinis that are designed by an in-house mixologist. “I sat in on one tasting, but couldn’t do any more than that. We were all wasted,” he said, laughing.
Herbal and organic fruit-based martinis will be on special at happy hour, along with some apps at the full bar. For kids and adults, the soda fountain is stocked with eight flavors of all-organic sodas. “The moms and kids show up in a crowd after school for smoothies and sodas – this is for them.”
Foods from Green Gourmet
On the menu, designed around a main plate with sides, Giannuzzi will borrow side dish recipes from the Green Gourmet, like mashed caramelized cauliflower and ratatouille and wild rice. “We’ll be using all natural wagyu beef – all grass fed, and processed here in Florida. It never leaves the state. We’ll have skirt steak, short ribs, fillet mignon – all wagyu and certified natural – no steroids, antibiotics – nothing like that in any of the food.”
Burgers are made from bison, grass-fed beef, turkey and a vegetable mix – all served on multi-grain hemp buns.
For vegetarians and vegans, “The list is endless,” he said. “For as long as I can remember, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are an afterthought at other restaurants. Because of the way our menu’s designed, it will be easy. These will be thought-out and creative dishes and will have plenty of taste.”
Several dishes have been especially created for the gluten-free and dairy-free diner. “I’ve figured out a way to make crab cakes dairy- and gluten-free – I’m using Veganaise as a binder. It’s oil processed at a low temperature and actually works much better than mayonnaise. There’s no crumb binder – we sear the cake at a high heat and it’s nothing but lump jumbo crab.”
Natural turkey meatloaf, organic Irish farm-raised salmon, free range roast chicken, beef and chicken satay are some of the items on the menu available for lunch or dinner.
A salad and soup bar will have labels for foods, giving the name and place of the grower for the ingredient. “We’ll be making hummus tableside. You’ll be able to add in roasted red pepper, or roasted garlic. It’s going to be served in a mocajete with pita and hemp chips.”
Desserts and breads, from an in-house pastry chef, will include dairy-free and gluten-free items as well as some raw desserts.
A green living space
The restaurant is built out with recycled plastics, sustainable woods, and glass. Wallpaper and table tops are made with bamboo and coconut threads; the fabrics in the booths will be made from recycled material.
The food waste from here, as they are at Green Gourmet, will be given to his produce farmer for composting. “The neat thing is that Farmer Jay (Cobb) who supplies some of my organic vegetables, is using the compost from Green Gourmet and now it’s coming full circle. He’s building eight raised-beds in an area that’s visible to the whole restaurant, and we’ll be growing vegetables on site.” Eggplants, tomatoes and strawberries will be among the first things planted, and local schoolkids will help with the garden, he said.
Giannuzzi said he’s extremely excited about the unique venture. “We’ll be green and clean throughout. And hey – you can even eat your centerpiece! We’ll have wheatgrass set around everywhere – you’re eating life!”
Prices will be moderate – with main plates ranging from $15 to $25, the price cap. DIG will be serving lunch and dinner daily; and a late-night menu offered Friday and Saturday. Daily specials are planned, and there’s a sunset menu with specials from 3 to 5 p.m.
- 5199 W. Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach
- 561-638-0500 (website to come)
- Open daily beginning June 17.
- Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.