DIG in Delray Beach isn't just "doing it green," like its name symbolizes. With a truly forward-thinking concept, owners Chef Joey Giannuzzi and Robert Greenfield are doing much more than simply serving up organic eats.
Unlike most establishments that offer all-natural, farm to table fare, DIG goes one step further to make the circle of sustainability complete. By working with local organic farmers to recycle all the restaurant's organic waste, and creating a 100 percent environmentally-friendly building, DIG is doing what very few restaurants could even dare to dream.
"We're not just farm to table. We're table to farm. And we like to think of ourselves as the trailblazers for this sort of thing," said Greenfield during a recent interview.
Now that DIG is open for business, read on for a picture tour of some of the cleanest, greenest food around, and get healthy-eating tips from Chef Giannuzzi:
But Kermit isn't the only one who says it's not easy being "green." In many ways, this innovative restaurant concept is finding it difficult, too. With organic produce suppliers in short demand, limited delivery schedules for necessary products like flour and milk, and daily orders going out to local organic farms, it can feel like a daily air-traffic control center in the back of house, said Giannuzzi.
Even Coca-Cola is making things hard, demanding Giannuzzi return his soda gun equipment now that he no longer serves Coke products, opting instead to go with a 100 percent organic soda syrup supplier.
"I'll have to buy my own equipment, and service it myself, but that's just one of many things that make doing things this way difficult," said Giannuzzi. Still, it's making the difference that counts, he added.
"My goal is to see more restaurants using clean food and environmentally friendly practices, to help distributors -- and the people that provide these services -- get enough business to make [green] the way things are done," said Giannuzzi.
"We're going full circle here. We're not just farm to table. We're table to farm." -- DIG partner and owner, Robert Greenfield
Currently, DIG is the only restaurant in Florida to offer Oogave brand 100% natural, organic sodas from a soda gun. That means you can get a totally organic rum and coke, said Giannuzzi, since the restaurant offers a variety of organic liquors, as well. Try this fresh-herb martini, made with organic Rain vodka.
Gluten-free and organic beers, as well as organic wines, are also available at the bar. There is a weekly happy hour featuring half-priced appetizers and drink specials Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The restaurant also has a full-service juicing and smoothie bar with a menu full of fun, healthy ideas. You can also make your own concoction to go along with any meal, be it breakfast, lunch, dinner -- or dessert. Or, make it an "adult smoothie" and add a little alcohol for a 100% organic, all-natural drink.
The organic soup and salad bar features over 20 vegan, gluten-free or all-natural toppings, and the mixed greens are sourced from a local organic farm in Boca Raton ($13, or add to any meal for $7).
Everything from the paint on the walls, to the tables, chairs and banquets, are environmentally friendly. You'll eat from natural bamboo and recycled plastic table-tops, and sit on recycled fabrics and materials. Even your plate -- what will most certainly be a mismatched piece donated to DIG from friends and patrons -- is recycled (in a hand-me-down sort of way).
The restaurant's small model farm is a reminder of the integral relationship between DIG and local farmer Jay McCobb, owner of Pure Organics in Boca Raton. They work together to complete the restaurant's "full circle" concept, as McCobb takes DIG's organic waste to create compost that generates organic soil to support his farm.
DIG looks for meats and fish that come from what Giannuzzi calls "never, ever" farms. That means fish are wild-caught or properly farmed, cows are grass-fed from birth, and meats are all-natural. DIG's ultimate goal is to limit his use of wild-caught fish and use all farm-raised fish from clean-practicing fisheries, such as the organic Loch Duarte Salmon he serves with golden raisins, toasted almond cous cous, and roasted carrots with a pomegranate glaze ($22).
Organic caprese salad are tomato and mozzarella skewers with a drizzling of basil pesto and served with house made focaccia bread ($13 with chicken).
"I want to make sure kids growing up today can do what I do, and enjoy the Earth and the oceans the same way I was able to. There's a way to be clean, healthy and responsible today. There's no excuse not to be anymore."
-- Chef Joey Giannuzzi
Four ways to clean up your cooking from Chef Joey Giannuzzi:
4. When brining, replace salt with Bragg's liquid aminos. It will do just as good a job, and cut salt content. You can do so with pork and chicken. Try this cooking method with DIG's Eden Farm Center Cut Pork Chop (served with gourmet yams, vegetable medley and Bragg's Apple Cider Glaze, $22).
3. Substitute Earth Balance (expeller-pressed oils) anywhere you use butter for a vegan alternative. Giannuzzi uses it to make dairy-free mashed potatoes and breads at DIG.
2. Use hemp flour as part of a gluten-free diet. It's high in protein, and provides a low-glycemic alternative to ordinary wheat flour.
1. Switch out sugar for stevia-based sweeteners such as Truvia for a healthier, more natural (and diabetic-friendly) alternative. It will cut calories (most are near calorie free naturally) and won't cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Giannuzzi uses it in place of sugar in all his baked goods and desserts.