Bowled Over

Angelenos, always quick to jump on the latest trend, have become enamored with the acaí berry. Here are some stand-out bowls along the Boulevard.

A tropical bird with purple plumage isn’t what you’d expect to see on the ground floor of the Times Square Plaza strip mall in Studio City, but it does speak for a particular tenant. RioZonas Açaí (12215 Ventura Blvd.) is one of the Valley’s leading practitioners of acaí, a sweet, tart, purple frozen treat made from the berry of a South American palm tree. Açaí, pronounced ah-sigh-EE, is high in antioxidants, outperforming better-known berries like cranberries and blueberries. 

RioZonas Açaí owner Evaldo Ferreira is originally from Minas Gerais, Brazil, and he started sharing the flavors of his youth at RioZonas Açaí last year. The methodology at RioZonas is to blend tart açaí with banana and strawberries, filling bowls with toppings like blackberries, cacao nibs, shaved almonds and granola. No matter what you choose, they’ll recommend granola, though you can also tap into toppings lke chia, almond butter, flax, or fruits like kiwi and mango.

Daniela Demetrio was tired of “watered down” acaí, so she opened a shop with more concentrated flavor in Tarzana, naming Ubatuba Açaí (18641 Ventura Blvd.) for the Brazilian hometown she left in 1996, but frequently revisits. Daniela says, “It was a good way to build a bridge between the two countries that I love.” Six Ubatuba branches now span from Santa Monica to Northridge and San Luis Obispo. Ubatuba’s açaí is imported straight from Brazil and typically comes with banana, strawberry and granola. Boost your bowl with bee pollen, paçoquinha (peanut powder), passion fruit pulp or hemp seeds.

Aric Haut worked in sports and entertainment for years. Repeated forays to Brazil resulted in The Harvest Bar (15030 Ventura Blvd.), a “superfood café” in Sherman Oaks with exposed wood rafters and crossed- spoon logo. Five different açaí bases are “all natural, with no sugar added.” Basic Harvest combines organic açaí, strawberry, blueberry, banana and apple juice, resulting in smoother texture than most açaí, with less tartness or brightness. Their Super Protein combo complements açaí with peanut butter, banana, dates, hemp protein and hemp milk. Toppings like almonds, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs and goji berries are fair game, or you can create your own bowl by chosing a blend, proteins, powders and toppings. Aric promotes açaí not just for its antioxidants but for being “high in fiber and rich in heart-healthy fats.”