Vegan chef Jay Astafa may only be 23 years old, but he’s taking the vegan world by storm! What he’s doing with traditional Italian and Mediterranean cuisine is nothing short of fantastic. From the vegan menu at his family’s 3 Brothers Pizza in Farmingdale, New York to his creative culinary pop-ups throughout NYC, how lucky is Long Island to have him open up their area’s first all-vegan restaurant, 3 Brothers Vegan Cafe!
Being fans of Jay’s food, especially his cashew milk (Bufala-style) mozzarella (see video with recipe), we made the trek to Copiague, New York after a long working Saturday in New Jersey for Grand Opening weekend!
Open for take-out and dine-in service, the restaurant has a traditional pizzeria look when you enter. There’s a great dessert case featuring cakes by pastry chefs Dani McGrath and Nicole King. When you cross the threshold to dine, it’s a really rustic, Mediterranean style with bench seating along the wall, tables in the center and a few high-tops with tools. The difference seem to fit and make sense. It’s certainly bigger than Jay’s family’s Farmingdale location.
Being that our visit was on the official second day, we were so happy to see how packed the restaurant was! While there were some things in the service that could be tweaked, everyone seemed to be handling it well with Jay coming out to assist when needed. Overall, the staff was pleasant, but could use a bit more familiarity with the menu, details of dishes and a quicker pace. However, we know that improvements will come over time.
Now, onto the food! Here’s what we had at the restaurant:
Arancini (Rice Balls): Italian rice balls served with tomato sauce
3 balls of rice and cheese, rolled in breadcrumbs, fried and served with tomato sauce. While they were good, we felt this was the weakest dish of our meal. The balls were small, but it was an appetizer. Considering the size, we felt they were better suited as passed hors d’oeuvres. We also thought there would be more than rice and cheese in them. We love stuffed arancini with peas and/or seitan grounds. It also needed a bit more salt, and could have used more sauce served with them.
Spanakopita: Phyllo pastry with spinach, dill, homemade feta, and lemon. served with tzatziki sauce.
Delicious! Served as three triangles, the spanakopita was light and not oily. The tzatziki sauce paired very nicely and added a brightness to this dish. The only knock was that the triangles were small, considering a plate of them is $10.00. However, we were very happy with it, and would get it again.
Manicotti: Cashew-tofu ricotta filled manicotti shells, topped with fresh cashew milk mozzarella and tomato sauce
Neither of us had stuffed pasta in a while. Seeing there was manicotti on the pasta menu, we had to order it. Jay did not disappoint with this one! The ricotta was full of flavor and held in the pasta quite nicely. The cook of the pasta was perfect and the bake with the mozzarella was lovely. The sauce was delicious. Everything tied together well in a very cohesive course.
Cauliflower Steak: Roasted cauliflower, cauliflower mash, kale, salsa verde
Wow! We tried to make our own cauliflower steaks, but they never came out like this! If we can be so bold, we would say that this entree is “meaty.” Not so much in texture, but definitely in flavor. The salsa verde was smart as it evened out the smoky char on the cauliflower. Then, you had the cauliflower mash that was so close to a smooth mashed potato that you had to do a double-take: very rich and creamy. The kale broke up the texture really well, as it had a bit of bite.
Cookie Monster Cake: 2 layers chocolate cake, middle layer soft baked chocolate chip cookie with cookies and cream frosting
Mini-fork fight at the table over this one! There is a Cookies & Cream cake on the menu, but the Cookie Monster was on a whole other level. Rich, decadent and totally makes you happy to be guilty, this cake was a cookie lover’s dream. The cake layers were moist. While the center was more cookie dough than baked cookie, there were NO complaints! Cookie center was AMAZEBALLS! The frosting was delicious, like cookies & cream ice cream (a fave in our home).
Oh yeah! You know we had to take some food to go! Here’s the rundown:
Calzones: One with cheese (left); the other with cheese and seitan sausage (right)
Jay’s pizzas and baked calzones are made to order. With 5 different types of cheese and an array of topping choices, On this outing, we went with 2 calzones to go. Cashew ricotta and mozzarella were delicious, but a bit heavy. The dough was somewhat crispy. The seitan sausage added some great flavor to the one calzone. Of course, having the marinara for dipping sauce was really good.
Eggplant Rollatini (Appetizer Portion): Breaded eggplant rolled with tofu-cashew ricotta. topped with fresh cashew milk mozzarella and tomato sauce
Want to convince an omnivore to go vegan? Give them some of Jay’s Eggplant Rollatini! This dish has been a fave of ours from the Farmingdale location. We expected it would be as delicious in Copiague. Our expectations were met, even the next day, with a side of pasta.
Note: The pasta does not come with the dish. We made some at home to have with it!
BBQ Jackfruit Panini: BBQ jackfruit, cashew milk cheddar, purple cabbage slaw
BBQ jackfruit is Carm’s “jam.” If it’s on a menu, it has to be ordered! Guess what we got?
Jay’s BBQ jackfruit is a panini. While there wasn’t a major cheese factor, the sandwich was tasty. There was a nice crunch with the slaw. The bread soaked up the flavors without getting soggy. There was a good cook on the jackfruit, but could have upped the BBQ sauce here. In fact, this would have been great with a sweet barbecue dipping sauce.
Rainbow Cookie Cake:
MY OH MY!! Talk about saving the best for last!
In many Italian cookie platters, the rainbow cookies are often the first to go. Maybe it’s the colors. Maybe it’s the yummy dark chocolate. Having grown up with them, all we can say is that rainbow cookies are a treat. Vegan ones? Even better! In a cake? We could only sum it up, like we did in this Instagram post:
“O-M-G!!! This cake brings #happiness by being on the menu! Then to taste it the next day at home was like WHOA! If you ever make just the cookies, we’ll take 1000 pounds!”
While the trip to Copiague to our home in the Bronx is about an hour (without traffic), we plan on making the trip again soon! This food is too good to pass up, and it worth the ride. Time to nudge Carlo’s cousins to get some food for Jay from this year’s Thanksgiving feast!
Congrats Jay and team!!! Congrats Long Island!!!
3 Brothers Vegan Cafe
1038 Montauk Highway
Copiague, New York