3 Brothers Vegan Cafe: Long Island’s First All Vegan Restaurant!

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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:

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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
http://www.3brothersvegancafe.com/

Welcome to NYC, by Chloe! Our Review of Chloe Coscarelli’s Restaurant

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Everything’s coming vegan in NYC! After a rough Spring of restaurant losses (Pukk, Lan Cafe, Tiengarden, etc), Summer is the season for foodie blossoms! An exciting addition to the mix is by CHLOE by none other than vegan chef/cookbook author and Cupcake Wars winner, Chloe Coscarelli!  

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Having just opened on July 28th, by CHLOE is already taking the city by storm. So, you know we had to go and try the eats and treats ourselves! There we were 2 days after the Grand Opening in one of the cutest places I’ve ever been. I have to say it really does seem to be a reflection of Chloe and who she is as a person and as chef: fun, lighthearted, sweet and exciting! From the bright, light and airy decor to illustrated details of the shop and its menu, this woman is onto something BIG!

Of course, like any hot spot in NYC, the place was packed. We placed your order at the counter, and waited until Carlo’s name was called. With a “farmhouse” style table in the middle and smaller cafe tables along the wall, plus outdoor seating, real estate was at a minimum. However, we managed to seat ourselves at the big table after placing our order. 

Here’s a rundown for what we tried:

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Pesto Meatball: Italian meatballs, marinara, sweet peppers, basil, cashew mozzarella, almond parmesean on a potato sub roll

The sub roll was PERFECT for this sandwich. The pesto and cheese were on point! Neither of us really tasted the marinara. Sadly, the meatballs were a little on the mushy side for us. Overall, it was a pretty solid sandwich.

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Whiskey BBQ: Smoky Portobello mushrooms & seitan, sauteed kale, onion marmalade, grilled pineapple, bourbon barbecue sauce on a potato bun

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The burger sleeve was too cute! Again, another great choice with the bread. Carm liked the “meaty” texture of the mushrooms and seitan. The grilled pineapple was a nice pick-me-up with its sweetness. What would have been taken it further was more that barbecue sauce with a little heat. It needed a push to get it into high gear.

NOTE: Carlo dislikes mushrooms. So, the combination with the seitan didn’t work for him.

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Air Baked French Fries with beet ketchup and chipotle aioli

The fries were good. Nice crunch with the air baking. However, what WOW’d us were the condiments. The beet ketchup needs to be sold by the bottle! It was EVERYTHING you could want in a pairing with fries. That aioli, which we thought was cheese sauce, was like no other chipotle aioli we ever tried! Thick yet smooth and creamy. Mix that with the ketchup, it’s a real winner!

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Mac N’ Cheese: Sweet potato, cheese sauce and shiitake bacon.

Winner! Winner! Vegan Dinner! O-M-G! O-M-G! So nice, we had to write it twice, right? 

Good thing this comes in 2 portion sizes. We went with the small on this outing. We probably should have gotten the large as there was a mini spoon fight! Instead, Carm ordered a second portion for home.

The comforts of fall made perfect for the summer! That sweet potato with the cheese sauce was pure velvet! The bacon gave a little crunch with smoke. It broke up the texture nicely. The dish wasn’t too heavy. Oh, if Chloe switches this up to PUMPKIN in the fall, we are so on it!

AND OF COURSE THERE WAS DESSERT!!!! How can you go to this place and not try the desserts?!?

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Chlostess Cupcake 

This may be the perfect chocolate cupcake. It looked and tasted like a Hostess cupcake from childhood. So nailed right, the vegan way. No omnivore will be able to tell the difference, nor should they!

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Cinnamon Espresso Cookie

Whoa! That’s one big ole cookie! It covered Carm’s hand!

We disagreed on this one. Carlo felt the espresso flavor was flat, like the cookie. All he tasted was cinnamon. Carm thought the espresso gave a nice finish at the end. It was not a pop, but it was there. 

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Old Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookie

Back to childhood again. Nice, soft cookie. Carm said it should have had a little more crisp to it, because that’s how she’d like them. 

Overall, we enjoyed our meal at by CHLOE. We’ll be there again…for sure! We already have our list ready, plus getting more of that Mac ‘n Cheese.

What do we have our eyes on for our next visit?

  • The Guac Burger
  • Spicy Thai Salad
  • Juices
  • Dairy Free Ice Cream
  • BRUNCH!

Whether you live in NYC or stopping by for a visit, put by CHLOE on your list of eateries to grub at!

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by CHLOE
185 Bleeker Street
New York, New York
www.bychefchloe.com

Do you own any of Chloe’s cookbooks? NO?!?! Click on the photos and get to shopping!

If Chloe is a part of your cookbook collection, which one is your fave? Share in the comments!

Getting Our Waffle on at Waffle Frolic in Ithaca, NY

Source: wafflefrolic.tumblr.com
Source: wafflefrolic.tumblr.com

How vegans found restaurants with vegan options before the advent of the internet is beyond  me. Praise Seitan that sites like HappyCow exist, for that’s how we found a wonderful eatery known as Waffle Frolic.

2014 marked the second year in a row that we went to the annual NY County Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary, an event we plan to go to every year, forever. Because dinner was not included for Friday arrivals, Mac & I took the 45 minute slog to cozy Ithaca to check out a place that that serves vegan waffles (a rarity even in NYC). Nestled in the middle of Ithaca Common, Waffle Frolic has been making locals and visitors happy for over four years. As you walk into this popular local haunt, the aroma of fresh waffles waft through its two floors and smacks you silly. After perusing the handwritten menu on the wall, Mac and I placed our order and plopped our tired behinds down. While waiting for our order, I checked out some of Waffle Frolic’s walls which are adorned with outsider art from a local artist.

Had I enough dough on hand, I probably would have purchased this one.
Had I enough dough on hand, I probably would have purchased this one.

When my name was announced I darted downstairs and eagerly picked up our grub. We ending up ordering the Double Waffle with ice cream and compote of the day, a Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Daiya vegan cheese, artichoke and red pepper and of course the “Waffle Dog!” The Double Waffle with ice cream and compote was enough to feed 4 people. The waffle was nice and crispy with a fluffy middle, the compote was pleasantly sweet and the ice cream proved the perfect topping. The Grilled Cheese was perfectly grilled (they use an imported panini press) to a golden perfection and the artichoke with red peppers melded a sweet contrast to the Daiya cheddar. And then there was the Waffle Dog. Yep. Oh yeah. Uh huh. I could eat one every day. I’ve never been a huge fan or corn dogs but this was bold. The crispy texture contrasted nicely with the soft and savory vegan dog. This wonder on a stick came with a maple mustard dipping sauce that made it all the better.

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As it’s my tradition when going on vacation to check out a local indie bookstore, I met a woman who our dining choice while at Autumn Leaves Used Books. She pointed out that Ithaca is an “epic city”, for a variety of reasons,  one being that there’s lots of restaurants with vegan options. When she asked me where I ate, I pointed out that I just dined at Waffle Frolic to which she enthusiastically said “you made a great choice!”

Waffle Frolic is just one more example of an omni establishment that recognizes our community and is willing to include wonderful vegan options.Next time we’e in Ithaca a stop at Waffle Frolic is guaranteed. And as I explore the rest of town, I’ll be sure to wear a vegan shirt so another random person gives me a tip. Maybe HappyCow isn’t necessary in Ithaca!

Me staring down a Waffle Dog.
Staring down a Waffle Dog.

To learn more about Waffle Frolic, make sure to check out the website at wafflefrolicking.com.

Table In A Bag. A Picnic Game Changer

Source: wantlist.com
Source: wantlist.com

As much as anybody, vegans love outdoor activities, especially picnics. We’re among the elite for dining al fresco and can throw down with the best of them. You need only go to your local vegan Meetup picnic to see the proof in the chia pudding! We bring grills, chairs, canopies, coolers, uninvited friends,  and sometimes our pets. Heck, our friend Walnut even brings his bicycle-powered mixer that runs a Vitamix!

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At the last Westchester Meetup at Ossining’s Louis Engel Waterfront Park, our friends Seitan and Legume pulled a curious collection of poles and slats out of a mesh pouch. Within two minutes, they suddenly put together a very cool, low wood table. When asked what magic they just performed, our friendly couple pointed out that they just assembled a wedding gift they received called “Table In A Bag.”

The Table In A Bag Manufacturing Corporation has been around since 1998 and has been gaining popularity every year. And why wouldn’t they? These attractive tables are portable, lightweight, VERY easy to assemble/disassemble, require no tools, are made with eco-friendly water-resistant materials and are sturdy (we put a lot of stuff on the table and a couple of toddlers crawled on it). This innovative company also sells aluminum tables as well as accessories such as tablecloths and special totes. The table that they brought measured about 15” X 27” X 16” and came in a “natural wood” color. They sell other sized models with different colors.

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Table In A Bag is perfect for picnics, sporting events, outdoor concerts, or to peddle your wares.  As a couple who live in an apartment with no backyard to speak of, this is the perfect  table to use when throwing a little party behind our building or on our rooftop (Fun Fact: Papa Choke calls rooftops “tar beaches.”) We were so impressed with its performance we ended up ordering one and used it at this past Farm Sanctuary NY Country Hoe Down (More details on that to come…).

To find out more about Table In A Bag, check out their website at tableinabag.com.