Chef Jay Tepper was born and raised in Bayport.
His cooking journey took him across the U.S. over nearly 20 years.
He went from Johnson & Wales in Providence, R.I., to South Beach in Miami, to Los Angeles, to Las Vegas.
Then, Tepper landed right back on the South Shore and eventually Sayville.
Now he’s just opened The Artisan in Patchogue with local contractors David and Jacob Zwaik of DJT Group.
This is the brick-and-mortar culmination of all his American culinary experience.
“The concept here is sort of West Coast meets East Coast,” Tepper told us while hustling orders in the fully renovated space where River Avenue Deli last stood in Patchogue.
“This isn’t your typical New York-style deli. We’re more of a higher end, gourmet sandwich shop,” he added.
All the the meats are smoked and roasted in-house, for one.
Then there are the menu items from the sandwich and panini boards, with influences from across the U.S. We’ll get more into that later.
Chef Tepper is already a familiar face around Patchogue and beyond, having launched his Rollin’ Ghost food truck (first named Farm to Truck) in 2017. Earlier this year, he unveiled the Rollin’ Birdies golf-themed truck.
“This is my first brick-and-mortar location,” he said. “It still hasn’t hit me yet, but it will. I’m a truck guy. It’s been my dream to open up my own shop and trucks.”
Operating food trucks and a sandwich shop that closes at 6 p.m. daily also helps him spend time with family.
“Spending time is really hard to do with a more traditional restaurant,” he said.
How it came to be
Tepper says the trucks have been doing so well, especially with catering, that he needed a home base for more time and space for prep work.
How he landed on the River Avenue spot was just serendipitous.
Last year, the property owner absolutely loved a burger he ordered off the Rollin’ Ghost truck and suggested Tepper bring his talents across to the deli space, which was vacated during the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
Tepper jumped at the chance with the help of his childhood friends at DJT Group.
The partners got the keys in January, and after extensive work on the building, which included pouring a new foundation, they opened just around six months later on July 8.
Tepper tested the water with friends and family the day before.
“Everyone loved the food,” he said.
From the menu
Speaking of the food, Tepper pointed Greater Long Island to a few menu items he’s especially excited about.
Staying true to that West Coast influence, The Artisan has a Bánh Mì on the menu.
This is a Vietnamese dish “that is all over California,” he said. The Artisan’s includes pork belly, mayo, pickled carrots and radish, English cucumber, fresh jalapeños and cilantro on a crispy baguette.
My Jewish Father is in honor of his dad’s favorite sandwich of all-time.
That’s house-smoked corned beef, pastrami, Swish cheese, coleslaw and spiced mustard on toasted marble Rye. (Yes, we know that’s not Kosher but it’s his dad’s personal decision.)
The last sandwich he highlighted was The Bonanno (his version of The Godfather), named after Tap Room co-founder and childhood friend from Bayport-Blue Point, James Bonnano.
Here you’re looking at prosciutto di parma, mortadella, soppressata, sweet peppers, fresh mozzarella, chopped giardiniera, balsamic reduction, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil on semolina.
“This is all imported meats and cheeses,” Tepper said.
Scroll down for the full menu and foodie photos.
If you go
The Artisan, which carries the tagline “the ART is in the sandwich,” is located at 140 River Avenue, just south and west of the LIRR tracks near Division Street. The phone number is 631-901-3066. Tepper suggests calling ahead if you’re rushing. The hours are currently 7 a.m to 4 p.m., seven days a week.
Top: Jay Tepper, 44, of Sayville, outside his new Artisan eatery in Patchogue.