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Shop Talk: American Cheese in Sayville, N.Y.

American Cheese in Sayville, New York

Despite misconceptions among some first-time customers, American Cheese doesn’t sell shrink-wrapped slices. Instead, find US-made artisan cheeses—the bulk of which are local to New York state—plus wine, beer, accompaniments, and other specialty foods. Owner and monger Erin Nicosia sees American Cheese as three destinations in one: a retail shop, bar, and restaurant, the latter of which serves lunch and seasonal, tapas-style dinners, including popular stuffed mac and cheese.

While Nicosia didn’t get a taste of artisan cheese until adulthood, it was love at first bite. “I was like, ‘Holy cow I’m in love with this. I want this every day,’” she says. The first shop of its kind in the area, American Cheese aims to help others experience and appreciate cheese as she did, whether through a wedge sold at the counter or a curd-centric dish from the kitchen. “That’s really all you need,” Nicosia says. “Really good food and beverage. That’s what we do.”

culture: What local cheeses do you recommend?
Erin Nicosia: Catapano Dairy Farm makes a bunch of killer goat cheeses—they’re awesome. Mecox Bay Dairy makes one of the best Gruyère-styles I’ve ever had, called Sigit.

culture: Favorite dish on the shop’s menu?
EN: Our stuffed mac and cheese is pretty sick. I stuff cheddar, Gruyère, and Swiss—local, usually—in shells. We add a bit of fresh ricotta, then cover it in fondue sauce and top it with breadcrumbs.

culture: What has been the strangest customer request?
“Can I get the grilled cheese without the cheese?” That was epic.

culture: When was the moment you fell in love with cheese?
EN: I was at The Cheese Shop in Carmel, Calif. (I went to graduate school in the area). The woman behind a counter handed me a menu and said, “Where in the world would you like to go to today?” I was blown away.

American Cheese
289 Railroad Ave.
Sayville, NY 11782

Sun., Tue.-Wed. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Thu.-Fri. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Sat. 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Sarah Cummings

Sarah Cummings is a native New Yorker braving the Boston winters to study Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. In her spare time, she can often be found rock climbing, cuddling the neighborhood cats, or integrating goat cheese into her every meal.