Chops Steakhouse is open in Patchogue.

Chops Steakhouse is open in Patchogue. Credit: Iconic Productions

As people emerge from years of on-again, off-again hibernation, what’s the first thing they’re digging their forks into?

Restaurateurs have had two years to ponder this question. John Sarno, who ran four Suffolk County restaurants through the bumps of the pandemic, is betting on porterhouse for two and maybe a Sazerac, or glasses of Napa cab, to wash it down. In Feb., he and partner Fred Norden opened Chops Steakhouse on Patchogue’s Main Street. Taking a cue from the end of Prohibition, the partners merged the retro, bootleg-era vibes of a speakeasy with the bold strokes of a temple to steak; down to glazed, thick-cut bacon as a starter and a lineup of rare bourbon.

The 64-seat Chops takes up residence in the narrow, high-ceilinged space that most recently held Flo’s Luncheonette. Rich tones have replaced the beachy vibes: Blood-red curtains veil the front door, and the dining room and bar are a grotto of wood, brick, and burgundy leather and wallpaper; a vintage chandelier sparkling in its midst.

"We hit antique stores all over Long Island," said Sarno of he and his wife, Shannon Sarno, who was in charge of ambience. An antique fan, old radio and other ephemera line the wooden walls behind the bar.

Sarno culled talent from his other businesses, putting executive chefs Edwin Hernandez and Luis Juarez at the helm of a menu that, as the name suggests, doubles down on steak. Strip steak, rib-eye, porterhouse and other cuts are procured from Main Street Wholesale Meats in Farmingdale, where they’re dry-aged for 21 days. Prices begin at $60 for a dry-aged filet mignon and top out at $136 for porterhouse for two, with an American wagyu rib-eye, a starter of baby lamb chops and veal chop Milanese among the other plates.

Peter Luger regulars might feel surges of familiarity around that glazed, thick-cut bacon or tomatoes and onions, both starters. Among the other apps ($13 to $23) are steak tartare, crab cakes, oysters Rockefeller and wedge salads as well as chilled seafood — shrimp cocktail, crabmeat, and oysters — sold a la carte or atop a seafood tower whose price changes with the market. Lobster tails, sole meunière and diver scallops with risotto are among the larger seafood plates, which start at $34; and desserts, such as cheesecake and apple cobbler, are made in house.

Beverage consultant Michael Krohn pieced together a drinks lineup heavy on big-bodied American cabernets, classic and local beers, and a high-end whiskey and bourbon collection populated by the likes of Michter’s, Pappy Van Winkle and Wellers; some are poured in premium flights. In a close-the-loop moment, some of Chops’ taps are hooked to draft cocktails batched by Connor Vigliotta, former owner of Flo’s (and current owner of the Blue Point Flo’s) and include a bespoke Hendrick’s gin cocktail with pear, rosemary, elderflower and lemon bitters.

General manager John Paul Gunderson said weekday lunch will be added within the month — think a burger, steak sandwiches and other more casual plates — and a happy hour will debut soon.

Just as during Prohibition, a red light above Chops’ front door signals passerby that the place is open — if it’s on, the dining room is open. Yet patrons should give themselves the once over before they do: A business casual dress code is in place, said Sarno, much as you’d expect at the top tier of steakhouses here and in the city. He’s confident people will make the effort to dress up to go out in Patchogue, even in a moment where athleisure has bled from the home office to public spaces.

"Good times or bad, people find a way to make it out and celebrate milestones," he said. "With everything we’ve gone through in the last two years, a lot of people put their lives on hold. Like everything else, it’s a cycle."

For now, Chops opens for dinner at 4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday to Sunday, and for lunch and dinner on the weekend.

Chops Steakhouse is at 38 W. Main St. In Patchogue; 1-844-382-4677, chopspatchogue.com

Top Stories