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Joy Mangano’s Huntington restaurant Jema closes after less than two years

Owner Joy Mangano with chef Franco Sampogna at

Owner Joy Mangano with chef Franco Sampogna at the opening of Jema in Huntington on Sept. 7, 2016. Credit: Johnny Milano

Jema, the lauded Huntington restaurant owned by Miracle Mop mogul Joy Mangano, has closed less than two years after its ballyhooed opening.

In a statement, Mangano said she had decided to close the restaurant and that she and chef Franco Sampogna “are looking at new concepts for the future.” She noted that customers with gift cards will be refunded. (Email reservations@jemarestaurant.com.)

Jema opened in Sept. 2016 to widespread acclaim. It received 31⁄2 stars in Newsday, was named the top fine dining restaurant of 2016. It has appeared on Newsday’s Top 100 list for the last two years.

The elegant, three-level restaurant has been closed since late December, after it suffered some structural damage during a winter storm. It announced on its Facebook page, and confirmed to Newsday, that it planned to reopen.

But last week, employees were informed that the restaurant would shutter. Customers with reservations were called and told the restaurant was closing for good. The building at 7 Gerard St. has been listed for sale for $3,200,000 by Kensington Company.

Jema, which replaced Mangano’s previous restaurant, Porto Vivo, evinced a rarefied level of dining almost unheard of on Long Island — from the resin-handled steak knives (handcrafted in the Basque country) to the bread baskets made of thick, heathered felt. Yet the soaring space managed to be sleek without being stark.

Before he met Mangano on a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean, the Brazilian-born Sampogna had worked at two three-star Michelin restaurants in Paris: Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse in the Hôtel Plaza Athénée. He was 25 when Jema opened.

But for all its brilliance, Jema conveyed an air of inflexibility that rubbed some Long Islanders the wrong way. Sampogna’s dedication to local, seasonal food meant that you might not be able to order a salad in January. Menu substitutions (a sport that Long Islanders play at an Olympic level) were not encouraged. A wine served in the dining room might not be available to drink in the bar.

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