A favorite food truck finds a home
Jay’s Artisan Pizzeria brings an elevated pizza experience to WNY eaters
Photos by Eric Frick
Jay’s Artisan Pizzeria
2872 Delaware Avenue, Kenmore
Eating at Jay’s Artisan Pizzeria is a little bit like trying real maple syrup for the first time after a lifetime of Aunt Jemima’s. What owner Jay Langfelder serves from his Kenmore restaurant is technically pizza, but it’s not the thick crusted, sweetly sauced, spicy-cup pepperoni iteration found throughout Buffalo.
Jay’s is a wood-fired “Neapolitan-influenced” pizza—more on that later—and, if you haven’t eaten here yet, you need to. I started hearing the buzz as soon as Jay’s opened in fall 2017 in the former Chrusciki Bakery & Cafe in the Village of Kenmore. Langfelder made wood-fired pizza out of his food truck for more than two years before deciding to open a brick and mortar restaurant, a move that would afford him more freedom.
A friend and I decided to check out his newest endeavor to see for ourselves if the hype was warranted. (Spoiler alert: it is.) We walk into Jay’s on a recent Thursday evening. The restaurant is situated in a strip along Delaware Avenue now studded with stellar dining options, most notably La Divina Mexican Store, where some of the area’s best tacos are found.
The interior is small but comfortable, with a number of tables for two and a few four tops. Relaxing acoustic music plays as we take in our surroundings, painted in greens and yellows. Although the place emits a casual vibe, refined touches emerge: a candle on each table and, when the pizza’s served, a glass bottle of water to enjoy. A counter with high stools lines the windows, where patrons can enjoy their pizza while looking out over Delaware Avenue.
A small bar, where local and imported beers and red and white wines are served, faces the kitchen. In it, Langfelder fluidly tops pizzas and works dough, all while chatting up customers at the bar. He appears at ease, genuinely enjoying his craft. At Jay’s, customers order at the counter, find a seat, and wait for their pie. We check out the menu above us listing the nine varieties of pizzas available–all in the traditional twelve-inch Neapolitan size.
It is difficult to choose, but we narrow down to three: Amanda, Margherita, and Pancetta. We settle in at a table, and a server brings us the drinks we ordered. A couple of minutes later, the first pizza—the Margherita ($13)—arrives. (Traditional Neapolitan pies are cooked in less than a minute, the blazing heat of the fire crisping the pies quickly, and these are cooked at that same speed.)
The Margherita is the simplest of the three. It comes topped with tomato sauce, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella. It is the classic pie. The dough is silky in texture, slippery thin, and the crust pillowy with charred patches from the intense heat. A bright, fruity sauce punctuates the silkiness of the crust. The basil tastes like summer.
Shortly after digging into the Margherita, the other two pizzas arrive. The Pancetta ($15) features fresh mozzarella, pancetta, red onion, rosemary, and chili honey. The Amanda ($14.5) features fontina, fresh mozzarella, Gorgonzola, pecorino, crushed red pepper and chili honey.
It’s 6:15 p.m., and a line has formed at the counter. Some people pick their pies up to go, but many choose to eat in. A couple walks in with their young daughter, who totes a scooter behind her. A group of friends sidle up to the window seats; not long after, Langfelder brings them a few of his creations. This little establishment is as much a neighborhood spot as it is a destination.
The Amanda and Pancetta are similar, but of the two, the Amanda wins. The variety of cheeses, combined with the bits of heat from the pepper and sweetness of the honey, create a combination that sings. The Pancetta’s rosemary is an interesting addition, but, combined with the onion, it’s slightly too pungent for me.
In addition to pizza, Jay’s also offers a few small plates. These include marinated olives ($5), prosciutto and mozzarella ($8), and mixed greens with red onion, tomato, mozzarella, pecorino, and balsamic vinaigrette ($7). A dessert menu can be found on a chalkboard by the register: tonight it’s tiramisu bread pudding ($6), passion fruit tart with whipped cream ($4), and rhubarb fennel pie ($4).
Langfelder combines a time-tested method with high quality ingredients to bring something truly special to Western New York eaters. Authenticity and quality trump quantity here, so if you’re looking for pizza that’ll transport you out of Buffalo and into Napoli, Langfelder will happily be your guide.