Osteria Leana, which recently opened in Oyster Bay, doesn’t pull any punches. Inside the small brick Italian tavern, the lines are clean, the color scheme is white and navy and the food follows suit. “It doesn’t try to knock your culinary socks off, it’s just there to please and it succeeds,” Pulse food reviewer Richard Scholem wrote in the October issue of Pulse.
Craving a good, honest Italian meal, I spoke with chef Peter Van Der Mije about some of the restaurant’s most loved dishes.
No meat, no problem. Van Der Mije tops housemade pappardelle pasta with ricotta, fresh herbs and a veggie bolognese for a hearty dish even carnivores are devouring. “Vegetarian dishes really allow the fresh, clean flavor of the ingredients to shine through.” And shine through they do. “The bolognese mimics your Italian grandma’s ragu with dried basil and oregano complementing the finely diced mushroom and veggie medley.”
This antipasti dish epitomizes the old adage “less is more.” “The burrata is plain by comparison to some of [my] other dishes, but our simplicity highlights the freshness of the imported burrata.” The burrata comes with warm, just-out-of-the-oven ciabatta slices. The tangy pomegranate balsamic adds a subtle but noteworthy twist on the classic appetizer.
Van Der Mije hailed his pici pasta, dumpling-like pasta braised with oxtail short rib Ragu, as the “epitome of simple Italian.” He makes the pasta in-house with a simple, hand-rolled dough made of flour and water. The oxtail short rib Ragu, an underutilized cut, mixed with pancetta and short rib combines to form a richness that Van Der Mije promises “feeds the soul.”
Blue Point Oysters
Osteria Leana doesn’t have to go far to get some of the best briny fish around—they pluck ‘em straight from Oyster Bay. Don’t expect a whole lot of bells-and-whistles when it comes to seasoning. As he does with many of his dishes, Van Der Mije abides by the rule that “the flavor of Mother Nature is not to be tampered with.” He keeps it simple by serving the oysters on a half shell, accompanied by a simple chili tomato sauce that adds slight acidity and a heat that cleanses the palate for the next oyster shot (and there will be a next oyster shot).
Italian nights never end with the entree—coffee and desserts are required. The Affogato, a hazelnut gelato drenched in fresh-brewed Southdown Coffee espresso (a favorite Huntington coffee shop opening a second location in Oyster Bay this year), combines the two. The chill of the gelato and warmth of the espresso take tastebuds on one last joy ride.
Be sure to check out our “Who’s Cooking” feature in the March issue of Pulse for an interview with Van Der Mije.