A Slice of Italy in Oyster Bay

Peter Van Der Mije ’98, chef and owner of Osteria Leana, in Oyster Bay, New York. MATT FURMAN

Italian food is the most popular ethnic cuisine in America, according to a report by the National Restaurant Association.

That bodes well for Peter Van Der Mije ’98, who opened Osteria Leana, a chic, casual Italian spot in the town of Oyster Bay on Long Island’s Gold Coast. Osteria refers to a place that serves wine and simple food. Van Der Mije’s restaurant, which opened in 2016, serves more than 30 bottles of white, red, and sparkling Italian wines along with craft beers and cocktails.

But the highlight is definitely the food, or more specifically the chef’s pasta, which he generously serves as the anchor of a five-course tasting menu from Sunday through Thursday. For example, Van Der Mije’s offerings include cacio e pepe bucatini, a rolled pasta with oxtail short rib ragu, beet gnocchi, and clam tagliatelle. The seasonal secondi dishes include a pan-roasted lamb loin, veal chop, sautéed local sea bass, and a tantalizing Neapolitan uova in purgatorio (eggs in purgatory).

Seasonality is important to Van Der Mije, who worked for notable chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Marcus Samuelsson, and Dan Kluger in New York City after attending Rhodes College, culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and Cornell’s School of Hotel Management, where he earned an MBA. But a trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with seven of his Taft classmates the summer after they finished college was where he got hooked on cooking.

He says he always knew he wanted to open a restaurant—“something small, local, convenient and accessible for for great food because of the availability of farms,” Van Der Mije says. “The oldest clammer in the Northeast, Flower and Sons, is down the street.” You won’t find clam pasta fresher than that. And because of its commitment to sustainability and community enhancement, Osteria Leana is also one of two certified green restaurants on Long Island by the Green Restaurant Association.

Osteria Leana’s stylish interior. ALLISON FORLENZA

Osteria Leana is the kind of place you want to return to on a regular basis. On any given day, there are families, couples of all ages, and large parties celebrating at the restaurant’s communal table.

Long Island newspaper Newsday called it a “romantic hidden gem where the simple preparations done well display confidence and the skill of the chef.”

Van Der Mije should be proud.

—Sam Dangremond ’05

Read more about the restaurant at www.OsteriaLeana.com