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On Tuesdays, on beach days and soon as the bookend to a day out in Oyster Bay, there’s rarely an inappropriate time to eat tacos.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve ventured into the historical village you might be pleasantly surprised to see the evolution of the area’s culinary scene, which will soon include tacos from one of the bet chefs on the North Shore.
Peter Van Der Mije, the chef and owner of Osteria Leana, is opening Taco Bay this fall.
“I opened my first restaurant Osteria Leana because I love pasta,” said Van Der Mije. “I am opening Taco Bay because I also love tacos. They are very similar in my mind—fresh tortilla, fresh pasta — both great vessels for seasonal ingredients with clean, simple flavors that inspire and delight.”
Van Der Mije is known for his focus on simple ingredients that he not only executes incredibly well, but also in unexpected ways, such as the popular, seasonal beet gnocchi dish at Osteria Leana. He hopes to bring that same philosophy to Taco Bay, where you’ll find often overlooked traditional tacos like Carnitas, Carne Asade and Chicken Tinga, but also dishes like shark tacos — made using the locally abundant dogfish and paired with pineapple salsa and cabbage — and Pupusas, an El Salvadoran stuffed flatbread with roasted bananas.
“What can I say, I love bananas,” Van Der Mije said when asked for a few of this must-try items.
At the heart of Van Der Mije’s restaurants is a love for community that’s reflected in everything from the decor to his dedication to sourcing and his commitment to village.
Taco Bay is designed to put a smile on your face from the moment you step in. The 17-seat restaurant has a laid-back surf culture vibe with a touch of 1950s nostalgia, without feeling kitschy. Van Der Mije said the inspiration for the decor was a 1949 Ford woody wagon. The seafoam green walls mixed with the heritage woody wagon trims and the vintage piped banquet present a seaside feel.
“I hope people feel they have entered a space that has character — a blast from the past, sparking nostalgia with a modern relevance,” he said. “We really wanted to create an aesthetic that was not like a Pinterest page, but was original and cool.”
Like many Long Island chefs, Van Der Mije plans to take advantage of Taco Bay’s location near farms and the sea. The kitchen will use seasonal, local ingredients whenever possible and the vast majority of the produce that will show up in Taco Bay’s dishes are from farms within the region, he said.
“We work with local farms and fishermen who are passionate about the health of their soil and water supplies — focusing on consistent regeneration of the ecosystems,” Van Der Mije said.
In creating the seasonal menus for the restaurant, Van Der Mije will also focus on reinforcing health by balancing protein, veggies and dairy.
You’ll also find local beverages such as wine from Bridge Lane and kombucha from Coastal Craft Kombucha on the menu along with three spiked punches: Margarita, Horchata, and Hibiscus.
While the restaurant expected to open in October, it was delayed in receiving the green light to do so. But it will open in the very near future, so put Oyster Bay on your list of foodie towns you need to visit this fall.
TacoBay is located at 890 South Street in Oyster Bay.