For amateur sommeliers, foodies and people who just enjoy having a nice drink and a bite with some friends, the Wine Line Kitchen and Bar in Oyster Bay has something for everyone. The restaurant, one of the many new spots that have opened following the wind-down of the pandemic, began serving diners in early June, and has quickly become a local favorite.
The Wine Line is the newest business venture by the Milana family and their partners in Oyster Bay. Their other businesses include Stellina Ristorante and Cardinali Bakery, and they are planning to open a new candy store in the coming weeks.
Tom Milana, the family patriarch and part owner of the Wine Line, explained that he wanted to develop an online wine shop in 2020, but he needed a retail liquor license, which in turn necessitated an actual store. People in Oyster Bay encouraged him to open it in the hamlet, where, Milana said, it could be more like “an old-style Napa Valley wine shop,” with tastings and more exotic offerings, making for a more unique experience.
Before its opening, the Wine Line was stuck in business limbo for nearly two years. After buying and refurbishing the property on Audrey Avenue, Milana said, he was unable to get a license for it as a wine store, because, according to state law, it was too close to another liquor store, VNS Wine & Liquor, on South Street.
“It took 10 months for the (State Liquor Authority) to tell me (I was) denied, then it took another three months for them to tell me denied again when we appealed, so I had to pivot,” he said. “So we came up with the concept of turning it into a kitchen bar, and so far, so good.”
Tom’s daughter, Giulia, manages the establishment, overseeing its day-to-day operations. Once the decision was made to turn it into a restaurant and bar, Giulia said, she and her father knew that it was important that the food be top-notch.
Fabrizio Facchini, co-owner of the Wine Line and Stellina and the executive chef at Stellina, supervises the menu at the new venue. Giulia said that while they wanted to include bar staples like pizza and burgers, they wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just regular bar food.
“We have a really great team of cooks that have helped curate a really delicious and very different menu,” she said.
Food options include flatbread pizza, cheese and meat platters, lobster rolls and more. Tom Milana added that, following the suggestion of the wife of a friend, they will be adding salads to the menu, to give the Wine Line a less meat-forward focus.
The restaurant’s main attraction is its wide range of alcohol and wines. The wine menu is extensive, including reds and whites from as far afield as Italy, Argentina and New Zealand, and the Milanas have also developed several specialty cocktails, putting new spins on timeless classics with drinks like the Wine Line Spritz and Giulia’s Martini.
Giulia also explained that while the plan wasn’t always to have the store in Oyster Bay, since its opening, the community has welcomed it warmly. One of the hamlet’s most admirable characteristics, she said, is how open it is to new businesses, and she and her family are happy to provide some new nightlife options.
“It’s really just exciting to help bring life and business to this community, because I think the people here deserve it,” Milana said. “It’s been just a really fun experience doing all of this, and just being a part of helping this town thrive.”