LaLa’s Lounge in Bay Shore is currently, absolutely the hidden gem of the South Shore dining scene.
It won’t be for long.
This is a place, inspired by Fire Island and tucked away near the Bay Shore Marina, where people will meet for a late lunch and then find themselves staying through the night, only to pick up their cars the next morning.
That means great memories are being made, and shared.
So, yeah, word is going to spread.
LaLa’s Lounge is owned by Bay Shore restaurateur Andy Tartaglia and his girlfriend, Leah Fernandes (pictured above), with their chef and partner Kevin Breeden running the kitchen.
The trio debuted LaLa’s earlier this summer. The bar and café is located at 25 Bayview Avenue, which was most recently Swept Away.
But the history and memories go way back.
“Some of the stories we hear a lot about are from the 50s and 60s, when it was Vinnie’s Happy Landing, where locals met and eventually got married,” Tartaglia said. “Then it was Popeye’s, a clammers’ bar, very blue collar, pool tables … a little bit of action.” (This means fights, in restaurant parlance.)
Cool Water Grill opened to fanfare there in 2005. That same partnership reinvented the space as Swept Away after Sandy took its toll here and on much of the shoreline in 2012.
“There’s a lot of community history in this building,” Tartaglia said. “It’s been a range of different things, but it always had that welcome, bayside, seaside, chill component.”
The couple didn’t look to what’s trending when trying to come up with a concept last winter for what would become LaLa’s Lounge. They didn’t think of what food was missing from Bay Shore’s thriving restaurant scene — in an effort to fill a void or be another piece in a wider puzzle.
They just wanted to build a spot that they would love.
After all, this would be a home away from home.
Tartaglia drew personal inspiration from Don Henley’s 1985 hit song, Sunset Grill.
“Where everybody’s just having a good time,” he said. “It’s the interpersonal relationships, and the people working in the building. The team and the community that supports us equally is what’s really important, way more than whatever’s on the walls.
Not to say the decor was an afterthought.
“The decor was definitely a labor of love,” Fernandes said, crediting Tartaglia as the driving creative force.
“He has a really clear vision of how he wants things to look and feel,” she said. “So we brightened it up with some lighter paint, some fun pops of wallpaper and botanicals to draw the eye in,” along with a collection of wood, iron and other pieces the two would find thrifting across Long Island.
“It’s also about nostalgia,” Tartaglia said, “going back into those historic bars that have been here for so long, shining it up but staying true to the location and what came before us.”
But its soul, the couple emphasizes, is informed by the seaside days and nights of years past on the barrier beaches to the south.
The owners and staffers, both in the front and the back, have tallied decades of experience, collectively, working on Fire Island.
As with many islanders, the off-season, laid-back feel is their favorite.
“This is kind of like a Fire Island spot where we’ll be busy during the peak summer months with lot of people coming in and accessing the ferries, the marina, the bay and beaches,” Tartaglia said.
“But as you get into the fall and the menus change, the nights get longer, the food gets a heartier, with the pool, the darts and the music; it’s really going to be like Fire Island in that way.”
“We built our own clubhouse,” he added. “And now we’re ready to let the world in on our little secret.”
If you go
The name LaLa’s is a combination of Leah and Andrew, and pays homage to their partner Kevin Breeden’s time cooking in Los Angeles. It’s also Andy’s pet name for Leah in moments of whimsy. The two also took inspiration from all the great la-la choruses in music, which is a big part of the scene.
The address is 25 Bayview Avenue, which runs along the north border of the Bay Shore Marina property on the Great South Bay. There are outdoor dining options either in the front or back patios. The kitchen is open daily from noon to 10 p.m. Click here for the LaLa’s menu.
LaLa’s also offers happy hour specials on weekdays.
Follow @lalasloungeli on Instagram
Or LaLa’s Lounge on Facebook
Top: Andy Tartaglia at LaLa’s Lounge in Bay Shore. (Michael White)