Louey's | Italian American Bar & Kitchen @ Espy Hotel

Louey's | Italian American Bar & Kitchen @ Espy Hotel


Follow the warm glow and good vibes to Louey's, an Italian American inspired bar and kitchen located in St Kilda's iconic Espy Hotel.

With splashes of neon, luxe red leather booths, soft lighting and a disco ball that drops from the ceiling when the DJ ups the volume, Louey's radiates fun, food and frivolity.

So grab your friends, colleagues or partner and feel the love @ Louey's.

Trading Hours
Wednesday - Sunday
12:00pm - late

GoodFood Review

13.5/20 | Italian

What's the easiest way to let someone know you've never been to Yonkers, New York?

Perhaps by making a cocktail heavily reliant on passionfruit and name it after Yonkers, as if the city separating the Bronx from Westchester County were some kind of tropical paradise and not a heavily industrial working-class enclave.

As I sipped my (admittedly delicious) "passionfruit Yonkers" ($22.50) at Louey's, the new Italian-American joint in the back of the Esplanade Hotel, I pondered what might actually represent Yonkers in a cocktail. Something oily? Maybe smoky? Later, my sister weighed in. She, like me, attended school not far from Yonkers. "Beer mixed with orange juice," she quipped.

It's a curious thing, Melbourne's obsession with New York-style Italian joints, especially when they turn out as fantastical as Louey's, a pop-art-adorned space with neon pizza slices decorating the ceiling, a disco ball, and, many nights, DJs spinning music underneath that whirling mirrored orb. It's a bit like the Disney version of the Italian-American restaurant, a pure fantasy that piles on the gooey cheesy decadence while mostly ignoring the reality of what might be served in any real American restaurant that's not in a theme park.

That's not always a bad thing. There's a pull-apart garlic bread situation ($16) that's so loaded with cheese and butter that it's impossible not to love. Pizzas ($27-$34) are similarly tawdry, slightly sloppy from almost-undercooked crusts and an abundance of toppings. The menu makes no bones about this: many descriptions include phrases like "very cheesy" and "loads of basil". It does not lie.

This approach works best with dishes like the eggplant parmesan ($26), which is not only cooked to a pleasing mush and crusted with a ton of parmesan, it's also stuffed with ricotta. Subtle? No. Delicious glop? Yes.

Pastas range from simple ("big rigatoni" with red sauce and vodka, $28) to over-the-top, such as the gnocchi carbonara ($33), which was so rich I could only muster a few bites.

Things become a little dicier when it comes to a half lobster, which, at $75, could be considered a bargain (I've seen half lobsters around town go for upwards of twice that price). But the spiny beast comes out unevenly cooked and hard to wrestle from its shell, its copious lashing of green garlic butter helping but not hiding its flaws.

And I wondered, in a kitchen so determined to slather, fry and otherwise enrich everything, why the green tomato side ($12) was soused and not fried, the result overly sour and a tad woody.

For a place this unabashed in its pursuit of gaudy fun, it's odd that the dessert selection is limited to cannoli ($8 each), lemon gelato and sorbet served in a lemon ($16) and a gelato of the day (market price). I'd expect an ice-cream sundae, a pile of bomboloni, or at least a perfunctory tiramisu. The cannoli are quite good, though.

Service is a bit of an issue. Either the place is slammed, in which case the amicable young staff are exceedingly harried, or it's dead, in which case they turn languid, failing to do basic table maintenance. On a recent quiet Sunday evening a spray bottle of cleaner and a rag was left for most of our meal on the booth partition next to us, we had to beg for water, and servers walked by studiously avoiding my hopeful attempts at eye contact.

But look, this place is as fun as can be, if you're into maximalist food and vibes. It's great for kids - a friend's daughter just celebrated her eighth birthday there and had an absolute blast, the disco music and glittery lights and cheesy food making for a proper celebration. And the Espy itself is a bit of a booze-soaked theme park these days, allowing for multiple fantastical versions of the pub: the speakeasy bar and the grungy live music venue under one roof. Louey's may be the silliest of them all, but it makes no apologies for itself. There's a certain charm to a place so unabashed in its exuberance.

The low-down

Vibe: Pop-art-encrusted, disco-ball lit, theme park version of a red-sauce Italian joint

Go-to dish: Eggplant parmigiana, $26

Drinks: Cocktails that are almost novelty but nonetheless well-made; short Italian and Australian wine list

Cost: About $130 for two, plus drinks

Review Besha Rodell - September 19, 2023 | theage.com.au/goodfood

❊ Venue | Location ❊

 Hotel Esplanade - Espy [ view ]
 11 The Esplanade St Kilda Victoria 3182 View Map
 Telephone: +61 3 9534 0211

11 The Esplanade, St KildaVictoria(03) 9534 0211

❊ Web Links ❊

Louey's | Italian American Bar & Kitchen @ Espy Hotel 

❊ Also See.. ❊

Australian Venue Co

Disclaimer: Check with the venue (web links) before making plans, travelling or buying tickets.

Accessibility: Contact the venue for accessibility information.

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Louey's | Italian American Bar & Kitchen @ Espy Hotel