Back in April 2001, Trattoria Luna opened for business and began serving fine Italian cuisine to the people of Pinecrest and adjacent communities.
Last month, the popular restaurant, at 9477 S. Dixie Hwy., celebrated its 13th anniversary and my wife Lauren and I had the pleasure of dining there. It was not hard to understand why the bistro has thrived and developed such a dedicated following of diners.
Restaurants come and go very quickly in South Florida; one day you see a “Grand Opening” sign and by the time the big day rolls around, there’s a “Coming Soon” sign in its place. So what is the perfect “recipe” (I could not resist the food pun) for a successful restaurant? Nobody really knows, but if you’re looking for a few pointers, you can learn a few things from the Trattoria Luna operation.
We were in the mood for Italian, but craving something a little different than the average spaghetti-and-meatball joint, so we headed for Trattoria Luna. The menu is based on the cuisine of northern Italy where the sauces tend to towards buttery and creamy rather than the rich tomato-based sauces of the south. Near the front door there is a hand-written menu board that displays the daily specials. It was there that I spotted the lamb shank served with a side of risotto parmesan.
Although the menu was extensive and filled with what would have been nail-biting decisions, I knew there was a lamb shank somewhere in the kitchen with my name on it.
Lauren had a delicious homemade gnocchi with a creamy pesto sauce. It was so big that half of it came home with us in a doggy bag and we had it for lunch the next day.
I could go on about the delicious Gorgonzola Polenta appetizer or the custard-and strawberry- filled Napoleon dessert, but I don’t want to leave you with the impression that the success of this restaurant lies solely in the delicious food. Equally delightful is the service and atmosphere nourished by the personal touch of the manager-owner Daniel Mastagni. In our brief chat, I learned that while the menu is of northern Italian influence, there are also many southern Italian classics. And because most items are cooked to order, the kitchen — superbly operated by Mastagni’s partner, Chef Luis Moreno — will make reasonable modifications to a dish to accommodate different appetites or diets.
Strolling from table to table, Mastagni will stop to chat with patrons, calling many by their first name and treating them like guests in his home rather than customers in his restaurant. This, I believe, is the second secret to Trattoria Luna’s success and the “ingredient” that has kept people coming back for all these years.
In what is possibly the perfect testament to his hospitality and the “icing on the cake” to this story, Mastagni took time to chat with me and learned that I sell real estate. As he walked us to the door, he stopped to introduce us to a regular patron who just happened to be a real estate investor. We talked for several minutes and then exchanged contact information so we could later discuss a potentially available investment property.
Making introductions and fostering relationships, such are the ways of a gracious host. Mastagni knows his community and he caters to it by pairing delicious food with a warm and welcoming environment.
I encourage you to experience lunch or dinner at Trattoria Luna. Tell them Levi Meyer sent you.
For reservations or more information, call 305-669-9448.
Levi Meyer is a third generation Miamian and a real estate agent with Fortune International Realty. He may be contacted by email at <email@example.com>.