Trattoria Luna – secrets of success

In April 2001, Trattoria Luna opened its doors to the people of Pinecrest and its surrounding communities. Recently, as the popular restaurant celebrated its 13th anniversary, my wife Lauren and I had the pleasure of dining there. It’s not difficult to see why the restaurant has thrived and garnered such a dedicated fan base.


(l-r) Daniel Mastagni, Dennis Argenal, Arnoldo Recino,Carlos Rojas.

Restaurants seem to come and go very quickly. One day you see a “Grand Opening” sign and by the time date night rolls around, there’s a “Coming Soon” sign in its place. So what is the perfect recipe for a successful restaurant? (I could not resist the food pun!) I suppose nobody really knows for sure, but if you’re looking for a few pointers, you can certainly learn a few things from Trattoria Luna.

In the mood for Italian, yet craving something a little different than your average “spaghetti and meatball” joint, we thought Trattoria Luna was the perfect choice. The menu is based on the cuisine of northern Italy, where the sauces tend to lean towards buttery and creamy rather than the rich tomato-based sauces of its southern counterpart.

Near the entrance on the hand-written board that lists the Daily Specials, I spotted the Lamb Shank served with a side of Risotto Parmesan. Although the menu was extensive and filled with what would have otherwise have been nail-biting decision makers, I knew there was a lamb shank in the kitchen with my name on it. Lauren had a delicious and homemade Gnocchi with Creamy Pesto Sauce. The serving portions were very large, so half of our entrées came home with us to enjoy for lunch the next day.

I can go on and 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 its delicious food. Equally as delightful as the menu is the service and atmosphere nourished by the personal touch of the manager and owner, Daniele Mastagni.

During our brief chat, I learned that while the menu is of northern Italian influence, you also will find many southern Italian classics. And because most items are cooked-to-order, the kitchen, which is run by chef and partner Uriel Moreno, is happy to make reasonable modifications to a dish to accommodate different appetites or requests.

Strolling from table to table, Daniele stops to chat with his patrons, most of which he knows on a first-name basis. He makes them feel like guests in his home rather than simply customers. I believe that this personalized service is the second secret ingredient (there goes another food pun!) to Trattoria Luna’s success in the community and the key ingredient that keeps people frequently coming back after all these years.

In what is possibly the perfect testament to his hospitality and the “icing on the cake” (I know, I have a pun problem), Daniele took the time to learn that I sell real estate. As he walked Lauren and me to the door, he stopped to introduce us to a regular face at Trattoria Luna, who happens to be a real estate investor. We talked for several minutes and exchanged contact information to discuss a potential investment property. Making introductions and fostering relationships, such are the ways of a gracious host.

Daniele knows his community, and he caters to his community by pairing delicious food with a warm and welcoming environment. I encourage you to go experience a lovely lunch or dinner at Trattoria Luna. As always, tell them Levi sent you.

Trattoria Luna is located at 9477 S. Dixie Highway. For more information, visit <>.

Levi Meyer is a South Florida Real Estate agent at Fortune International Realty. He is a third generation Miami native with a passion for all things in South Florida and can be contacted via his website at


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