A hospitality group with almost 30 years of experience in Italian cuisine will officially be coming to Downtown Jersey City next week, bringing homemade pasta, an expansive cocktail menu, and some unique fusion dishes to a historic property at 279 Grove Street.
Just about three months ago, it was revealed that the owners of Paisano’s in Rutherford signed a lease for the former Park & Sixth space near City Hall. Their suburban spot has been a staple of Downtown Rutherford since 1989 and homemade pasta churned out at Paisano’s will be coming to Luna Restaurant & Bar’s menu, which was teased in the property’s window last week.
However, co-owner Julian Muscio tells Jersey Digs that while the menu will be skewed more towards Italian dishes, it will also feature other influences. Choices like Cajun calamari and empanadas highlight the starters menu, while big plate items include a braised short rib, a New York steak, and a bacon chicken roll in addition to pappardelle, lobster ravioli, and several fish dishes.
Luna will also serve more traditional bar food like burgers and an item they dub Che pizza (which is thin crust, but deep-dish style). Muscio says that move was made in part to complement something the ownership group has never done before: run a bar. Paisano’s is a BYOB situation and Luna has a full liquor license, so Muscio knew he needed to enlist a trusted source to get the drinks right.
An old college buddy of his named A.J. landed in Jersey City after he traveled the world as a bartender, and many of the cocktails at Luna are of his creation. In addition to the libations and a large selection of beers, Luna’s 47-foot long bar will have taps dedicated to pouring both kombucha and Fernet Branca, a bitter Italian liqueur.
Despite the selection of drinks, Muscio says the dining experience will be the focus. The main room features what Luna calls a “moonlight dinners” section where a moon is projected on the wall to create an intimate setting. Ownership wished to honor the history of the building, which was once a bank, so they converted a safe room into a wine cellar that’s visible from the main dining room.
Up a short flight of stairs lies a second dining area that’s elevated and is currently growing some natural ivy to hang off railings for ambiance. Muscio says they brought in JFK Boulevard staple Joseph’s Florist for the greenery and utilized Home Boutique to refurbish the restaurant’s chairs, as they wanted a Jersey City focus on their latest endeavor.
A third room in the restaurant’s back for private events gives off what Muscio hopes will be an “old school hidden restaurant vibe,” while a wall near the restaurant’s entrance is being used to grow herbs for the kitchen.
Diners won’t have to wait long to check out Luna; they open for good on April 23. To start, the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, while remaining open until 11 p.m. on Saturday and closing on Sundays.