The wait is almost over. Luna Stella, the new restaurant owned by Max Kian and operated by Humberto Campos at 5 Highland Place in Maplewood Village, is scheduled to launch this winter.
“We hope to open just before Christmas,” said Kian, who owns the building. “But it may be as late as February 1. It all depends on how the construction goes.”
Luna Stella was known as Altopiano in its planning stages. But Kian changed his mind. “I wanted to name it after my grandchildren, Luna and Stella,” he said.
Humberto Campos, celebrated chef and owner of the famed Lorena’s on Maplewood Avenue, has signed on to operate Luna Stella. “This is going to have a different feel from Lorena’s,” said Campos. “Lorena’s is small, romantic and quiet. Luna Stella will be more family-oriented. We see it as rustic Italian food with a casual ambiance.”
“We will make our pasta from scratch,” said Campos. And the other ingredients will focus on high-quality local foods and beverages. Luna Stella intends to highlight the local beers, as well as LaFrieda meats and Gargiulo produce. Campos is also working on robust vegan, gluten free and dairy free menus.
A tour of the construction site shows the building, which used to house Highland Place, has been completely gutted and redesigned. While Highland Place had an overall dark and cozy feel, Luna Stella is open and bright, with tall ceilings and five skylights.
Across the front of the building are wall-sized folding windows to allow open air dining, which is much the same as Highland Place. But Luna Stella ups the game with patio dining in the rear, complete with heating lamps for cooler days. Also planned is a private room, seating about 50 people.
Luna Stella will have two large bars, and an open kitchen so everyone can see the chefs preparing food. And speaking of chefs, Campos says he will be concentrating his attention on Luna Stella for the near term, with his wife and brother-in-law taking on larger roles at Lorena’s.
“It’s just across the street,” Campos said. “I may go back and forth.”
Price points for food will be $25-30 for lunch and $40-45 for dinner. Watch here for Luna Stella’s grand opening date.