ITHACA, N.Y. — A new Collegetown restaurant says it will specialize in tapas-style street food influenced by cuisines from around the world.

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Luna Inspired Street Food, at 310 Stewart Avenue, combines food truck favorites with the convenience of eating at a brick and mortar restaurant connected to a bar, Owner Kevin Sullivan said.

“It’s not just hot dogs anymore. It’s not just your basic tacos,” Sullivan said about up and coming gourmet food trucks.

Family and friends gather at Luna’s soft opening Tuesday.
Poutine from Luna’s

He said he and Chef Consultant Bryan Keller have known each other for years. After the Chapter House burned down in April, Sullivan said his bar, Loco Cantina, and adjoining pizza restaurant, The Connection, took a hit in business.

The two men started kicking around new ideas to increase business in April when they thought of the idea for Luna.

“We both had this concept somewhere inside of us,” Sullivan said.

They closed the pizza restaurant after the Cornell University graduation in May and remodeled the interior space with new floors, furniture and decor in less than three months.

Keller, who saw the food truck industry grow dramatically throughout the East Coast, said the men collaborated on a menu that offers food inspired by worldwide cuisines, but could be made using local ingredients from Ithaca and the surrounding area.

“We want to use the best ingredients we can get,” Keller said.

In some cases, their dedication for quality food takes them out of the Southern Tier, though.

For instance, Sullivan said he realized that delicious, quality tortillas were not readily available in the area. A recent trip to Dallas, Texas, showed him how important fresh tortillas are to a taco.

So he and Keller opted to have freshly made tortillas shipped to the restaurant twice a week from a place in Queens called Tortillaria Nixtamal.

The tortilla creates the base for the Korean Short Rib Taco, Keller’s favorite menu item.

“You bite into it and it’s like heaven,” he said.

Sullivan said one of his favorite menu items is the Pork Belly Bao Bun, made with house cured pork belly wrapped in a steam bun.

At a soft opening Tuesday night for family and friends, the men served up menu items from across the gamut — poutine, smoked gouda macaroni and cheese, Japanese inspired yakitori chicken skewers, and gourmet pizza.

The dishes are served tapas style and meant to be enjoyed in the new dining area or in the adjoining bar. Sullivan said people with a tab at the bar can even place food orders there and pick up their dishes at the counter in Luna’s.

The restaurant opens to the public Thursday. It’s hours are 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. everyday. The complete menu can be found on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The following photos were taken at Luna’s soft opening Tuesday:

Harriet Marisa (left) attended the opening to support her son and general manager Matthew Marisa. Maggie Marisa (right) drove from Delaware to be at the restaurant for her brother.
Brian Cash and Sullivan’s girlfriend, Juliana Garcia, enjoy drinks and a meal in the new dining area at Luna’s.
Luna’s staff serves up a Korean Short Rib Taco and Thai Chicken Skewer.
Owner Kevin Sullivan and Chef Consultant Bryan Keller opened the restaurant in less than three months.
Sullivan’s friends Joe and Wendy Rizzo show up to support the new business.
Aaron Baker, a graphic designer and project manager at Ithaca Sign Works, presses window clings to the outside of Luna as guests arrive at the soft opening.
One of Sullivan’s favorite dishes, the Pork Belly Bao Bun.
Keller’s wife and children pose in their Luna shirts.
(Left to right) Damon, Kristin, baby Lyla, and Fiona Keller.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.