Luna Cafe Serves Up Authentic Albanian Food on Arthur Ave.

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The menu at Luna Cafe offers more than a typical cafe in Little Italy does, with Albanian dishes and a meals for any time of day. (Emma Nanamaker/The Fordham Ram)

By Emma Nanamaker 

The menu at Luna Cafe offers more than a typical cafe in Little Italy does, with Albanian dishes and a meals for any time of day. (Emma Nanamaker/The Fordham Ram)
The menu at Luna Cafe offers more than a typical cafe in Little Italy does, with Albanian dishes and a meals for any time of day. (Emma Nanamaker/The Fordham Ram)

Upon stepping into the bright and bustling Luna Cafe on a September afternoon, you might not realize that this restaurant, teeming with content coffee-sippers and eager waiters, just opened this May. Located on the corner of Arthur Ave. and East 187th Street, Luna Cafe could not have more prime real estate to present itself as a neighborhood staple.

With its wide open windows and outdoor seating, the atmosphere is light and inviting, conveying a distinctly European vibe. After Palombo’s Bakery closed last semester, many students and families felt lost without their classic corner spot for cannolis and cappuccinos. Luna Cafe fulfills the niche for a comforting post-Arthur-dinner dessert, but also exceeds this with its breakfast, lunch and dinner selections, more spacious seating and unique Albanian additions to the menu.A delectable combination of Italian and Albanian cuisine, Luna’s menu features everything from burgers to burek to brick-oven pizza.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Tony, who runs the restaurant with his brother, and discuss the importance of Luna joining the neighborhood’s luxe dining scene. Just eight years ago, Tony immigrated to the United States and began working as a dishwasher.
Since then, not only has he learned to speak English fluently, but he has also learned everything one needs to know to run a successful restaurant, and he has worked his way up to become both a chef and a manager.

Although Tony and his family operate other restaurants in different boroughs of New York City, they recognized that the Bronx, and Arthur Ave. in particular, needed an open space where all members of the community could grab a table and taste a variety of cultures represented through their food.

When it comes to cooking, Tony’s emphasis is on quality. Each dish is made with fresh, local ingredients. Tony holds a high standard for all food the kitchen puts out, for which he credits his Albanian upbringing. “Everything is light and fresh, so you always want to go back in for more. It is the Albanian way.” If you are looking to expand your taste buds with Albanian delicacies try the warm, flaky burek made with several layers of dough thinly rolled out by hand and filled with your choice of cheese, meat or vegetables.

If you want to try Tony’s favorite Albanian dish, order the Banja Luka, freshly baked bread glazed with sour cream and topped with pulled filet mignon, mushrooms and onions. For the best of both worlds (the Albanian and the Italian), try the “Luna Special” pizza, topped with fresh mozzarella, Albanian sausage, beef jerky, mushrooms and olives.

Now the most important part: dessert. A meal might end with one of the many colorful flavors of gelato, Italian baked goods including a rich biscotti cake or traditional Albanian pastries such as “Tri Leche,“ made with caramel and three different types of milk. Fresh crepes are served throughout the day, with decadent topping choices such as strawberry, banana and Nutella.

Of course, no meal at Luna is complete without a comforting cup of coffee — frappuccino, macchiato, espresso — you name it, Luna will make it with the best machines money can buy. Skip the Starbucks line and try the coconut caramel frappe, which tastes like a creamy dessert but will also leave you feeling refreshed and energized for the day.

Luna Cafe is open from 8 a.m. to midnight and is in the process of beginning deliveries. Tony and his staff emphasize good food and even better service, which is evident as soon as you walk through the door. There is a clear respect for the community and all the rich culture it has to offer.
For any Fordham student looking to branch out their appetite or find a cozy spot to dine in the heart of Arthur, Luna Cafe is your next must-try for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a coffee-on-the-go. Tony and the servers will be there to welcome you with open arms. It is the Albanian way.