Volume 76, Number 52 | May 23 -29, 2007

A Salute to Union Square

A Special Villager Supplement

Latin flavor at Luna Park

Luna Park, the Union Square Park outdoor restaurant, officially opened for the summer season on Sun., May 20. Each year, the restaurant has a new celebrity chef. This year, Luna Park’s chef will be Luis Gonzalez, executive chef of the popular Coffee Shop on Union Square West. Diners will be treated to an Italian trattoria menu created by Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, who became Coffee Shop’s top chef last year, trained under renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Earlier in his career, Gonzalez served as chef de cuisine at Vongerichten’s Mercer Kitchen and sous chef at JoJo, Vongerichten’s Upper East Side eatery. Past celebrity chefs for Luna Park include Scott Conant, of Alto; Joseph Fortunato, of Extra Virgin; Pippa Collanda, of Le Madri; and Matthew Tivey, of Chef Louis. Prior to his tenure with Vongerichten, Gonzalez learned sushi rolling from experts at Bond Street restaurant.

Gonzalez specializes in progressive Latin cuisine, drawing on Latin ingredients and spices to give a new twist to traditional Asian, Italian and American dishes. He puts an emphasis on serving fresh fish, such as barimundi flown in from the South Pacific. Gonzalez procures much of his produce from the Union Square Greenmarket’s independent suppliers.

“People who come to Luna Park are looking for the quintessential New York City summertime experience of fun and delectable food, cool drinks and lots of socializing,” Gonzalez said. “I’m looking forward to re-creating an Italian trattoria where people can enjoy dishes paired with a variety of wines or other beverages in a beautiful setting.”

Luna Park and Coffee Shop are entities of Gotham City Restaurant Group, which is owned by Charles Milite, Eric Petterson and Carolyn Benitez. The three former fashion-industry colleagues became restaurateurs in 1987 by opening Live Bait on 23rd St. off Madison Square Park. In 1990, they purchased a Greek diner on the corner of 16th St. and Union Square West and converted it into Coffee Shop, which fast became a celebrity favorite and Downtown nighttime hotspot.

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