Upper Kirby workers and residents in search of a casual pizza fix have a new dining option thanks to the recently opened Luna Pizzeria. The two-week-old restaurant replaced the Brown Bag Deli at the corner of Kirby and Richmond, and, like Brown Bag, it's a concept from the owners of casual, comfort food mini-empire Barnaby's Cafe.
"I love pizza," owner Jeff Gale tells CultureMap. "This particular location was underperforming as Brown Bag. I wanted to offer the neighborhood an evening destination."
Seeing that, with the exception of Star Pizza, the neighborhood was mostly serviced by chains, Gale saw an opportunity to launch Luna.
They won't please pizza snobs who demand ultra-thin, crispy crusts, but the menu's basic choices, quick service and warm atmosphere will find an audience.
As for the menu, "We kept it classic," Gale says. The restaurant's philosophy is to "buy good ingredients and do very little to them," which is reflected in the thick slices of andouille sausage on one pizza or the fresh arugula that tops another.
While thin, crispy, Italian style pies are currently trendy, Luna goes another direction with a San Francisco style sourdough crust that's made for the restaurant by local bakery Angela's Oven. The recipe uses high quality King Arthur flour and does not contain any preservatives or stabilizers.
Individual pizzas are only $7 and large enough to satisfy a lunch craving easily. They won't please pizza snobs who demand ultra-thin, crispy crusts, but the menu's basic choices, quick service and warm atmosphere will help it find an audience.
Three basic salads and sandwiches round out the menu. In addition to the classic Barnaby's Caesar that's made with real anchovies, Gale is particularly proud of the arugula and fennel salad with Marcona almonds in a lemon vinaigrette.
Luna offers counter service, but "we may go full service at night if our customers demand it," Gale says. The restaurant has applied for a retail liquor license that will allow it to sell beer and wine to go, but, since TABC won't grant final approval for at least two months, the restaurant is giving away wine for now.
Given the success of both Barnaby's and Brown Bag, it seems natural that this Luna is the first of at least a few, but Gale says he's just trying to get this location running smoothly before looking ahead.
"You never know," Gales replies about whether there will be additional Lunas. "If it goes well, it wouldn't be out of the question . . . but there's no master plan of opening more."
For now, Luna offers a new, family friendly pizza joint in a neighborhood that doesn't have many of them. More of those are never a bad thing.