Former La Luna chef connects weekly with customers

| October 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

ROBERTINO GIOVANNELLI proudly displays his provisions from Italy.

Although La Luna Ristorante means “the moon restaurant” in our tiny part of the solar system, it was a “star” of homemade Northern Italian food on Larchmont Boulevard starting in 1991 and continuing for 15 years. Robertino Giovannelli was the 23-year-old Italian chef/owner when he started the local establishment. “It was my dream come true. I really enjoyed it, the community and the customers. It kept me alive,” is how Giovannelli describes his owning the restaurant.

Giovannelli was heartbroken when he had to close his restaurant in 2006 because of landlord and lease issues. What was he to do?

Food was his passion. He lived it. He’d been cooking since he was in high school, went to culinary school in Italy, and worked at numerous restaurants in both Italy and Los Angeles. As Giovannelli relates, “In Italy, the dining table is where all the action takes place. Sitting down with family, with friends, having some wine, some food with the people you love.”

As luck would have it, he was able to rent a kitchen at Melrose Avenue and Vine Street — a perfect location to stay in the neighborhood and keep in touch with his customers. He began catering and also became certified to cook school lunches. One of his clients is Larchmont Charter School at Hollygrove and LaFayette Park.

The Larchmont Sunday Farmers’ Market had started about a year before his restaurant closed. He thought it was nice having the local market. “Maybe I could have a booth there and see how it goes,” he recalled thinking. He signed up, starting small with just a few sauces and some pasta. It took off and is still going strong.

Each week, he offers a beautiful and bountiful selection of frozen entrées, sauces and soups just like he made in the restaurant. Over the years, he’s added fresh and dried pastas, imported oils and condiments and Italian-inspired empanadas. It’s everything you need to make your own Italian feast. He sees customers who are thrilled to know that they can still purchase a particular sauce or entrée that their children or spouses adored in the restaurant.

These weekly interactions are a great way for him to keep in touch with his loyal customers of 30 years. They warmly welcomed him into this community and into a city that can be challenging, especially as a restaurant owner, as recounted to the Chronicle recently.

A LONG LIST of homemade sauces, soups and meals available Sundays at Robertino’s stall.

Although he was initially upset with the closing of his restaurant, as with many incidents, when one door closes, another one opens. For the last 15 years, he’s enjoyed the more flexible schedule of not having to open or close a restaurant every day and the opportunity to spend more time with his daughter, who is now 17 years old. He also caters and is gearing up to provide a traditional Thanksgiving Day spread for anyone who still wants him to do the cooking.

Visit his eye-catching stall at the Sunday Farmers’ Market or order delicious treats online at

Tags: , , , ,

Category: People

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *