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Nuova Luna Restaurant Opens in Bistro 44's Downtown Spot

Downtown district will host a grand opening May 7

A new face downtown will add another restaurant to the space where Bistro 44 once was.

Master chef Umberto Turelli said he is bringing affordable Italian comfort food to downtown Toms River. “It’s going to be hearty, stick to your ribs kind of food,” Turelli said.

Located in the former Bistro 44 spot, at 44 Washington St., Turelli took over the location from Eric Witherspoon, a past winner on the Food Network’s “Chopped.”

Turelli has owned restaurants all over Monmouth and Ocean counties, including Freehold, Colts Neck, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro. He said he eyed Toms River as a potential location because he was looking to open up something close to home.

“My kids go to school here, I’ve coached soccer for my son for a number of years — downtown Toms River needs attention, and I’m hoping to help my own community,” Turelli said. “I’m hoping we’ll be a focal point.”

Turelli purchased the 2,500-square-foot space in the end of February. He said the restaurant employs about four or five servers, with three additional people in the kitchen. “It’s not a huge space,” Turelli said. It seats 65.

A soft opening will be held April 30, although he said word of the opening has been spreading so much, he’s not sure how “soft” the opening will be.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and it’s very humbling,” he said.

Jody Alessandrine, executive director of the Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District, said Nuova Luna will be the sixth new-business opening since early December. “We’re proud we have a slew of new businesses opening,” he said. “We feel confident they’ve identified the right price point, and we think it’s going to be a home run,” he said.

Turelli said there is no item on the menu that costs more than $20. “It’s very unique,” he said. “If you’re going to come here, you’re going to experience something different.”

He said sandwiches cost up to $12, which come with a salad or fries, and pasta costs between $13 and $15.

“You’re not going to see chicken parm on the menu. We’ll make it, if a customer requests it, but we consider our food to be the most traditional comfort food there is.”

The grand opening for Nuova Luna is slated for May 7, with a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m.

Max April 28, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Downtown needs this! Although the nightlife at Baker's Water Street is fun, Baker's Water Street's food is atrocious. We were thinking about having food delivered to Baker's from Jimmy C's while we danced at Water Street! It's very sad because when it was The Lobster Shanty, the food was pretty good. Baker's Water Street just keeps getting worse and worse. Maybe Nuova Luna's food is great and not over-priced, we'll have dinner there, then make our way over to Water Street for dancing!
Laci April 28, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Good luck to Nuova Luna yet I can't see the students of Toms River South spending up to $12.00 for a sandwich on their lunch break. Remember back in the day $1.50 bought you a cheeseburger, fries and a coke at the Sweet Shop, left a 25 cent tip and had a quarter left to play the pinball machine.
Scott April 28, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I currently live in downtown TR and previously lived in Freehold Twp, where their other location was. I am looking forward to their opening and I am expecting myself to be a faithful customer. Downtown TR needs this. For the longest time, I was hoping that Joe Leone would open a location here. With a large amount of Italian-Americans in TR, they should do very well. Best of luck to you guys.
Kate April 29, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Sad to see this space, that once offered such an outstanding culinary experience in Chef Weatherspool's Bistro 44, turned into another Italian Restaurant. The Toms River area is already saturated with Italian options. Here's to hoping that Chef Turelli can offer us something BEYOND the mainstream, average Italian experience. Best of Luck Chef Turelli!
. April 30, 2012 at 10:48 AM
Apparently for some reason, Chef Erik couldn't make a go of it in this location for very long. The food at Bistro 44 wasn't the best I have ever eaten. Yes, there are a lot of pizzerias and so/so Italian restaurants in Toms River, but there really aren't too many good Italian restaurants. Too many chain restaurants around. I hope they suceed.
marcy April 30, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Another Italian restaurant???? and why does he call these prices affordable??? Just like all the others. I guess I will try it to see it it is TRULY unique.
WhyohWhy April 30, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Well, personally I don't know what is more of a "traditional comfort food"(Chicken Parm) other than a good ol dish of macaroni ! Prices aren't THAT different...they are competitive with others in the area. Pasta is one of the most cheapest dishes to make, and you start them at $13 ? WHY do you open another Italian restaurant right acorss the street from one on the corner? My best wishes to Nuova Luna... but I dont' see it happening. JMO!
WhyohWhy April 30, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Max don't know what you are taking about. Their apps and steak dishes are great and priced pretty good. Now if you are ordering an Italian dish ?? well this is some place you shouldn't, its a Bar & Grill ! And Pizza doesn't count ! LOL We've been there a few times now and never had a bad meal.
Mrs smith May 18, 2012 at 11:43 PM
We just ate our first meal at NL . Just finishing dessert! The meal was superb! The portions were large but not obnoxious, and quite delicious not to mentioned reasonably priced! We split an appetizer each had an entree and split dessert with coffees for 65$ The wait staff was friendly and accomodating! It is my husband's new favorite restaurant! We will be back!
WhyohWhy May 19, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Thanks Mrs Smith... guess I am gonna have 2 give it a try...it is a BYOB , right ?
Nicole June 05, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Are you serious? When it was the Lobster Shanty the food was HORRIBLE! The food is great at Bakers Water Street!
Nicole June 05, 2012 at 02:55 PM
I will sincerely miss Bistro 44...thought the food and the atmosphere were wonderful there.
Chef Umberto Turelli June 13, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Kate please come and be my guest I will show you why Erik reached out to me when Bistro 44 with a new owner couldn't make it, we are not your typical Italian Restaurant, and I would love to have you be my guest and write about your experience........ Thanks Umberto Turelli
Chef Umberto Turelli June 13, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Thank You so much and please let me know the next time you are in I would like to thank you personally..... Umberto Turelli
. June 13, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Is there a website or online menu to view?
Sal T June 13, 2012 at 08:25 PM


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