Slice of Italy on the river: Luna Rossa Trattoria expands operation into new downtown wine cave, liquor store

Lisa Traiser and Rafaelle Virgillo have partnered to open Luna Rossa Wine Cave and Liquor Shop in downtown Stillwater. The shop is the first liquor store on Main Street and is in a part of the old Joseph Wolf Brewery Cave. The shop is expected to open the weekend of Aug. 4.

The corner on Main Street where Luna Rossa Trattoria & Wine Bar holds court has recently been an active part of downtown Stillwater.

Upgrades have been made to the restaurant’s patio where live music and bonfires take place, a wine and beer garden was introduced in June, cave tours of the old Joseph Wolf Brewery are given on the hour and a café that sells cold press coffee and real Italian gelato has popped up.

It’s a small slice of Italy in Stillwater, which makes sense since Luna Rossa is owned by Italian native Raffaele Virgillo.

Now Virgillo has teamed with Lisa Traiser to open the Luna Rossa Wine Cave and Liquor Shop. The store is in a part of the caves Traiser and Virgillo believed to be under-utilized and debuts the weekend of Aug. 4.

“We really wanted to be a leader,” Traiser said. “We’re implementing the shop because there’s so much character in the space but also because there’s a demand for it. There’s no liquor store on Main Street and I feel that it’s a niche that needs to be filled.”

The shop features wines from all over the world and unique brands of scotch and other liquors. Traiser and Virgillo plan to serve finger food and tapas in the cave and will have Lift Bridge Brewery beer on tap.

Traiser and Virgillo teamed up with Lift Bridge to make three special recipes for the shop that include a lager, pale and dark beers. Both Traiser and Virgillo said local businesses have supported the project and they plan to team up with others in the future.

“The businesses have to work together right now because of the new bridge going in the community,” Virgillo said. “The new bridge could be a salvation, revitalization or a dramatic change and we have to team up and work together hand in hand to make a better Stillwater as it goes through this new rebirth.”

Other features of their new venture include a VIP club, a wine club and specials such as six wines for $60. They hope to put in food and wine education programs and grab-and-go kits that pair Virgillo’s sauces with the correct wine in the future.

If that seems like a lot, they’re not quite done. A boutique hotel and a microbrewery will be added as time permits.

“We’re hoping to make it appropriate for groups of any sort and we’ve made sure that there’s something in it for everyone,” Traiser said. “It’s perfect for tourists, locals, girls weekends, guys weekends and celebrations.”