When Santiago Orosco thinks of comfort food, he thinks of the food from his Argentinian heritage. So three years ago, when a space in Bordentown City opened up, Orosco and his mother, Estela Buontempo Orosco, pounced on the opportunity to turn an available clothing store space into an eclectic cafe.
The space at 210 Farnsworth Ave. has remained the home of Under the Moon Café ever since.
Orosco said that he and his mother ran a small restaurant only a block away from the current location that served lighter Italian fare, but that the limited space prevented them from delving into the delicious recipes of their heritage, which requires sizeable grills to prepare authentic Argentinian meat dishes.
“Our menu at the smaller restaurant kept expanding as we tried new things, and we almost always sold out of our daily selections of sandwiches and pasta dishes, but it was just a counter space, and it was hard for us to get our concept across this way. When the opportunity came for us to move into a bigger place, we took it,” Orosco said.
At Under the Moon Café, diners enjoy comfort foods with flavors of Argentina, Italy and Spain, though the menu is ever evolving to accommodate new ideas. One of the café’s newest features is a brunch menu, aimed to draw guests in for a leisurely Sunday morning meal of stuffed French toast, frittata primavera, huevos rancheros and more. Along with the artistically mismatched tableware and décor, guests are sure to notice something new with every visit.
“Italian food is very popular around here,” Orosco said, explaining that he had some trouble introducing Argentinian flavors into the Bordentown restaurant scene at first.
“Especially because it is different, we want the restaurant to have an atmosphere of comfort. This is why we offer an alternative to the typical ‘white tablecloth’ restaurants that can be found all around town. Everything at Under the Moon Café is homemade, and our menu offers a fusion of flavors from Europe, so people can try something new in a comfortable, homey setting, or stick to something they love.”
After traveling extensively throughout Spain, Orosco brought the concept of “tapas,” or Spanish style small plates, back to the café. Guests can order a few small plates at a time as appetizers, or several to share among friends for an interactive meal, a great way to try a little bit of everything.
Orosco said that what he and his mother love most about the restaurant business is creating an enjoyable culinary experience for guests. This is why, in addition to menu mainstays like beef empanadas and UTM’s famous meatloaf, the restaurant offers daily specials and an array of freshly made desserts.
“Seeing someone enjoy their food and really clean their plate makes me happy,” he said.
Almost as varied as the décor, which incorporates vintage suitcases and antique radios into wall treatments, is the mix of music heard throughout a meal. A fast-paced salsa may be followed by a soulful Ella Fitzgerald number, but in this cozy comfort food café, it is hardly out of sync.
Marketing director Alirio Pirela said that the beauty of the restaurant is that everyone can find something to relate to.
“I have been involved with the Under the Moon Cafe for over two years now,” he said. “When I moved from New York City to Bordentown, I came in for dinner one day and absolutely enjoyed the experience. Mama — Santiago’s mother, that’s what we call her — is always there. The restaurant feels like home and I’m glad to be a part of it. I personally recommend the steak…and the lamb…and the desserts!”
Under the Moon is now featuring their “Mexican Nite” every Tuesday and Wednesday night offering classic dishes such as, short rib tacos, enchiladas, loaded nachos and much more. They will participate as well in Bordentown City’s Restaurant Week.
Under the Moon Cafe, 210 Farnsworth Avenue, Bordentown City. BYOB. underthemooncafe.com.