One of the capital’s first Italian restaurants has got its renovation off to a tee. Marissa Carruthers visits Luna with photography by Rudi Towiro.

Forget any argument to the contrary; first impressions count, and the recently renovated tropical garden that greets guests as they walk into Luna on Street 29 is set to impress. Hidden amidst swathes of greenery sit sofa beds and low tables, as well as a long bar serving classic cocktails and a pristine open-plan kitchen.

The interior has also undergone a revamp, with gritty graffiti art by Peap Tarr and Lisa Mam adorning walls for a contemporary but stylish finish. “We wanted to make it more relaxed for people,” explains general manager Sous Chanthea. “Make the garden nicer and offer guests more of an experience.”

The emphasis remains on fresh, quality produce – a premise that has kept Luna at the top of the city’s ever-expanding number of Italian venues during its eight-year stint in Cambodia. And since Australian chef Glenn Thompson, who has 30 years of experience, took to the kitchen’s helm, a host of new treats have been added to the menu.

Aside from Luna’s well-known pizzas and pastas, the restaurant’s signature dishes explore a range of flavours. The beef Carpaccio ($8.50) is made up of seared and caramalised meat, with shaved Parmesan, herbs and shallots added on top. Drizzles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar give the dish a fresh flavour.

Potato tortellini is a new addition and consists of a creamy purée of baked potato, goats’ cheese, mint, butter and milk stuffed inside wraps of soft, freshly-made pasta. The chef adds a blend of capers, lemon juice and chopped parsley for balance.

A firm favourite is the indulgent pork belly ($13.50), with customers returning for the crispy crackling that covers a thick layer of tender meat. To perfect the crisp, the pork is slow-roasted with salt in a wood-fire oven for two hours, before being transferred to a standard oven. Dollops of apple and vanilla purée and a splash of vinegar to cut through the pork add a sweet and sharp finish.

No dining experience would be complete without indulging in a dessert and a popular option is the beautifully presented passionfruit soufflé. The fluffy cloud-like soufflé is made from lashings of passionfruit folded with egg white. Served in a large coffee mug, a scoop of pink raspberry sorbet sits alongside it.

“Here, we strive to offer the best in quality, fresh produce with an Italian flavour,” explains chef Glenn, heading back into the kitchen to cater to the evening crowd.

6 Street 29, Phnom Penh.
Tel: 023 220 895.
Open daily from 11am to 11pm