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May2024_Flat-Iron_Andrew-Cebulka-19454.jpg Andrew Cebulka
The expected average price point for diners without drinks is $35-$55 per person. 

Luminosa in Asheville, N.C., features Appalachian-influenced Italian cuisine

The restaurants’ leadership team from Indigo Road Hospitality discuss the new venue

Indigo Road Hospitality group opened Luminosa in May in the new Flat Iron Hotel in Asheville, N.C. Its executive chef, Graham House, is focusing on ingredients from nearby farms and purveyors to shape the seasonally driven menu. The restaurant is described as an Italian eatery with a localized lens on Appalachian cuisine. Its wood-burning oven and grill serve as the heart of Luminosa, adding a smoky flavor profile to the offerings such as pizzas, whole roasted fish, and locally sourced proteins. Paying homage to the city’s acclaimed brewery scene, the space also showcases local, unique beers, including an exclusive collaboration with Wedge Brewing Company. It also has a diverse cocktail program and Italian-focused wine list.

Beneath the main dining room, in a former boiler room with the original door preserved, is a speakeasy-style bar named Red Ribbon Society.

In addition to House, the Luminosa kitchen is also led by chef de cuisine Sean McMullen. 

The expected average price point for diners without drinks is $35-$55 per person. 

House, Indigo Road founder Steve Palmer, and beverage director and manager Sarah Charles Hereford, recently discussed the restaurant.

Pizzoccheri_with_cabbage,_potato_and_sageAndrew-Cebulka-19834.jpgPhoto: Pizzoccheri with cabbage, potato and sage

Photo credit: Andrew Cebulka

What drives the creative aspects of this restaurant? 

Graham House: Chef de cuisine Sean [McMullen] and I get bored really quickly cooking the same dishes for weeks at a time. Having such a good relationship with talented farmers who bring produce to us at its peak season drives us to be creative and use the products in ways that showcase the unique bounty of Appalachia.

Sarah Charles Hereford: The beverage program gets to be in lockstep with what is happening in the kitchen, trying to incorporate all trim and specialty ingredients coming from the farmers and foragers. This will be an integral theme in Red Ribbon — trying to offer that same hyper-seasonality in the beverages just as is happening in the kitchen

Are there any signature dishes you feel fully represent the vibe of the space?

GH: I feel it’s too early in the life of Luminosa to choose a signature dish. It’s kind of like when you rescue a puppy. You don't choose a name. It chooses itself. 

What drew you to this community as a place for this concept?

Steve Palmer: Asheville has long been a community that celebrates authentic and creative pursuits, especially in the culinary landscape. With Luminosa, we saw an opportunity to combine my passion for Italian cuisine with our local chefs’ [House and McMullen] mutual passion for Appalachian ingredients. The result is a signature restaurant where Appalachia meets Italy, nestled within a significant adaptive reuse project in the heart of downtown Asheville.

What are some of the key features of the design of the space, and how will they impact guest experience?

SP: Luminosa’s thoughtful design evokes a cozy tavern atmosphere, with warm, wood-centric elements that complement the rustic Italian menu. We have tables in sunlit corners and leather banquettes for dining with a group, but for me it’s all about being able to see out the windows, with multiple bays overlooking the bustling street and lifestyle of Asheville. Our open kitchen with a roaring wood-fired grill showcases the cornerstone of Luminosa’s menu, and the linear footprint of the flat iron-shaped building creates a layout with unique little nooks, which in turn creates a more intimate feeling for guests.

Correction: July 09, 2024
This story has been updated to correct Luminosa’s opening date.
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