In a series of black and white portraits that pop against the backdrop of rich burgundy walls, smiling farm workers stationed around the world stand amid their crops, tools in hand. The photographs are the first hint at Peoples Organic Coffee & Wine Café's mission to link ingredients back to their source. The second hint is the menu, which boasts a roster of local farms: the ham comes from Fischer Farm, the chicken sausage from Schultz Farm, and the bison from Eichtens Family Farm. Chefs spotlight these free-range meats in wholesome burgers, wraps, and salads, which they enhance with fresh, organic veggies and housemade sauces. To complement meals, the café boasts a beer menu filled with choices from local breweries such as the limited-supply Surly and Fulton. Additionally, its wine selection runneth over with biodynamic, organic, and sustainable varietals, which are tastier than their unsustainable counterpart, unicorn tears.
Subway tiles and a tin ceiling line the cozy confines of Maeve’s Cafe, where friendly servers zip sandwiches and salads to tables populated by neighborhood regulars. The checkerboard floor and vintage decor elements evoke nostalgic memories of childhood trips to train stations, malt shops, and Bobby Fischer’s castle. The staffers aim to cultivate a similar feeling of wonder with made-to-order comfort fare, which ranges from small, shareable plates of prosciutto and olives to breakfast bagels and hearty paninis oozing with cheddar, brie, or gruyere. Hot espresso and cold-press coffee compete for the honor of raising sleepy eyelids, and sweet italian sodas refresh palates with effervescent fizz.
Chef Dennis Lewis of Ursula's Wine Bar & Cafe draws from his cornucopia of seasonal produce, sourced from local farmers, to craft his monthly changing menu. It’s a menu that has earned OpenTable Diners' Choice Awards for "Best Food" and "Best Overall" experience. In the kitchen, Chef Lewis chops greens from local producers, including Twin Pine Farm, Grandmas Bakery, and Pine Tree Apple Orchard, to toss with blueberry-balsamic vinaigrettes and curried, creamy coconut dressings. His monthly updated menu has included appetizers such as goat-cheese gratin with sun-dried tomatoes and spicy red-pepper hummus with warm flatbread. The kitchen team also prepares entrees that are seasonally inspired, like reindeer lawn ornaments and air-conditioner window decorations. An example of this seasonal food is the pork loin rubbed with ancho-chipotle chili and served with pumpkin mashed potatoes and bacon brown butter. The dining area accommodates 39 guests, meaning there are more than three times as many varieties of domestic and imported wines—150 to be exact—as there are guests at any given time. There’s also an outdoor patio, where wine flights can be sipped while plane flights sip the sky overhead.
The youngest of nine children, Luna Rossa’s owner and chef, Raffaele Virgillo, grew up at his mother’s side, studying her every move as she cooked in the kitchen of their small cottage in southern Italy. Emigrating to the United States in the 1970s, Virgillo put the culinary skills and magical Italian incantations he learned from his mother to use here in the States. He settled in the Twin Cities, where he cooked his way through four restaurants before opening the original Buona Sera, and eventually, Luna Rossa. There, he works alongside his daughter, Anna, son-in-law, Jesse, and grandson, Vinny, serving a menu of Italian-inspired cuisine within a rustic eatery near Stillwater’s historic limestone caves.