One on one: A conversation between local businesses
April 16, 2019
RSI Bank is proud to have a strong relationship with numerous local businesses, such as Luciano’s Italian Ristorante & Lounge in Rahway. Chef Joseph Mastrella began working in the restaurant industry at the young age of 12 years old. He worked in restaurants throughout high school, later moving on to culinary school where he gained the fundamental tools needed to succeed in the industry. He has worked alongside many talented chefs at a few exclusive restaurants and hotels all over New Jersey.
We recently spoke with Chef Joseph to learn more about the restaurant.
Joseph, what makes Luciano’s Ristorante a go-to for Italian cuisine?
We planned for Luciano’s to be the go-to restaurant from the beginning. When Henry Koszalka and Michael Merlis started this project, their plan was to build an apartment building with a restaurant at ground level. The inspiration for the restaurant came from the Fulton Restaurant (once on Milton Avenue and Fulton Street, in Rahway), which was well known as a go-to place for all occasions in its time. Eleven years later, Luciano’s has become that exact vision, offering a great dining experience along with delicious food and excellent service, all at a great value.
Where do you find the inspiration for your recipes?
Much of my inspiration comes from my childhood. Raised in an old-school Italian family, we were always celebrating and cooking together. Of course, you also pick up a few tricks and techniques along the way while working with many talented chefs. I love to work with simple ingredients, preparing them in such a way that, in result, they become the highlight of any dish. I always prepare food with the mindset of not overpreparing the recipe, allowing the dish to speak for itself through the flavors.
What are some of the challenges of being a restaurant chef/partner?
Challenges are only there if you ignore them. No matter which industry you are in, you will always face challenges. What matters is how you evaluate them to see which steps are needed to overcome them. Having a strong team on your side is of great value when dealing with challenges.
What advice would you give to those who would like to open a restaurant someday?
“Don’t do it!! Just kidding, LOL.” Make sure you are opening a restaurant for the right reasons, as it will be a long journey. Always do the right thing for your guests, employees, and most importantly, the business! With this mindset, you’ll be on the right track to be successful in anything you do.
Why do you prefer working with a community bank like RSI Bank?
I prefer working with RSI Bank because I can do business with local people on a one-to-one basis. In many large companies and corporations in the world today, the days of talking with someone on the phone after the first ring no longer exists. RSI Bank is a cornerstone institution that makes it their business to know what is going on in the surrounding community, including small businesses such as Luciano’s. Getting that one-on-one attention is a crucial part of running this business.
RSI Bank is great at customizing their services to meet the specific needs of businesses. The up-to-date technology is also a big plus – you can handle any banking needs from a variety of platforms, such as online banking or the convenient mobile banking app.
Luciano’s Italian Ristorante & Lounge
1579 Main Street
Rahway, NJ 07065