A Tuscan neighborhood spot draws in quite a crowd to the Upper West Side’s Bella Luna. Originally opened in 1988, the restaurant has a menu that would overwhelm anyone, with a handful of appetizer and salad options, plenty of pastas and pizzas, and even entree options like braised lamb shank and grilled salmon. And with a menu so robust, it’s not entirely surprising that there were both hits and misses among the ranks.
We started off strong with some great appetizer selections – including the Fried Calamari served with spicy marinara sauce, and the Polenta with bolognese sauce. The calamari was a total classic, cooked perfectly with a nice crunch and a dipping sauce that complemented it, while the polenta was quickly devoured with a winning combination of flavors to make it go down easy.
With so many options for the main course, it really comes down to what you’re in the mood for, so we opted to try some of their signature pastas: the Fettuccine Primavera and Gnocchi in a pesto sauce with sun-dried tomatoes. I have nothing bad to say about either of these dishes, however, neither were memorable. Both were good, albeit lacking in flavor. This is one of the only Italian restaurants I’ve been to that actually underutilized garlic.
The meal ended on a high note, though, with Bella Luna’s Tiramisu. It was everything I’ve come to expect from the Italian classic and it was done impeccably well. I’d love to come back for a glass of wine or two and split this dessert with a friend.
While I have mixed feelings about this neighborhood staple, it seems extremely popular among the locals, and it is charming and rustic inside. I just think they can turn it up a notch.
Twisted Talk: Have you ever dined at Bella Luna before? What’s your favorite Italian restaurant in the city? Discuss below!