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BWW Review: BELLA LUNA for a Top Italian Culinary Experience on the UWS

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Mangia! Bella Luna brings the culinary joys of Italy to the Upper West Side. They offer a menu of traditional and specialty dishes in a comfortable, stylish setting. This renowned neighborhood spot has recently reopened on Columbus Avenue between 87th and 88th Street. They serve lunch daily from noon to 4:00 pm and a 3-course prix fixe meal special until 6:00 pm in addition to their a la carte menu. It is ideal place for a solo meal, an intimate dinner or a friendly gathering.

We visited early on a Saturday evening when the restaurant was bustling with couples, young families and small groups. The charming rustic interior is accented with soft lighting and a beautifully restored classic mural of Central Park. There is also an expansive and welcoming bar where you can enjoy wine and beer. The ambiance is conducive to relaxing while dining and the service is attentive and helpful.

Bella Luna was founded in 1988 its Owner, Turgut Balikci. The team also includes the Managing Partner Guray Yuksel who was the former 10-year General Manager along with Manager, Angela Noll, who has worked with Balikci for years and brings her insight and energy into the venue. Executive Chef German "Primo" Angelo helms the kitchen and has created a fabulous menu with items to suit all tastes and dietary preferences.

We started our meal with a few Antipasta selections. The Polenta Bolognese is a delicious blend of the cheesy polenta and the restaurant's signature Bolognese sauce. Their Caprese Salad is outstanding with the freshest buffalo mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, red pepper, and basil. As an entrée, we enjoyed several of our favorite dishes. Their Rigatoni alla Norma has al dente pasta with a savory tomato sauce, tender eggplant, and creamy ricotta cheese. The Grilled Salmon was perfectly prepared and presented with seasoned roasted potatoes, asparagus and a dijonnaise sauce. Meat and seafood entrees include favorites like Shrimp Scampi, Pan-Seared Trout, Veal dishes, and Grilled Lamb Chops. And there are specialty pastas like their Lamb Pappardelle, Gnocchi with a choice of sauces, and Capellini alla Campagnola.

You'll love the selection of Bella Luna's Brick Oven Pizzas that are great for table sharing. Selections include classics like Margherita, Marinara, and White Pizza. Or try one of the house specialties like their Vegetarian pie with eggplant, zucchini, mixed pepper and sundried tomato or the Bella Luna with wild mushroom, onion, fontina cheese and truffle oil.

Bella Luna has a carefully selected wine list with red, white, sparkling and rose by the glass or bottle with an emphasis on Italian wines. They also have an all-day, every day wine special of Montepulciano or Pinot Grigio for $7.00. For those that prefer, there's a nice selection of beer.

Be sure to save some room for a cup of cappuccino or espresso and a special dessert like their house made Tiramisu or a Italian delight, Tartufo with vanilla and chocolate ice cream with a cherry nut center coated in a semi-sweet chocolate shell.

Bella Luna is a top choice in New York City for approachable gourmet Italian cuisine. Gather your group and visit the Upper West Side neighborhood to find out what the buzz is all about. It's also an incredibly convenient restaurant when you visit area museums, Central Park and local theaters.

Bella Luna is located at 574 Columbus Avenue between 87th and 88th streets, New York, NY 10024. 212-877-2267. Their menu items are available for catering and take-out. Hours of operation are Sunday-Thursday lunch 12 p.m.-4 p.m. dinner 4 p.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday lunch 12 p.m.-4 p.m. dinner 4 p.m.-10:30 p.m. For more information, call 212.877.2267 or visit www.bellalunanc.com.

Photo Credit: Capellini alla Campagnola, Courtesy of Bella Luna


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