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Meet the Sommelier: Angela Noll of BELLA LUNA on the UWS

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Angela Noll has created the fine wine list for Bella Luna, the popular Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side. She joined the Bella Luna staff in November of 2015 at the original location before overseeing the renovation and reopening in late January of 2017. Noll received her bachelor's degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey. She has worked in the restaurant industry for more than 10 years, which has led to her love for good food and passion for wine.

Broadwayworld.com interviewed Angela Noll about her career and continuing interest in fine wine.

When did you first become interested in fine wine?

I always thought of myself as too laid back to be a wine drinker, but in my late 20's I realized that the "fine wine" stereotype was in my head. Wine should be a relaxing experience and can be enjoyed by anyone. It can enhance a casual dinner among friends, it can ease the burden of a bad date, it just makes everything better.

What are some of your personal qualities or talents that have enhanced your career?

I grew up in a German/Italian home so I certainly know how to drink and eat as a social event. I love sharing that comforting family feeling with our guests.

Who have been some of your professional mentors or individuals that have inspired your work?

I've collected my wine knowledge from a number of different people over the years. I started my career at a wine bar on the Upper West Side where I quickly learned the basics of "wining and dining." It was there that I met the owner of Bella Luna, Turgut Balikci. He has been a huge help in my upbringing as a restaurant manager and as a wine enthusiast.

Tell us a little about your travel experiences as a sommelier.

Therein lies the greatness of wine tasting: you can travel around the world without ever leaving the table. While I have not traveled far in my pursuit of wine, I have submerged myself in wine culture. I'm always on the lookout for wines from unusual regions-I absolutely love South African wines. I'm also quick to try local wineries here on the East Coast like Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and upstate New York.

Why do you find your career as a sommelier so rewarding?

In college, I worked as a gift wrapper at a local wine and gourmet food shop. I found that I loved to design gift baskets for the customers' special occasions. I'd pair a basket for a wedding or dinner party or ladies' night. With each one, I would try to match the wine and goodies with the events they were planned for. I'd say I'm still doing this 10 years later, but around a table instead of in a basket. It's great to make someone's simple weeknight meal special with something as easy as a bottle of good wine.

What is one of your favorite meals and what wine would you select for it?

On the second night Bella Luna opened, I ordered the signature Bella Luna pizza with oyster mushrooms, fontina cheese, and truffle oil, paired with a glass of our new Lambrusco. That is my current favorite. The Lambrusco is off-dry and bubbly, and alongside that rich, earthy truffle goodness, it's decadent and delicious!

Tell us a little about the restaurant or organization that you currently work with.

Bella Luna has been the neighborhood pasta spot for nearly 30 years. I had the pleasure of getting to know the Bella Luna community before we relocated to our new location at 574 Columbus Ave. When we carried out the renovation, it was important to us to maintain a welcoming neighborhood atmosphere, while getting ourselves up to date with a modern dining experience. The food is comforting and nostalgic, the wine is approachable and affordable, and the rustic Italian ambience is unbeatable.

Bella Luna is located at 574 Columbus Avenue between 87th and 88th Streets, New York, NY 10024. Call them at 212-877-2267 and visit their web site at www.bellalunanycom. They are available for catering and take-out. Hours of operation are Sunday-Thursday dinner from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday dinner from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Angela Noll


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