Thursday, July 1, 2010

Restaurant Review: Bella Luna

Instead of letting everyone in the house abandon me and leaving me to stalk the aisles of Whole Foods for dinner (not necessarily a bad thing, really), my mom invited me to her dinner date with a friend. And then put me on restaurant-search duty as the resident foodie of the fam. I was more than happy to oblige :)

I had read about Bella Luna, a funky restaurant/lounge in Jamaica Plain in a feature in the [Boston] Globe. It  was described as "satisfyingly groovy" and had a menu to match, so we figured, why not??

I couldn't have described it better myself.  You walk in to a somewhat dimly lit space, most of the light shining out of big paper mache star lamps. The decor was funky, just shy of kitsch, and the service was great. Our waiter had an impressive knowledge of the wine list, too. Best of all, they have outdoor seating under bright red umbrellas. I love sitting outside. I think it totally ups the atmosphere and makes for an even lovelier evening meal.

If we weren't charmed yet, each seat had a different plate with its own hand-drawn design:
Clearly designed by some aspiring artists. TOO cute!

And I loved the bottle the water was served in:
A restaurant I just went to recently did this too...maybe this a becoming a trend in the US restaurant scene?

To start, we 3 split an order of some seriously awesome fried calamari. For all you skeptics out these, I usually don't like fried food because it tends to make me violently ill, but I couldn't resist one golden, crispy bite - and it was SO good. Some of the best I've had.
We also split the Mediterranean Duet, warm pita bread with raw veggies and 2 dips: classic hummus and a spicy eggplant dip:
The hummus was only so-so, a little too creamy-chickpea-y for me. What can I say, I need my tahini and GAHLIC! But the eggplant dip was ca-razy good! Heavy on the ginger and with quite a kick of spice, and really tasty. The other two helped, but I pretty much dominated this plate.

For my entree, I just got a big salad - love me some arugula!
The shrimp was lovely and fresh, and the cheese was deliiisssh. Arugula and sharp cheeses like prmeggiano were basically made for each other. It also had pumpkin seeds, which I totally loved! Such a fun extra flavor addition. It was in a very simple lemon vinaigrette, which I felt needed a little work - it was a little too much like straight lemon juice. I think just a spice or two added to it could really make it incredible. But I was a very happy leaf-eater with this salad.

Mom got this beauty:
Arugula, goat cheese (!), cherry tomatoes, red onion and garlic oil.
Ok, I don't know what kind of crack they put in their crusts, but this pizza was one of the best I've had. And I've had what I consider the best - fresh from the oven, in Italy, after making it myself. But this was up there. The crust was that perfect thickness and the arugula + garlic oil made it herby and delicious. I had a slice and then a couple more teeny tiny slivers when we brought it home. Whoa.

And Mom's friend Barb (and just in case she reads this...HI!!!) got the wild mushroom ravioli:
I had half of a bite of my madre's bite because it's me and I avoid all things involving peas like they're mosquitoes (and, actually, ravioli...but that's another story), but the bite I had was some seriously phenomenal ravioli. The earthy mushrooms + creamy sweet cheese filling flavors were just spot on.

Dessert came in the form of lemon sorbet and tiramisu. Now, I will say that this is one restaurant where the "judge a restaurant by their desserts" rule does not work. We had great appetizers and wonderful entrees, but I was quite disappointed in the dessert. The sorbet, although refreshing and lemonade-like, had a very odd texture. It was almost like freezer burn-icy on the outside (which had a watery flavor) but then oddly chewy on the inside. Sorbet, to me, is supposed to be smooth and almost creamy, at least easy for a spoon to dig in. This was almost gummy, and there was nothing inventive about the flavor. The tiramisu was even more of a disappointment - I mean, I realize I'm horribly biased, but still. The sponge in the middle was watery and weak tasting, and the whipped cream on top tasted very artificial. And the chocolate syrup was no better than Hershey's out of a bottle - not that that doesn't have it's place, but come on. That place is not tiramisu! I tried [multiple times] to take a picture, but the sun had long since set and LuLu wasn't having it. Clearly they should just hire me to be the tiramisu chef! Haha, jk jk (sort of ;).

Dessert aside, it was a lovely meal with great conversation and company, and that is what a meal is supposed to be.



  1. Gillian!!! What a great review. Looking at the pictures makes me want to do the same thing (minus the tiramisu) all over again. Count me in any time you want to try a new place. I had a great time checking out Bella Luna with you and your Mom! Bon appetit, Barb

  2. Great review. I visit Jamaica Plain twice a day to visit my sister. I will try to visit them this winter when I go to MA. They should thank you for writing such a great review of their restaurant :) Thanks...