Along Cincinnati’s eastern edge, Bella Luna has a surprisingly modest exterior which hides some incredibly tasty Italian food. The humble little place serves up a very modern comfortable atmosphere and a very friendly menu. Some of the tastiest items here have garnered the nice little restaurant a mountain of awards. At the 2011 Taste of Cincinnati food festival, they brought home a trophy that explains it all: “Best Damn Dish.” You will undoubtedly taste some of the best damn food in the city. Far from the prominence of other Cincinnati eateries, this place is a far undervalued jewel in the Queen City’s crown.
So the dish that knocked the socks off everyone at the festival (and one of five awards the place took home this year) is the Prime Rib Cantelloni, a complicated dish of prime rib braised in tomatoes until it it’s unfathomably soft and served in the pasta shell over three cheeses. It’s like eating bliss. The soft dish melts in your mouth and the flavors integrate so expertly it’s impossible to determine by yourself exactly what went into them. I would recommend anyone and everyone try this dish as soon as possible. It will blow you away.
Of course it isn’t the only thing they offer. There are a variety of pastas and pizzas to accentuate the menu, and these have also been highly regarded by other critics around the city. The Lobster Raviolli is among them. Indeed, you will find crab, shrimp and lobster in all kinds of pastas across Bella Luna’s menu. It’s surreal, really, how good it is. The side dishes are outstanding too; from the salad served with a house honey balsamic dressing, to the prosciutto, capicola, foccacia and olives piled onto sampler platters to try. All I can say is it’s absolutely stunning. Everything on the menu is just knockout good.
The atmosphere is outstanding, and the service is great. The place seems to pride itself as a sort of fine dining experience with a classy bar, but it also seems to attract a lot of different types with its casual atmosphere. The light is low but the walls are covered with art and the seats with pillows.
The service is great, too. Italian food is another one of those items that you might have a hard time understanding all of the terms, but the wait staff is extra accommodating. What’s best, the manager on duty, upon discovering it was my mother’s birthday, gave us a gift certificate for another stop in. Little things like that make this place one in a million.
- Absolutely the specialty dishes like the Prime Rib Cantelloni are the best items on the menu. Seafood pasta is also a great bet.
- There are seasonal menus, and a lot of things are subject to change as the year goes on, so be sure to call ahead to see what’s cooking.
- It’s a casual environment, but the food is slightly more expensive. They’re aiming for a more upscale experience here.