Not long ago, I purchased a coupon through YoDeal toward Bella Luna on Eastern Ave. Sounds familiar since I just recently blogged about Terry's Turf Club which is right next door, but just a coincidence. My husband and I decided to go on a random Thursday night that I didn't feel like cooking. My husband never cooks, so it's always up to me, but this night I didn't feel like it at all. Sooo, we decided to try Bella Luna.
We had been to Bella Luna once before, but it was about three years ago, and I didn't remember a whole lot about it. I had heard many mixed reviews about the restaurant through friends and other reviews I've read online. I did remember that they had won some awards at the Taste of Cincinnati this year, which after Googling it, I recalled they were The Best Damn Dish for their prime rib cannelloni and Best Seafood Entree for their Lobster Ravioli. I remember having tried the ravioli at the Taste and thinking it was just okay...but I don't think it's fair to judge at a festival setting. (We wanted to try the cannelloni at the Taste, but was sold out when we got there).
Well, Ross and I went in with no expectations. We arrived around 6:00 or so. The hostess initially asked us if we had a reservation, which we didn't, and she stated that we would either have a 30 minute wait or have to sit in the bar area. We were a bit hesitant about sitting in the bar area and stated that we would maybe just grab a drink a wait, and then the hostess suddenly said there was a table open. She led us into the dining room which had rows of booths along the walls with tables down the center. I have to state that there were hardly any tables occupied. I would have understood if maybe people had shown up throughout our dinner and taken the tables, but they didn't. I just found it odd that the hostess would tell us there was going to be a 30 minute wait when there were PLENTY of tables open. This is just a pet peeve of mine.
We were warmly greeted by our server who told us about the nightly specials and also informed us that bottles of wine were half off this night. This got us excited, until I showed her my coupon and she said that we could either use the coupon OR take half off a bottle of wine. Another pet peeve of mine. I DID pay for the coupon, and I just feel like the restaurant should honor it as money/gift certificate. BUT, that aside, we still ordered a bottle of wine with intentions of using our coupon ( I wasn't sure I would want to come back yet at this point). I have to also just say, I thought the prices of wine were a bit high. I am not a professional wine connoisseur, but I just felt like there could have been more selection in prices. The wine we ended up getting was just okay.
We perused the menus for awhile asking the server what she suggested and giving some of her favorite items. She highly recommended the prime rib cannelloni as an appetizer, which contemplated getting for about 10 minutes, but we opted not to. We thought we were getting plenty of food since entrees came with bread and a salad.
The entrees are served with a house salad which is a spring mix lettuce with tomatoes, mozzarella, and a house dressing. I wasn't impressed with this salad at all. It felt like the lettuce came from a bag without any other prep. I recently just had a discussion with my mom about how the lettuce really makes a salad, and this just did not measure up.
It took me awhile to decide what to get (what else is new) but I finally decided to get the smoked chicken ravioli with mushrooms and a mushroom type sauce which was topped with shaved parmesan. (I'm sorry, I really don't remember everything that was in this).
Ross went with the baked manicotti which is stuffed with ricotta covered in marinara. We both thought this was just okay. It really didn't seem that special to me at all, it was something that I could have made at home--but I did think the sauce was a nice. It was a bit sweet with small chunks of tomato and not something I could make at home :)
So my opinion of Bella Luna is pretty mixed. I thought my dish was fantastic and I would definitely go back to order that again. However everything else was pretty disappointing. The salad was nothing to write home about, the bread was good but not necessarily memorable, and Ross' dish was pretty much just a standard manicotti dish. I felt like the service was good--again nothing special. I noticed that the owner went around to many of the tables and asked how their meals were going, which is nice. Overall, I just felt like most of it was over-priced. Both our dishes were around $20 and the bottle of wine was around $34. I just feel like paying that much for Italian should really stand out. So, will I go back? Possibly! But, probably not in a hurry any time soon.
Food: 4 (mine) 2 (everything else)
Overall Experience: 3