Overview: Jamaica Plain’s Bella Luna Restaurant and Milky Way Lounge moved from its Centre Street location to its current home at the Brewery Complex. A hop, skip, and jump away from the Stony Brook MBTA station, Bella Luna is adjacent to Ula Cafe and several other businesses around the brewery. Although the establishment is nestled in a quiet, residential neighborhood, the restaurant and bar were bustling with diners and energy, creating a lively scene for a casual, midweek dinner.
Drinks: The well-lit bar is stocked with bottles of various types available for the range of specialty cocktails, dessert drinks, draft and bottled beers ($5-$6), and wine by the glass ($7-9), carafe ($16), or bottle ($22-35). A non-alcoholic (Haake Beck) and a gluten-free (New Grist Original) beer are available. The housemade sangria ($8) contains Tuaca, a sweet, Italian, vanilla and citrus-based liqueur. Popular in the Rocky Mountains and a personal favorite of mine, I have struggled finding Tuaca east of the Mississippi and was delighted to discover it at this unlikely venue. An array of fun martinis, a cosmo-mojito hybrid, and spicy, pepper-infused spirits also make the short list of cocktail favorites.
Appetizers: Served at both lunch and dinner, the Mediterranean mezze plate (hummus, eggplant, olives and pita chips, $8) is flagged as vegan and ideal for sharing with a group. On the dinner menu only, double luck mussels (red Thai curry, coconut milk, sweet peppers, lemongrass, and cilantro, $10) is advertised as gluten-free, along with a few other gluten-free options on the menu. Mini apps include spiced almonds ($2.50), Cool Hand Luke deviled eggs ($2), and house made farm stand pickled vegetables ($4).
Entrées: For carnivores, the hearty Bella burger (8 oz. sirloin with a choice of hand cut fries, sweet potato fries, or a side salad, $10; cheddar, bacon, and/or other toppings for an additional $1-$2 each) makes for a filling meal. The vegetarian/vegan alternative is the Big Easy black bean burger (black bean, portabella, and bulgar patty seasoned with cumin, onion, coriander and garlic, topped with lime crema, $10; toppings also an additional $1-$2 each). Gluten-free jambalaya (creole rice with chicken, shrimp and sausage, $18) is available, as well as an array of pasta dishes. A fish of the day and the daily vegan special change regularly and are available upon request.
Pizza: Bella Luna offers an extensive list of small and large gourmet pizzas, made with house made sauce and dough. The menu includes the Simple Simon (fresh sauce, mozzarella, $7/$11); La Bella Luna, which is the house version of the margherita pizza (tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, $8/$13); and Lover’s Lane (white pizza with garlic oil, arugula, goat cheese, tomato and red onion, $12/$19). Or, make your own pie, by starting with a Simple Simon and adding your own toppings for $1 (small) or $2 (large) each.
Kids’ menu: Called the Little Dipper menu (a propos of the Milky Way theme), the items include mac and cheese ($6), chicken fingers (with hand cut fried, $6), and penne with butter or marinara sauce ($5; +$2.50 with a meatball). All children’s meals are served with a free milk, chocolate milk or Real City soda. Juices include orange, grapefruit, pineapple, cranberry, and apple ($2.50 each).
Desserts: The house made desserts change seasonally, but the ones on the menu in December included chocolate mousse (with whipped cream, $5), chocolate-bourbon pecan pie (whipped cream and caramel sauce, $6), and a vegan red velvet cupcake (with chocolate ganache, $4). Dessert drinks and digestifs were also available, served either with or in lieu of the edible sweet treats.
Ambience: Lighting is dim, warm and ubiquitous at Bella Luna. The entire space exudes a low, inviting, versatile glow: it can be romantic, sexy, fun, social and/or relaxing. Large, red stars hang overhead and eclectic artwork adorns the walls throughout the restaurant and bar. The plates look as though decorated in marker by school children, simultaneously lowbrow and stylishly funky. They oddly work for the space, regardless of the occasion. A dance floor, which provides less lighting, and DJ can be found in the adjoining room, adding a night life element to the venue.
Service: Attentive, funky and knowledgeable, our waitress was an apt representative of Bella Luna. Donning a tight, red dress, she blended in with her environment, while exuding a casual air of approachability. The personable bartender personally showed me the way to the restroom, which is located outside of the restaurant, in the back hallway. The staff possess an appropriate balance of formality and friendliness, without being too casual or obsequious.
284 Amory Street, Jamaica Plain
Sunday-Tuesday, 5-11 p.m.
Wednesday, 5 p.m. - midnight
Thursday-Friday, 5 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.