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Tanya Tandoc

Bella Luna Cafe

I’m sure you all have heard the phrase, “The Cobbler’s children have no shoes.” Sadly for my family, the chef’s children have no food. In the house, that is. I haven’t been to the grocery store in weeks. Something has died in my refrigerator, which is an entire ecosystem I am only marginally in charge of. It’s like Biosphere 2 in there. Our pantry looks like a tornado hit the Asian market and left ravaged bags of rice noodles and shiitake mushrooms scattered everywhere. I just have not had time to cook at home lately. Once I get home, all I want is a glass of wine or three and a frozen pizza.

Pizza and boxed wine usually does the job, but I’m so thankful to have a great variety of affordable, excellent restaurants close to home. Bella Luna is one of our favorites. We go to the one in College Hill. It’s comfortable and casual and we can usually get a table without a wait. Chef Matteo Taha’s Mediterranean-influenced bistro has a sweet, neighborhood-y feel, with friendly service and delicious food. Bella Luna’s hummus is exceptional—creamy, silky-smooth, with a beautiful balance of lemon and olive oil. I love it with sautéed chicken or beef, scooped up with their house-made pita bread. The fattoush salad is enormous and savory, loaded with crunchy toasted pita chips, crisp romaine, and a lovely tangy lemony dressing.

If you are in the mood for a hamburger, Bella Luna has one of the best. It’s a half-pound of Kobe beef, seared on the grill until crunchy outside and moist within, and then loaded with provolone cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and sweet onions. This burger is an umami bomb that doesn’t need ketchup or any other condiment. The rest of the entrees that Chef Taha has created are delicious as well, accessible and comforting, but with flair. I like to order Chicken and Shrimp au Poivre for its tender, flavorful meat and buttery, rich, spicy sauce.

Bella Luna has three locations, East, West, and Central, so one of them can surely become your favorite “home away from home” restaurant.