64-02 Fresh Pond Rd., Ridgewood
Credit Cards: Yes
Hours: Tues-Thurs, Sun: 11:45 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Fri & Sat: 11:45 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
BY LYNN EDMONDS
Queens residents from all over the Borough are drawn to Bella Lena for its quality, home-style Italian food, served at a price that respects their hardworking customers’ wallets.
The dining room is cozy and intimate, with terra cotta floors, soft warm colors and gentle lighting at night, as well as big windows that let in lots of light during the day.
When guests enter the restaurant, the staff also make a point to welcome guests as if they were friends in their own dining room. Even online, they have proven themselves to be receptive to feedback and eager to make amends for a botched delivery order or any perceived problem.
The biggest challenge for a diner at Bella Lena may be to avoid getting completely full off of the hot, fluffy white bread that comes with red-pepper infused olive oil for dipping. The spicy olive oil will have you dunking bread like you’re teaching it to swim.
Next up, the homemade Burata Mozzarella is a different twist on the classic cheese that most Americans are not familiar with. The Burata looks like a beautiful ice cream ball. When you cut into it, the outer shell is Mozzarella while the inner shell is Mozzarella mixed with cream to make a softer cheese. To compliment this mild and creamy flavor, dried imported sausage and roasted peppers provide a sharp, flavorful contrast.
Guests also rave about the coconut shrimp as an appetizer.
For the pasta course, the House Specialty Fioretti it a must-try. In Italian “Fioretti” means “little flowers,” and the pasta are so named for their unique shape. Not bigger than half an inch in size, they have a small pouch which holds six cheeses, but at the top, they are pinched closed in such a way that forms cute petals. The highlight of the dishes is the fragrant pesto, made with fresh basil and bursting with flavor.
Save room for the Chicken Marsala, a pleasing favorite with mushrooms and marsala wine sauce. The string beans and carrots that accompany the dish are delicious and guaranteed not to suffer the fate of scorned vegetables but to be cherished right alongside the meat.
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Bella Lena offers a two for $65 deal, which means two drinks, two appetizers, two entrees, two desserts, and two coffees.
Chef Ivano Calle was trained at one of the top Italian restaurants on Mulberry Street in Manhattan. He opened Trattoria Lucia, the sister restaurant he owns with Joseph Villanti, in 2005, and Bella Lena in 2012. Bella Lena does full-service off-site catering as well as private parties in their party room, and they deliver within a three mile radius.