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Bella Luna (CLOSED)

284 Amory Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
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Photo of Bella Luna, Jamaica Plain, MA When the word first got out more than a decade ago that Bella Luna and the Milky Way Lounge might be leaving their Centre Street space, a lot of people in Jamaica Plain--and the Greater Boston area in general--became a bit worried and dismayed, as this combination Italian restaurant/lounge/bowling alley had been a JP institution for a good amount of time. Well, the bowling alley is no longer around, but the rest of this quirky place remains in business, this time on Amory Street (near Egleston Square) in The Brewery, a beautifully restored historic building that oozes with charm and character.

Bella Luna and the Milky Way share The Brewery with other businesses and offices, and now more closely share one single space (the old spot had the Milky Way downstairs and Bella Luna upstairs). To the left and toward the back is a funky bar with a handful of stools where folks can enjoy all kinds of drinks, including a number of microbrews. The dining area stretches mostly across the front, with many tables situated next to large windows looking out over the parking lot and the neighborhood. There is also a room in the back that includes more seating and an area where musicians and other entertainers can perform. Wii Sports and other games are offered in the Milky Way section of the space. The lighting throughout Bella Luna and the Milky Way includes an offbeat mix of lighted hanging stars and the type of ceiling spotlights you might find in an art gallery. On warmer evenings, an outdoor deck is situated to the right of the dining area, wrapping around the building's soaring chimney.

Much of the food that was featured at the old Bella Luna remains on the menu, including the delicious spinach ravioli in garlic ginger cream sauce; a very good grilled thin-crust pizza (including a white pizza that can be ordered with a variety of toppings, including mushrooms and bacon); an outstanding version of steak frites that includes excellent handcut fries; and an oddly named entree called "better than your mama's meatballs" which features delectable (and huge) homemade meatballs, linguini, parmesan cheese, marinara sauce, and garlic toast. Other dishes (depending on the time of year and what's on the specials list) include an overstuffed lobster roll with plenty of claw and tail meat; a chicken marsala that features a buttery wine sauce and fresh angel hair pasta, a stick-to-your-ribs risotto that is sometimes available with beets and beet greens, a substantial "brewery" burger that comes with truffle fries within it, and a Tuscan chicken that comes with a light-tasting garlic white wine sauce and various vegetables. Appetizers shouldn't be overlooked, as the flash-fried calamari is better than similar dishes you'll find at many of the best Boston-area Italian restaurants, while the poutine is very cheesy (and sinful) dish and the pulled pork nachos are almost a meal in of itself. Soups at Bella Luna are freshly made and hearty (the carrot-ginger, beef edamame mushroom, and curried sweet potato soups are both good options when they are offered), while the salads are similarly fresh, with the silver moon (field greens, gorgonzola cheese, croutons, cranberries, and parmesan peppercorn dressing) being particularly good. If you have room, desserts are worth considering; the dessert offerings change each night, and sometimes include a fresh cannoli that is very tasty without being overly sweet and a very decadent brownie sundae.

It is great to see that Bella Luna and the Milky Way Lounge survived and have been in their new home in The Brewery Complex for a number of years now. It is sad to see the bowling alley gone, but the new space has a ton of personality, the drink list is still interesting and varied, and the food remains as good, if not better, than before. Jamaica Plain residents can certainly breathe a sigh of relief, as a beloved place of theirs looks to continue thriving in this quirky Boston neighborhood for a long time to come.