Bella Luna – April 2017 (dt)
7.21 – 7.5, 7.5, 7.3, 7.25, 7.25, 7, 7, 6.9

An inexorably southward drive led us into Saugerties onto Partition Street, with a final resting at Bella Luna, an adventuresome Karnesian selection.

As one might anticipate, Italian cuisine rules. And we enjoyed.
From the regular menu:

From the specials board, all four choices selected:

            All were judged consistently good to excellent: fresh lasagna rolled around the vegetables, a bit of heat as requested by a few, tasty sauces, simple plates abounding in flavor. And portions big enough that five of us had enough for another meal.
            Suggestions for improvement were minor: four shrimp were adequate but…, one dish needed salt from one who does not usually add salt, and not much more.

Preceding the entrées was a minimalist salad that typified the menu: greens, olives, and grilled red peppers – seemingly simple but distinctive and full of flavor.

Upon seating, two baskets of linen-wrapped, sliced Italian bread were delivered with ramekins of butter. That would have been sufficient but ten minutes later, two dinner plates of the standard house appetizer were ceremoniously placed – rolled bread, almost pastry like, layered with spinach, with a half-cup of a tomato-eggplant salsa-type. Ohmy, we melted. A follow-up salad could have sufficed after we wolfed down this tasty morsel (word for big morsel?).

The dessert course was declined, partially because of satiety and partially because of timing, explained later.

The drink orders included a Banfi 2015 Chianti Classico for four of us, a beer on tap, and water and/or sodas.

Service by Kathy was very good, with one glitch. She was overtly friendly, facially expressive more than most, hunched over to talk to us, obviously attentive, timely in checking in at the appropriate times, and delightful for this evening. She suggested early on the difficulty that the large round table posed, so we joined in passing plates and drinks to the impossible to reach spots, something she appreciated and thanked us for each time. Her knowledge of food was welcome, as was her detailing the history of Bella Luna (later).
The one fault came after a leisurely end to the entrée course and she asked about dessert. Someone (me?) expressed interest, she dropped off menus, and then disappeared for twenty minutes. When she did return, a “little birdie had told her” that we wished not to experience dessert so she had bill in hand when she did return. (The “birdie” was one of us on the way to the bathroom.) Given our fullness and the time of evening, perhaps it played out well enough although I had my eye on Rocky’s Supreme (vanilla mascarpone center, chocolate pudding top, walnut butter crust – next time).
            Water was regularly filled, plates cleared appropriately, etc.

The setting certainly is distinctive. The dining room is a 30’ x 30’, with a plate glass window front from a late incarnation. When asked, Kathy told us it had been a derelict building refurbished more than a year ago. And what a worthy renovation. The brick walls were artfully cleaned and became a visual treat. The original ceiling had been removed, revealing the wood beams above, with the second story flooring visible. A metal I-beam in the center provided structural integrity, I suspect.
            Lighting came from four three-unit bare thread-LEDs, unusual choice but distinctive for this setting. Our major source of light came through the glass plate windows beside which we sat. Those of us facing Partition Street watched traffic and passers-by while the back-facers had the view of the other customers, the flapping kitchen door, and an upstairs that led to somewhere we would have wanted to explore.
            The front “door” is an emergency exit only which, after a five minutes, I appreciated more for the uninterrupted view and for the lack of foot traffic next to us that would have transpired otherwise.
            Which leads to entry of the building. A sign on the “front door” points to the side, leading us to a recently built walkway that overlooked Cue, a barbecue restaurant next door about 50 feet away, with mostly open space in between. In the back is a shed, apparently open in the summer and a large open patio for larger crowds. To be explored as spring closes.
            Back to the entry. So, halfway along the side of the building lurks the door. Upon entering, leftward leads to the bar half of the building, with plenty of seating and a view of the large open area noted. Divided by the enclosed kitchen, a right turn led to the dining room.
            Our table was the most distinctive table of our 173 trips. A large, six-foot table (felt like ten) awaited, filling one front corner of the room with placement against the plate glass windows. A decorative two-inch wide carving circled the table, two inches from the edge, while a foot-wide table-spanning bamboo table runner – decorative, interrupting the expanse of the table.
            The table fit eight well enough but servicing the three in the corner was near impossible. Thus, the open edge people became willing passers-of-goods to help Kathie. Conversation levels were moderate; the room was a bit noisy, and the table’s size led us to talk semi-loudly.
            Sorry for so much junk for ambiance – it was fun to observe – simple, curiosity-piquing, cozy-attractive.
The final bill came to $75 per couple, influenced by a lighter drink order and no dessert. We left, vowing to return for their well-known pizza, and for the seasonal gelato shop next door. A recommendation from a business acquaintance of DK’s had prompted the visit to Bella Luna, and it was a worthy casual find.

Thursdays have become the night of choice since last fall, providing a less hectic experience we think. The evening started from the Notar house as a drop-off point with immediate departure. Someone in the leading car accidentally several times switched on a turn signal to deceive the trailing car.
Conversation topic #1, as those in the know would know, is the last few months of the last working teacher. We must have asked Kerry a dozen questions, which he patiently detailed.
            Other topics at the table, and from the ride there and back: spring weather and blooms, schedule of the nuclear engineer (70 hours a week sometimes), the Quinn kids (plenty of stories), Julie wanting to go to Constantinople, Turkish soap operas (there is a connection of these last two things), binge watching The Walking Dead (?!), whereabouts of Den and Adamses and Monteverds and Lynda & Ross, a new summer resident perhaps, trip photo albums, Nathan’s house, Deb’s art, health insurance, the working class among us, gardens, the Quinn trip to Ireland in late summer-fall, St. Louis baseball trip for Karneses, and other myriad other topics that indicated busy and rewarding lives, even with the stresses.