For the last year, this neighborhood Italian restaurant, located at 64-02 Fresh Pond Rd. in Ridgewood, has shaped and reshaped the definition of what it means to be family in the world of comfort food.
Aside from their welcoming staff of servers, Bella Lena’s Chef Ivano takes the cooking to a new level with his years of training on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, and most recently at Trattoria Lucia in Bellerose.
Last week, we tasted some of the chef’s top dishes and were pleasantly surprised by what they had to offer.
Appetizers like the fresh buffalo mozzarella with eggplant caponata and the fried calamari were both filling and had just the right amount of flavor. A favorite of ours was the jumbo coconut shrimp with homemade honey mustard sauce.
The chicken lorenza was cooked to perfection and served off the bone with a healthy helping of sausage, potatoes and pepperoncini peppers, while the flounder filet francese was also carefully constructed over homemade spinach.
Although it was difficult for us to find our favorite dish, we were especially surprised with the delicacy of the pasta fioretti boscaiola, a money bag-style pasta dish, stuffed with cheese and covered in a mouthwatering pink sauce with peas, prosciutto and mushrooms.
Bella Lena's owner Karen Calle noted that while the restaurant is a great place for families to relax after a long day, they also specialize in catering and party planning, with a hidden second dining room for large parties.
Calle and her staff have truly found the right mix between fine Italian dining and family-style ambiance.