The Revival Of Merced California’s Beloved Bella Luna Restaurant

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Bella Luna

Chelsea Davis

Situated successful nan bountiful area of nan Central Valley is Merced, California, a vibrant metropolis known for its blend of small-town charm, cultivation richness and taste diversity. Though galore mightiness deliberation Merced is conscionable a municipality to make a pit extremity connected nan measurement from San Francisco to bigger destinations for illustration Yosemite, successful nan past respective years this metropolis has welcomed awesome draws.

From nan historical El Capitan Hotel, a spot that captures nan frontier tone of nan American West pinch architectural elements inspired by nan 19th century, and its good eating restaurant, Rainbird, to Mainzer, a restored historical theatre making love backmost to nan early 1920s offering a divers lineup of unrecorded shows and events, retro-gaming area, and upscale American comfortableness food, Merced is genuinely an up-and-coming city, worthy of much than conscionable nan title of “gateway to Yosemite”.

With places for illustration Vista Ranch, a 20-acre humanities ranch and year-round destination for organization events, section nutrient and vino and locally made artisanal products and Corbin Cash, a 100+ years aged multigenerational family workplace that grows saccharine potatoes and produces signature Sweet Potato Vodka and Sweet Potato Liqueur, Merced is simply a culinary destination pinch a batch to offer.

Vista Ranch

Chelsea Davis

Few recognize this much than Merced's section business owners, peculiarly Giancarlo DiTullio and his wife, Anaid Martinez-DiTullio, nan reasonably caller owners of longtime section favorite, Bella Luna. In 2021, nan hubby and woman duo acquired Bella Luna from its laminitis Chef Vinnie DeAngelo.

Using their expertise successful nan hospitality and culinary industries, they person sought to proceed to grant nan establishment's storied past, while increasing and evolving nan Italian edifice successful to thing awesome connected its own.

Currently nan paper features an array of appetizers that see classical arancini pinch mushrooms, truffle and mozzarella; crudo di tonno made pinch earthy thinly sliced tuna and Calabrian chili; location made meatballs and more. There's a bully action of salads that scope from nan classical caprese to a shaved Brussels spout crockery pinch a creamy chromatic dijon vinaigrette.

When it comes to wood-fired pizzas, they connection a awesome action ranging from your accepted pepperoni and Italiano pinch location made sausage, to signatures for illustration nan gorgonzola fig pinch location made achromatic ngo fig preserves and cheeses topped pinch prosciutto and balsamic glaze aliases The Hitman pinch chicken, achromatic sauce, garlic, mozzarella, pesto and sun-dried tomatoes.

Wood fired pizza

Bella Luna

From proteins for illustration chickenhearted marsala and braised short ribs served pinch polenta and Brussels sprouts to pastas that see a shrimp arrabiata, a bolognese pinch rigatoni and a crab ravioli pinch a pinkish vodka sauce, you won't beryllium leaving Bella Luna hungry. Of course, beryllium judge to prevention room for dessert — nan location tiramisu, cannoli aliases zabaione is conscionable what guests request to decorativeness nan repast disconnected right.

Bella Luna besides precocious launched an Aperitivo Hour offered astatine nan barroom and cocktail abstraction from 4-6pm mundane they are unfastened from Tuesday - Saturday. The full paper is priced astatine $10, including six bites and 4 cocktails.

Moreover, they've launched a caller beverage book elevating their cocktail programme pinch a larger action of signature and classical cocktails. Currently they characteristic a 8 different Martini cocktails, 1 being nan EVOO which utilizes a fat lavation vodka pinch other virgin oliva oil. This book besides features a array broadside acquisition conception which includes 2 array broadside whiskey flights.


Bella Luna

We chatted pinch proprietor Giancarlo DiTullio connected Bella Luna, nan Merced community, and more. Here's what he had to say.

Talk astir immoderate of nan changes you've made since you took complete nan erstwhile DeAngelo's Restaurant. How are you honoring Bella Luna's history successful Merced arsenic an institution, while continuing to turn and germinate nan restaurant.

We took complete ownership of Bella Luna successful March 2021 aft it had been successful business for 25 years. The past 15 years arsenic Bella Luna and anterior to that, it had been DeAngelo's Restaurant for 10 years, named aft nan cook and founder. Located successful nan bosom of Downtown Merced, we are honoring nan history by keeping nan integrity of recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques utilized by nan erstwhile cook and owner.

Since taking ownership we rebranded Bella Luna giving her a persona. We redesigned nan menus and website. While we person kept immoderate recipes nan same, we person introduced our ain ingredients and dishes. Moreover, we person created a awesome barroom program, moving pinch barroom head and agelong clip Mercedian Billy Pedrozo. We focused connected implementing systems some successful nan room and connected nan level to create an elevated acquisition present successful nan Valley.

House made meatballs and coconut shrimp

Chelsea Davis

How has Bella Luna been received?

We are very grateful that nan organization and unit welcomed america pinch unfastened arms. Since opening successful 2021 we genuinely person deed nan crushed running. We will proceed to inspire, beryllium inspired and push nan letter cover to bring much folks to Merced and spot each of what nan hospitality organization has to connection here.

It was very important to proceed nan relationships built passim nan history. The farmers, vendors and section regulars that person been eating astatine Bella Luna for years. This edifice is very important to this community. There is simply a buzz passim nan time while folks trickle successful and retired mingling pinch chap Merced locals, arsenic good arsenic travelers aliases transplants alike.

Our culinary squad is simply a ample portion of our success. We person a fistful of unit that person been present for 10+ years and we want to make judge to salary homage to our room staff. We besides return pridefulness successful keeping nan sanction regulars that person patroned Bella Luna passim nan years. We person besides been capable to make immoderate different awesome connections of our own.

Merced is going done a play of maturation successful position of caller restaurants, edifice properties and wide nickname successful nan culinary world. Talk astir really Bella Luna fits successful this.

At Bella Luna, we want to beryllium leaders successful nan hospitality organization present successful nan Valley and beryllium portion of nan maturation of nan Valley's nutrient scene. The erstwhile cook and owner, Vinnie, led nan culinary segment present successful Merced and we want to proceed and push nan letter cover connected what that means. To us, we emotion to make each impermanent consciousness they are number 1 priority.

Homemade pasta

Bella Luna

To make our guests consciousness a relationship to our food, to our drinks, to their acquisition and to our staff! We execute this by being our guests’ liaison, guiding them done nan acquisition nan infinitesimal they locomotion successful nan door. Through creating these moments pinch our guests, we build a genuine relationship that fosters a loyal impression. With each of nan eating choices our guests have, we want them to beryllium genuinely delighted they person chosen us.

We are besides moving pinch nan El Capitan Hotel and Merced College successful opening what is called nan Hospitality Academy. This programme gives students nan wrong scoop and preamble to nan Hospitality Industry and nan aggregate careers to take from wrong nan industry. Working successful a edifice is simply a profession to beryllium proud of and school nan younger procreation astir nan manufacture is thing we are very passionate about.

What is nan inspiration for nan paper — is it seasonal aliases does it instrumentality to nan Italian classics?

Guests will bask Italian nutrient made pinch nan champion of what Northern California ingredients has to offer. The paper is inspired by Italian traditions and culture. Our dishes incorporate honorable ingredients and aromas, utilizing accepted cooking techniques. It's “like Nona utilized to make!” for a delightful eating acquisition astatine Bella Luna. We want to attraction connected classics while drafting inspiration to instrumentality twists connected classics.

Grilled lamb chops

Chelsea Davis

Our paper inspiration is classical Italian dishes and that of Italian immigrants. Our Sous Chef Valerie Basso comes from an Italian inheritance and draws inspiration from this to create dishes. Our Kitchen head Stephan Jones has been present 14-15 years and assists pinch crockery creations bringing classical Italian dishes to life.

Merced has specified an abundance of workplace caller nutrient —how do you incorporated this into your menu? Do you usage section purveyors erstwhile sourcing ingredients?

Bella Luna takes pridefulness successful creating relationships pinch farmers successful nan area and has been nurturing these relationships for decades. We person been fortunate to create awesome relationships pinch some nan Marchini Farm and Live Oak Farms which are located successful La Grande, conscionable 20 mins southbound of Merced. Bella Luna uses some farms' products successful dishes featured connected their menu.

The Marchini Farm specializes successful Italian produce. They nutrient nan largest accumulation of radicchio successful nan world and were nan first Italian immigrants to bring radicchio seed to nan United States. We showcase galore of their nutrient connected our paper specified arsenic radicchio, castelfranco, fennel, figs, Italian Tuscan kale and cardone. The narration pinch nan families is important arsenic they are not only farmers but besides portion of this community.

Is location thing successful nan useful going successful to 2024?

We want to proceed to push ourselves and enactment inspired. We are perpetually coming up pinch caller crockery concepts and yet would emotion to characteristic experiences wrong Bella Luna specified arsenic a return distant Bella Luna pantry, Bella Luna Wine Club, offering vino dinners and perchance down nan statement connection a prix hole meal action for guests if they'd for illustration to enactment disconnected our halfway al a carte meal menu.


Bella Luna

In different news, Anaid and I person collaborated pinch a friend of ours, Brie Wolf, and scheme connected opening a Pottery Studio called EarthWorks Clay Space located straight crossed nan thoroughfare from Bella Luna. This abstraction will supply nan organization and Central Valley pinch a potteryn and creation workplace which will big classes, workshops, squad building and much for folks to enjoy. This abstraction is for nan organization and to proceed to beryllium a portion of nan immense creation organization that is present successful nan Central Valley.

Bella Luna and nan upcoming EarthWorks Clay Space person besides collaborated up to big a Makers Market astatine Bella Luna featuring astir 40-45 vendors each six to 8 weeks connected Sundays. The adjacent 1 is November 19th. The 1 aft will beryllium hosted opening February 2024.

This vendor adjacent is each astir nan folks that make things pinch their hands. We want to create a abstraction wherever caller and seasoned artists tin travel together and showcase their passion. We person nutrient vendors and we person our barroom astatine Bella Luna to create a very unsocial marketplace experience.

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