Last Thursday I tried Bella Luna, a small italian BYO in Bryn Mawr. I wasn't expecting too much, and was pleasantly surprised by the experience. The place is nicely decorated and would be romantic if it werent' for the loud talkers and poor acoustics. The food was excellent.
We started off with a salad special. It was mesculum with roasted duck breast slices, pistachio crusted goat cheese, candied pecans, and a light vinegrette dressing. It was a huge salad for 10 bucks, and it was superb. The duck was perfectly cooked, and the goat cheese was still warm enough to run a bit when cut. The nuts were slightly sweet/salty and added a nice crunch to the salad. Although the greens weren't that flavorful, I'm yet to find mesculum on the east coast where you can actually taste the distinct flavors of each green without a lot of work.
For entrees, I got the gnocci with gorgonzola. The gnocci was soft and firm, but light. I didn't feel like I had golf balls in my stomach after an hour! The sauce was delicious; sufficient gorgonzola to make it obvious that that was the theme of the sauce, but without the bite of a sauce made with too much dolce gorgonzola. It was thick and buttery and soothing. A huge dish came with enough leftovers for a big lunch the next day for only 14 bucks.
My partner's meal was even better. It was seared sea scallops over polenta with a corn salsa. It was heavenly; earthy and soothing. It came on a huge plate with four beautifully presented and perfectly cooked scallops floating in a sea of the polenta. The polenta had a smokey, earthy quality that made me feel like I was in a warm ski lodge sitting by the fire. I'm not sure what they did to it, but I suspect they toasted the corn meal before making it into polenta. It also had a slightly sweet egginess to it. The corn salsa was a nice addition to add some texture and another layer of corn flavor. I think the dish was $18.50 and also a generous portion with leftovers the next day.
We brought the wrong wine for the food, figuring it would be more of a Northern Italian meal. However, we enjoyed our Turley Old Vine Zin with an alcohol content sure to put anyone at ease!
We didn't have room for dessert, so I can't comment on that.
The service was competent, but perhaps a bit informal. The server spoke to us with a bit too much familiarity (even though we'd never met), as if we were her buddies from the gym.
The owner came by a few times to check on us. She confessed she was scared that Craig LaBan has been in or will. We reassured her that if every meal was like ours, she has nothing to worry about.
I highly recommend this place.