Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Changes for Bella

In a bold move designed to build upon the success of the most recent restaurant to Lake Leelanau, Bella Fortuna North, and to prepare for Fall, more Tuscan fare is  being added to the menu. “We have introduced the restaurant to more than 5,000 diners since we opened six weeks ago and have listened very carefully to their comments. Overall, they are satisfied with the restaurant and while they come for a variety of reasons the one consistent complaint is the noise level. Secondly, they would like more consistent Tuscan cuisine, both of which we will be addressing”, stated Bob Hesse, co-owner.

The major banquet room (Sala Fiorentina) is expected to be closed for restoration for extensive sound proofing to satisfy customer needs and the bar area (Trattoria) will be used more extensively for the time being.

The basic menu will be the same but will be undergoing some interesting new items which will solidify the Tuscan taste.

Chef Josh Linder, a graduate of the Cordon Bleu Institute of Chicago and a recent Culinary instructor of the Art Institute of Indianapolis, who comes highly recommended by the Regional Executive Chef for Del Frisco’s Grille, will be charged with the responsibility for upgrading the Tuscan menu.

The ambience and renewal of the restaurant d├ęcor; the enthusiastic, albeit young servers; and the food, has resulted in an experience different from other restaurants in the greater peninsula area. However, a recent chef commented that the restaurant deserves food equally great to the rest of the restaurant and hopes “the kitchen will produce the quality of food that will meet your high standards.”

“We’ve been in business for only 6 weeks and, while we have made considerable progress, we still need to improve in order to make Bella Fortuna North a destination restaurant of the highest quality, similar to all the other activities and business in which we are involved” said Jane Fortune, co-owner.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

A few quick updates ...

Just over a month has passed since our last post but I can tell you, it seems like just days. Bella Fortuna North survived its test runs, soft opening and Grand Opening, and also hosted a Garden Walk Tour (with The Little Garden Club of Leland on June 27th) and a number of parties. It has been a very busy place!

We have been booked nearly every night and it has been exciting, for me, to be in the kitchen taking photos and watching how the team prepares and coordinates the food. It gets a little hectic at times and pitching in to help is a given. Yes, it’s true ... I have washed a few dishes...

In the meantime, we have many updates on our website (you’ll want to check out the Lunch & Learn summer series presenter pages) as well as a terrific article about our Bar Manager, Mickey Humpula, in the award-winning Edible Grande Traverse publication. We also have an article about our Executive Chef, Paul Carlson, coming out in the next issue of Traverse Magazine. Other additions to the site include a photo gallery and a page dedicated to the gift shop, our wine list and menu.

Coming up at the end of July ... a special guest chef, Benedetta Vitali, will be coming to stay at Bella to offer cooking demonstrations and dinners. We are very excited about that and know we all have a lot to learn from someone with Benedetta’s experience. More information about Benedetta is posted on our website and we will have her schedule of events posted soon.

Want to give Bella a try? Call ahead!  231-994-2400

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Crunch time

The past month or so at Bella Fortuna North has seen a great deal of change and the remodeling project is nearly complete. We can't thank Elijah Allen (Allen Construction) and his right hand, Chad Smith, enough for all their work and dedication to the project. They know the building inside and out and have been so detail-oriented and professional. All the crews who have taken care of the building--from the electricians to Tim (our cabinet maker) to the crews doing clean up--all have done an amazing job!

We have now moved into training new staff, installing our POS system, and taking care of the final details. New tasks pop up every day and we are working hard to make it all happen. If you have ever been through the process of opening a new restaurant, you know what a monumental undertaking this is--not for the faint of heart.

Stay tuned for more details ... but we will be hosting two Open House events during our Grand Opening Celebration on Friday, June 29th and Saturday, June 30th, from 1-4 PM. Please join us for a tour of our new dining rooms, bar, gift shop, terrace and more!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Quick Progress Report

It has been a very busy week here at Bella Fortuna North. The major remodeling project has picked up speed and we see the light at the end of the tunnel. The new flooring is down, walls are painted, and Eli and Chad installed the wainscoting in the banquet room. We have a new sculpture on the terrace and our cabinets and marble counters are on the way. I think we are getting a delivery of chairs and tables today, too.

The owners of Bella Fortuna North, Jane Fortune and Bob Hesse, flew up from Florida for a surprise visit on Tuesday and have been spending time with the team at the restaurant. They also invited a few of the staff to dinner with them and have been busy catching up and working out details.  

Next week, we should see our plants arrive for the terrace (finally!) and I am looking forward to taking lots of photos and sharing them here. We should also have more food photos as well. Have a great weekend, everyone! It looks to be a beautiful one here in Leelanau County!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Science & Passion

Today, I spent time in the kitchen with Paul and our son, Noah, who is home for the summer from culinary school and who will be cooking at Bella. It was a blissfully quiet morning that allowed for experimenting with ingredients, taking notes, and testing more recipes--a necessity for any chef that cooks from scratch. To plow forward without regard to the nuances of the ingredients (quality and availability) and careful measurements to manage portions and maintain consistency is only asking for problems.  Intuition, experience and passion for good food play a role, too, and so they test and "play" until a dish is ready for the menu.

My part? I get to take photos and taste test. A tough job, I know ...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Before and After

The new terrace and exterior remodel of Bella Fortuna is coming along quite well. If you happen to be in Lake Leelanau, check it out! We will post a few photos of the interior "before and after" soon. Our Grand Opening is slated for June 29th with a Friday and Saturday Open House. Very exciting!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bella Fortuna North will be opening its doors on June 29th. We are currently going through a major remodel and working hard to make our Grand Opening weekend. In addition to adding a beautiful terrace for outdoor dining (designed and installed by Richard Angell and the Green Legacy Landscapes team), the entire interior of the building is undergoing a stunning transformation.

In addition to three distinct dining areas, one of which has a fireplace, we have installed a wood fired oven for baking bread, appetizers and the gourmet pizza Executive Chef Paul Carlson and his crew were famous for the past few summers at the Hearth & Vine cafe located at Black Star Farm. Chef Paul has moved on and is now with Bella Fortuna (not sure what will become of the Hearth & Vine).  If you are interested in learning more, please visit http://saveurthyme.blogspot.com/.

Bella Fortuna will feature premium casual dining when it opens and focus on food from Florence, Italy. It will have a small gift shop and host a few very special events this summer including a week-long visit from Benedetta Vitali, author of Soffritto, Tradition and Innovation in Tuscan Cooking, and owner of Zibibbo, a celebrated restaurant in Florence, Italy. Benedetta will be offering lectures and demonstrations and we will post more information as it becomes available.

In the meantime, here are a few photos of the terrace in progress: