Luca Bella "Officially" Opens in Former Chef Allen's Space

Luca Bella had a soft opening in mid-September, but announced its grand opening in February. That's a pretty lengthy time period, so presumably by this point any kinks have been ironed out, the staff is set, and the family-style Italian restaurant is ready to go. The owner is Mickey Maltese, former proprietor of Matteo's Italian Restaurant in Hallandale. Maltese was born in New York, but his roots stretch to Naples, Italy.

"My family and I are so excited to bring Aventura its only authentic New York Italian restaurant," says Mickey. Grand openigs evidently call for grand statements. "Aventura is such a great city...it's time it has a great family restaurant to go with it."

The name, Luca Bella, is inspired by the Maltese's two children, Marcelo Luca and Isabella; their pictures adorn the restaurant walls (now that's a family-style restaurant!). The venue is the former Chef Allen's space, but it hardly looks familiar. The 200-seat eatery still has an open kitchen, but the cooks look out onto a dining room of soft caramel colors and bright fabrics, with a 20-seat bar, private dining area, and several big-screen TVs. There's an outdoor patio as well.

Appetizers include favorites like clams casino, fried zucchini, and pasta fagioli. Family-style courses encompass classics such as mascarpone meat lasagna, ziti with ricotta, and "the famous Mickey's Meatballs" (made from sirloin and pan-fried). The extensive menu likewise tenders steaks, seafoods, salads and such. Remember: It's Italian-American comfort food, so make sure to bring along a hearty appetite.

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