Merced County Times Newspaper
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TIMES PHOTOS BY JONATHAN WHITAKER

New bar inside Bella Luna adding to downtown scene

The growing Downtown Merced Culture and Entertainment District just got an exciting infusion of good taste and good times.

After a short period of renovations, the new, separate bar area inside Bella Luna Bistro, 350 W. Main Street, has opened up for fans of social interaction and getting out on the town.

“There is often nothing more important than having a nice, comfortable, refined place to bring friends together, celebrate community and get some business done,” said Ryan Heller, a customer who was enjoying a recent night out with friends. “For me, Bella Luna has always been that place. But with the advent of this new bar, it really is a privilege to be here and enjoying what Merced has to offer.”

The bar features a wine theme, with the bartop made out of strips of wine casks; and Italian accents, like a striking panoramic image of the city of Lucca — where many of the local Italian Americans trace their roots back to.

However, the best things about the new bar are the exclusive and trendy “garden fresh, organic, locally sourced” cocktails, and accompanying cuisine. Fresh basil and mint line the bar top, and the expert bar staff use the ingredients in drinks like the “Bella Basil” (strawberries, basil, house-sour, Titos Vodka, simple syrup and a splash of ginger ale) and the “Fresco Mojito” (mint, strawberries, cucumber, lime juice, mango rum, simple syrup and a splash of ginger ale).

Appetizers include an incredible “Charcuterie Board,” “Spinach Artichoke Fonduta,” “Fried Calamari,” “Burrata Picasso,” “Garlic Parmesan Fries,” and “Coconut Prawns.”

Kudos to the experienced bar staff that keep the party going throughout the night: Lead Bartender Billy Pedrozo, J.J. Thuener, Kristen Miramontes, and barback Guy DeVaurs Jr.

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