Readers Write: Farewell, Aunt Bella’s

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Readers Write: Farewell, Aunt Bella’s

Another local neighborhood institution has closed its doors. Here is the link to the announcement. https://auntbellasln.wixsite.com/auntbellasitalian.

Aunt Bella’s located on Marathon Parkway two blocks south of Northern Boulevard in Little Neck opened in 1977 and celebrated its 44th anniversary in February 2021. I have been a regular since 1983, my wife Wendy since 1994.

Upon my first visit in 1983, I was sold on the menu. Chicken Cutlet Parmigiana, Garlic Bread, Salad and Pasta became my standard. Years later, I would switch to Sauteed Chicken with Peppers and Sun-dried Tomatoes. In recent times, they would make me Salmon Cutlet Parmigiana even though it was not on the menu.

Wendy always seems to enjoy ordering the Shrimp Scampi over pasta. During my bachelor days on cold winter nights, I would phone in for a delivery “care package.” Back then my appetite could handle an order of Baked Ziti as an appetizer followed by Chicken Cutlet Parm with a side salad, garlic bread and pasta. I was so grateful for the delivery person that I would always be sure to leave him with a good tip.

Even with many loyal customers growing older, moving away or sadly succumbing to old age, prior to COVID-19 Bella’s held on.

New generations of customers and neighbors would replace those lost. They quickly learned about the great food at reasonable prices that were accompanied by the personal attention of the staff.

Once hooked, they became regulars. Many loyal customers who may have moved would still try and come back. It was not out of the ordinary to see neighbors recognizing neighbors while dining.

The new owner Andy was on the verge of closing last Thanksgiving. He decided to give it a try. No more lunch hours as there were few customers to be found. The new hours were 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., closed on Mondays.

We looked forward to spending New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day and other special holidays at Aunt Bella’s. Even when there is a special limited menu (it is the only way for any restaurant to keep up with the high turnover rate of customers) for New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day, it is well worth the extra dollar or two for your meal.

Why travel into Manhattan for some fancy upscale restaurant where you are a total stranger? You can obtain a much better meal for far less.

Eating at Aunt Bella’s was like dining with family. On cold winter nights, hot summer days or when it is my night to cook we walked a few blocks over to Aunt Bella’s. Over time, we have gotten to know many of the staff on a first-name basis. Frequently, the portions have been so generous that we have had a doggy bag for the next day.

It is a double loss with the closing of Aunt Bella’s along with Stop & Shop on Oct. 14. Our neighborhood will never be the same

As part of our annual yearly Christmas/Hanukkah celebration, we always dropped off a box of cookies from Joe’s Sicilian Bayside Bakery to our friends at Aunt Bella’s, who treated us like family all year long. It was our way of saying thank you.

Wendy and I enjoyed our final meal there last Sunday night. We will always cherish our memories of the good times we had breaking bread at Aunt Bella’s.

Larry & Wendy Penner

Great Neck

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