From the Times Ledger:
A new restaurant in Middle Village appears to be pleasing diners with its high-end Italian food, but some neighbors are complaining that its old-style wood-burning oven is giving them a face full of soot.
La Bella Cucina opened Sept. 4 at 69-61 Juniper Blvd. South and soon afterward hosted a Republican fund-raising dinner for City Council candidate Tom Ognibene and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Its Web site touts its authentic, brick-oven pizzas.
But neighbor Bernice McCormick told Community Board 5 in October that black smoke pours from the restaurant’s wood-fired oven most of the day, making her eyes burn.
CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said he had written to the owner asking her to stop using the oven and contacted the city Department of Environmental Protection, which issued a $400 violation against the restaurant Oct. 14 for odor emissions from the smoke. The restaurant is slated for a hearing on the violation Nov. 30.
“I thought maybe that did some good, but then, like the last two Sundays, it was pretty bad when I passed by,” he said.
A DEP spokeswoman said the agency had received 10 complaints involving the restaurant between September and the beginning of November.
The DEP said it recommended the restaurant either use a different fuel to light the fire in the oven before switching to wood or install a filtering device on the chimney to reduce smoke and odor.
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