Biz Buzz: Italian restaurant opens in Galena; climbing gym coming to Dubuque; Bellevue building repurposed as luxury inn

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from across the tri-states. This edition highlights developments in Galena, Ill.; Dubuque; and Bellevue, Iowa.

GALENA, Ill. — A new Italian restaurant has opened on Galena’s tourist-heavy Main Street.

Cucina Bella recently opened at 125 N. Main St. The restaurant serves a variety of authentic Italian cuisine and is the sister location to the original Cucina Bella, which has operated for nearly 20 years in Algonquin, Ill.

“We want to bring a true, authentic Italian restaurant to the people of Galena,” said owner Tony Colatorti. “A lot of our (Algonquin) regulars have moved out this way, and we want to continue to serve them and everyone else in the (Galena) area.”

Colatorti said he and his wife, Brittany, have visited Galena regularly for the past 15 years and always thought about opening a restaurant there. A Cucina Bella regular this winter sent them a photo of a “for rent” sign in a window along Galena’s Main Street, prompting the couple to finally make the leap.

The restaurant opened its doors this month and now is open five days a week for dinner, with plans to open for lunch once staffing allows.

The menu includes a variety of Italian dishes with a focus on authentic pasta dishes paired with meat or fish. The restaurant’s home blend sauces have been a particular hit, Colatorti said, and can be purchased by the jar.

“All of our food is made-to-order,” Colatorti said. “I feel that when you’re cooking Italian food, real Italian food, that it should be made fresh — not something premade.”

The Cucina Bella menu is inspired by Colatorti’s own family recipes, and many of the dishes served at the restaurant are the same ones he grew up eating at home. The restaurant also offers a kids menu as well as various desserts.

“You can’t grow up with my mom and not walk away knowing how to cook,” Colatorti said. “I love sharing those recipes with people and seeing them walk away as happy and satisfied with the food as I was growing up.”

Cucina Bella is open 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. More information is available online at

Rock climbing gym coming to Dubuque

A new climbing gym soon will open for Dubuque-area residents.

Annie Sharp intends to open Slanted Climbing at 980 Main St. late this year or early next. The Dubuque gym will include a variety of board-based bouldering options for climbers of all ages and skill levels.

“A climbing gym is great for your physical health and your mental health,” Sharp explained. “There’s the physical benefits of climbing, obviously, but it also offers so much more because you can also find a real community with other climbers.”

Slanted Climbing will be focused on bouldering — a form of rock climbing that does not require ropes or harnesses. The gym will consist of climbing boards made of adjustable slabs that can be altered electronically to increase or decrease the course’s difficulty.

The boards offer increased flexibility in comparison to a stagnant build, Sharp explained, and lower the cost of opening the gym. Each board is 24 by 14 feet and can be adjusted anywhere from 10 degrees less than vertical to a 40-degree overhang.

“That variety gives you a wide range of climbability within even just a single course,” Sharp said. “Something that can be extremely easy when less than vertical can be out of your current reach when it’s at a 40-degree overhang.”

Work is ongoing to retrofit the Main Street building to the gym’s needs, but Sharp is hopeful the gym will be open this winter. Once completed, the gym will be open to members or drop-in visitors, and climbing shoes will be available for rent. More information is available online at

Bellevue building repurposed as luxury lodging

A historic Bellevue building has found new life as a luxury lodging facility.

River Rock Inn recently opened at 909 S. Riverview St. The riverfront inn includes five luxury suites owned and operated by Dan and Annie Blitgen, who also run Riverview RV Park & Vacation Rentals on land adjacent to the inn.

“We have the RV park already, but we wanted some kind of larger accommodation to bring people to the riverfront,” Dan Blitgen said. “The inn is a way for us to invest in our hometown and show people what Bellevue has to offer.”

The River Rock Inn building has served several purposes since its 1860 construction, Blitgen said, including time spent as a saw mill, ice house, clay pot factory and — most recently — a nationally known motorcycle repair shop.

The Blitgens purchased the building in February of 2023 with the intention to remodel the space and open the inn last summer. Mother Nature had other plans, however, and the building was damaged by a March 31, 2023, tornado.

“The tornado came right over that hill and straight to the (RV) park,” Blitgen said. “It took the roof off the building and did some damage to the property itself, … so our original timeline wasn’t going to work out.”

The couple pressed on and added storm repairs to an already lengthy list of building improvements, which included a complete interior remodel and build out. Renovation work continued throughout last summer and fall, with the inn finally opening this month.

The inn now is outfitted with five luxury suites — including three one-bedroom and two two-bedroom rentals. Suites can be rented individually or altogether for weddings, reunions or other large gatherings, Blitgen explained.

Guests will notice nods to the building’s history throughout the space, Blitgen added, such as a display made out of an old gear wheel system used in the building’s manufacturing days and the use of several clay pots previously made at the factory.

“We wanted to show the old, historic aspects of the space but still give it a modern feel, so we tried to leave in some of those original details to create a sort of one-of-a-kind accommodation here in town,” Blitgen said.

The Blitgens will host a community open house at the inn at 5 p.m. on July 17, although the space is already open to guests. Booking information and additional lodging details are available online at