I used to work around the neighborhood, and whenever I went for my Starbucks run I would always pass by this dainty Italian place on the corner. It always looks so busy for lunch, especially the patio during summer days, and they always have this cute looking sandwich board highlighting their specials and deals of the day. I’ve always wanted to try it out, but never seemed to find the time to, until Dine Out. I only realized Ciao Bella was that very same restaurant after trying to Google Map the location! (facepalm) We came here on the 21st of January as a triple date dinner, and another excuse to try everything on their menu. Our waitress was very friendly and helpful for wine. We ended up with one white and a riesling for the night, each bottle yield roughly a full glass for everyone. The white was a bit too dry, but the riesling, being sweet and fruity, was the automatic favorite of the girls. The ambiance was very warm and cozy, a good romantic place for special occasions or even a casual dinner date since their menu isn’t that expensive. They apparently had live piano too, but we didn’t come on the specified dates. Bread was brought out, with the usual condiments; olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Pretty tasty from what I remember, but nothing out of the ordinary. Soon after came our appetizers.
Tuna Carpaccio; shaved albacore tuna, finished with a honey-wasabi aioli
Lobster Bisque; Chef’s special lobster bisque soup, Ciao Bella’s version of a classic lobster and seafood soup
Goat Cheese & Butter Lettuce; poached pear and goat cheese served on a bed of butter lettuce, drizzled with a roasted shallot vinaigrette
Me, being a sushi lover, didn’t find the tuna carpaccio to be anything special. The sauces didn’t really add or subtract anything for me, but the fish was fresh tasting, just that I’ve probably had better elsewhere. The soup, though had the lobster smell, did not deliver in the lobster taste. According to my foodie friends, it was more fish-like than lobster. My salad’s appearance was disappoint too, as you can see in the picture. For the poached pear being the highlight of the salad, I thought it would be more. Either thinly sliced, or couple chunks, not just one tiny wedge. Didn’t taste the shallots in the vinaigrette, but loved the cheese.
Herb-Marinated Lamb Chops; grilled lam chops served with rosemary infused extra virgin olive oil
Pollo Alla Marsala; boneless, skinless chicken breast with mixed mushroom masala, wine and demi glaze
Grilled Pacific Halibut; topped with house made fruit salsa and a hint of habanero chillies
All entree dishes came with either pasta or vegetables, and I was the only one that chose the veggies, which was the better choice. I’m not a fan of beets, but I could have ate what Ciao Bella gave me forever. The flavours in the carrots and mashed potatoes, no words can describe! What threw me off was the addition of the Asian Bok Choi, which felt out of place and had no real flavour to. The lamb chops were also very wonderful. Full flavoured and cooked just right. Being a chicken breast, it was a tad too dry, but the mushroom demi glaze made up for that. Same thing for the fish. It wasn’t the main ingredient that stood out for both the dishes, but the complimentary. I love halibut for the soft and flaky flavours it offers, but this one just felt over cooked. The salsa on top however, was good, though I couldn’t seem to find any of the chillies it claimed to have. The pasta was pretty bland but I remember hearing somewhere that true Italian pasta was penne only, with a tomato sauce, and none of what we have here with meat, alfrados and spaghetti etc. So I can’t really blame them, but everyone at the table felt that it would have been better for both the chicken and fish dishes if it was paired with an alfrado fettuccine instead.
There was also a third dessert choice; the House Special of the day, which was a Belgian Chocolate Cake I believe. But everyone went for the classics. The tiramisu had good flavour, and came in a huge cut. A little too huge, but everyone enjoyed it. The Crème brûlée however, was nothing special, but still passable.
Overall, the night was excellent. Good company, good food, great service from our server. Only complaint might have been the male server there. Think he’s the boss or owner, or manager, doesn’t matter. He gave off a very pushy feel at times and ignored us when we had questions or requests. I would still come back for a second try, if not for their homely atmosphere and flavours, at least for the lamb and veggies!