Continuing with our exploration of new Italian places we finally tried out Ciao Italian Kitchen last week. Ciao is located on the north side of the swanky Waterfront development right off of Webb. The same location fostered restaurant failures such as Piztros and at least one other venture. The restaurant is conveniently located right next to the New Balance store in case you are looking for quality footwear after a satisfying Italian meal.
Ciao was doing a decent lunch crowd when we ventured in on a Sunday afternoon. The inside is spacious and open with large windows offering views of the lovely Waterfront property. In case you have some restless children with you, all the tables are covered with white paper with several crayons provided for cheap entertainment.
Once seated our friendly waitress rattled off some drink specials including an Italian Sangria. This sounded like an appropriate drink for a Sunday afternoon, so several of us in the group indulged in what was a rather refreshing beverage. The menu a Ciao was daunting to say the least. It included pizzas, calzones, salads, and innumerable pasta dishes. While we poured over the menu, several small loaves of crusty bread were served with the obligatory olive oil for dipping. While waiting for the rest of our party to arrive we decided an order of toasted ravioli was needed as an appetizer. After a few minutes wait we were enjoying large raviolis that tasted as good as they looked.
For our entrees I ordered the Pasta Puttanesca and Steph decided to try the Pasta Del Mare. Both of us received generous portions of pasta. The Puttanesca was a bowl of spaghetti with a red sauce that was slightly spicy. There were also slices of sausage, chicken, and a large meatball. I really enjoyed my dish. The spaghetti was not overcooked and had been properly mixed with the red sauce. My meatball was alright and the sausage had a good kick to it.
Steph’s pasta dish was alfredo based with an abundance of seafood. I thought the alfredo sauce was a bit bland, but on the other hand it was a bit lighter than some alfredo sauces, so it worked with the lighter nature of the scallops, shrimp, and calamari bits. Steph would have liked larger scallops, as the “mini” ones were a bit tough and chewy. If you are squeamish about eating calamari tentacles you should probably avoid the Del Mare because it was full of chewy tentacle goodness. Everyone else in our party enjoyed their selections at Ciao.
Of the three new Italian restaurants we have tried Ciao is the most family friendly and best bang for your buck establishment. If you are looking for a good traditional Italian meal that will leave you satisfied this is your place. While the food is not as high end as Bocconcini or Luca it sure beats Olive Garden, unless of course you really need never-ending salad and bread sticks laced with crack.