We took a chance on using our Groupon
for Ciao Bella tonight and I admit to being hesitant because of the many mixed reviews that I read on many sites. So glad that we took the chance and tried it out. Ciao Bella is decorated in a Mediterranean style, much like you would see in many of the homes of the Baltimore Little Italy. Oil paintings adorn the walls and the windows all have beautiful window treatments that complement the style. For those who are looking for chic and minimalistic furnishings, this may not be for you. I'm not sure how the style of a restaurant affects the dining experience to begin with. I care about the presentation and taste of the dishes that I order. Besides, many of these places in Little Italy were someone's home at one time and that's what makes them special. It's almost like you are being warmly welcomed into someone's home.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the host and promptly showed to a table for two facing the sidewalk. We were brought ice water, bread and a saucer of olive oil dip with a spicy seasoning very promptly. LOVED the olive oil dip....much better than butter! Our server who was very personable, not to mention attentive throughout the whole meal explained the specials and gave us some time to figure out what we wanted to dine on. We finally decided on Shrimp Oreganato as an appetizer, two house salads because of the positive reviews about the house dressing and two orders of Veal Saltimbocca. To drink, we started with iced tea and with dinner we had a Pinot Noir.
The Shrimp Oreganato was delicious. For eleven dollars, a few more than three shrimp would have been nice, but they were a fair size and very tasty. It was garnished with some fresh greens (looked to be arugula) and a light sauce. Four shrimp would have been a better number here, but other than that, they were fantastic!
On to the house salad. In a word, wow! Salad was very fresh, nice, crisp and cold and a decent size. The house dressing was very tasty and did not overwhelm the salad. It was a mix of lettuces and better than the tired iceberg lettuce salads that we have experienced elsewhere.
We both ordered the Veal Saltimbocca which was accompanied by a small saucer of linguine and a fresh tomato based sauce. Server brought a surprise of Romano cheese, rather than the normal offering of Parmesan which added extra flavor, not that it needed it. The veal did not disappoint. It was tender and flavorful and the sauce was a perfect accompaniment. Even though it was a lighter meat, we selected the house Pinot Noir to have with it. While it would have tasted much better out of my Riedel crystal, it had a nice bouquet and for six dollar a glass, a fair sized pour. Probably the only thing I would have changed is the pasta sauce....while it was very tasty, the red sauce did not lend itself very well to the delicate sauce of the veal. An offering of risotto would be a better choice here. Just the opinion of an amateur gourmet chef.
We were offered dessert which we declined as our favorite place is Vaccaros, however I have to say the homemade Limoncello was very tempting....maybe next visit!
We were very happy with our service and the friendliness of the establishment. The prices for Little Italy are pretty standard. We did notice upon leaving that there were people waiting to be seated with many empty tables and not sure why that is, but it looks like they might be trying to spread people out for the servers to keep it fair. All in all though a good experience....we would definitely dine there again.
Overrated. Poor parking, over priced, poor service. Great ambiance good sauteed mushroom
yuuuccckk!!!!. Terrible all around. We waited half hour for table and was not offered drink or a seat. The bread was burnt and cold. The server looked like she wanted a bullet in her brain and the staff was ambivalent. The rum and coke was $8.00 and small and everything was ala carte', which is Ok for high quality, this was not.We go the crab toast app and it was two teeny pieces of the same cold, burnt bread we had with dinner and the crab was good, but about the size of a half dollar and was cold. Not good for $12.00My wife got the 12 Oz. Steak Pizziola and it was maybe 7 oz. at best. The rissoto was a big glop of goo that looked like oatmeal and no salad, but about 3 or 4 red peppers in a tasteless marinara that tasted like puree with parsley. All this for $26.00I got the lobster ravioli for $24.00 and got 4 little ravioli that were cold and tough. No discernable lobster meat as it was ground up and looked like tuna fish when I opened one up. The sherry reduction had congealed, so it sat for awhile before it was served. All in all, it su_ked. Waitress checked on us once in the hour + we were there, and for $85 we could've gotten a much better meal at Carraba's and had about 4 drinks each. Carraba's is always good and their Sirloin Marsala for $18.00 with a salad and side is FAR SUPERIOR to the garbage served at Ciao Bella and Carraba's Lobster Ravioli for $17 is far superior, has real pieces of lobster, about 12 ravioli's and is served hot with salad and a side. Plus, the service as far above Bella's and the people are nice.What a waste of $95, plus $10 to park. I tipped $10 and she's lucky she got that. Iccck!!!
Making a last impression each and every time. I have to say, Chef Gambino gets it right each and every time. From the first time I moved to Baltimore back in 2007, the place has definitely hit a note with me. I moved down from NY, where food is superb, but after trying Ciao Bella for the first time, I would say they have taken a bit of the Big Apple and placed it here in Little Italy Md. The atmosphere is inviting and the staff makes you feel like a guest in their home. I have done lunch on the run and sat down for an evening on the town, and each time feels like an experience. I have a bias to the Penne Carbonara, but have ventured at lunch to try different soups, salads and entrees. A must try on any trip to Baltimore or just an evening out to impress. You wont be disappointed...and even might run into me.
STAY AWAY!!!! OWNER IS A SCUMBAG AND A CROOK!!.
I booked the rehearsal dinner for my wedding here several months in advance. I signed a contract and paid a $500 deposit. The WEEK BEFORE the wedding, he called my fiancee and said he double booked and had to cancel us!!!
He took another party on short notice because they had more people than us. He has yet to return our deposit check! We then had to find a restaurant downtown the week before our wedding in June that could take a reservation for 40 and was reasonably priced. This guy is the worst restaurant owner in all of Baltimore.
The best of the best in Little Italy.
What a wonderful night we had at Ciao Bella. Tony the owner and chef was super accommodating for 26 people. The banquet room was beautifully laid out. The food was enjoyed by all. Food pricing was good and drinks were great. Vallet parking was a plus. Cia Bella is a warm and inviting find. Hope to go back soon. If you are in Little Italy to dine and don't pick Ciao Bello it is your loss. Our Yacht Club thought you did a great job.
Thank you all at Ciao Bella,
M.B Vice Commodore
This Place is Going Down Hill Fast..... I travel for work about 40 weeks a year and eat at a lot of restaurants. This is the worst place I have ever "tried" to eat a meal. I had eaten here before so I said let's try it. My wife, 2 year old son and I went on a Sunday night. The hotel concierge said Sundays were not busy and we did not need a reservation. We showed up at the restaurant and were told to wait in the bar, it would be about 15 minutes. Two other groups showed up after us without reservations (3 adults, 2 kids and an infant) and 4 adults. Our table was right next to the host station and we overheard every conversation. The host (who was the owner) seated the group of 6 first (we said OK, maybe they had a 6-top open up), but then he was seating the group of 4 and leaned down and told us that "they were busy back there so he would just set us up at the table we were at in the bar". This might have been OK 45 minutes earlier, but not after he seated 2 groups ahead of us. Besides, who wants to feed their child in a bar. So we told him no way and after a heated argument about how rude he was, we walked out (the door was loose and banged on the way out). Then, he followed us out into the street and started calling me an *ss and told my wife that she married an *ss. There is absolutely no excuse for a restaurant owner to A) treat customers like that and B) to yell those kinds of comments at us at the top of his lungs on the street. Please find somewhere else to go. If you don't want to put up with things his way, you are in for a very rude treatment. We went a half a block down the street to Germano Tratorias and had a great meal and great service. Go there instead.
The best in Little Ital. We use to eat at Da Mimmo but not anymore now that we found Ciao Bella. One of the best Italian restaurants we have been to and we eat out alot
Great Food, Excellent Service.
Ciao Bella has the best Italian food my Fiance and I have ever had. The service was outstanding and the owner had a true interest in how our experience was. Not only would I recommend this restaurant to anyone and everyone, I plan on taking my parents there as well. Go to Ciao Bella, I promise you wont be sorry you did.
Laura & Zach Mitchell
Great experience. My boyfriend and I made the trip up to Baltimore for the weekend, and after a long day of sightseeing we made our way into Little Italy. We went down High St. looking at the menus beside the doors until we stumbled across Ciao Bella. We were immediately greeted at the door by who I eventually learned was the owner, and after telling him that we didn't have reservations, I guess he took pity on us poor tourists (carrying bags from the National Aquarium) and fit us in. The service was incredible- the wine selections and food were fantastic! We got the Sangiovese wine, and the Chicken Marsala and Gnocchi a la Pesto- both are highly recommended. We finished up with the Tiramasu- probably the best I've ever had- including traveling to Italy. Probably a good idea to make reservations though- the place was busy and it would have probably been much easier to get in.
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