Dining out with friends can foster healthy relationships that might otherwise be limited to impersonal group texts or overly personal bathtime visits. Get a bite in person with a person with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $45 worth of Italian fare at Ciao Bella.
Ciao Bella's Chef Gambino and family turn fresh vegetables and succulent meats into hearty Italian feasts, populating a lengthy menu with a spectrum of creations from northern and southern Italy. Tasters can board comestible cruises with a plateful of clams casino ($7) crowned with flame-kissed peppers, crisp bacon, and breadcrumbs imported from Las Vegas and shaped like poker chips. Eggplant parmesan ($14) leads a parade of 11 homemade pasta entrees, including penne puttanesca ($14) sheathed in a bold-flavored marinara sauce and topped with kalamata olives and anchovies. Flaky mahi mahi ($22) swims through a white-wine sauté to the shores of a creamy risotto—one of eight seafood feasts—and a succulent cut of steak weighs in at 12 ounces before the chef grills or sears it over candlelight to create the steak pizzaiola ($22).
Inside Ciao Bella, earth-toned walls, hardwood floors, and rustic décor envelop feasters in elegant Italian ambiance. Portraits of the owner’s children hang from the walls as a constant reminder of the importance of family and verifying that walls are not literally made of paper before buying a building.
Nestled in Little Italy, Ciao Bella presents a menu of Northern and Southern Italian cuisine crafted by Chef Tony Gambino. Along with his family, Chef Tony serves up edible treasures such as gnocchi alla vodka, which features housemade potato dumplings simmered in vodka cream sauce with garlic and basil. His meaty eats include a succulent center-cut pork chop, which he grills and finishes with a madeira-wine sauce, as well as traditional Italian dishes such as chicken parmigiana and veal saltimbocca with prosciutto and imported provolone cheese. Rather than leaving the restaurant in the hands of robots that run on spaghetti, Tony takes a very hands-on approach, which is why he created the wine list himself. With more than 40 labels, the list dazzles palates with bottles of reds and whites from all across Italy, as well as New World wines from regions such as Napa and Sonoma Valley.
Inside Ciao Bella, white tablecloths drape over tables in a dining room ideal for special nights out or intimate dinners. Private rooms also accommodate parties of varying sizes and have even hosted celebrities such as Steven Van Zandt and Max Weinberg.