Giuseppe "Joe" Scalzo had to turn down his first opportunity to manage a restaurant, a small trattoria in Calabria he'd been working in as he attended school. He had spent his entire professional career working in Tuscan eateries and wanted the job, but his educational path led him to Chicago's Loyola University in pursuit of a business degree. It didn't take him long to realize that the thing he missed most about home was working in a restaurant. With his newly acquired business acumen, he began his foray into opening Italian restaurants: first Piazza Bella, then Via Carducci, and finally his most recent labor of love, Ciao Bella Ristorante.
The kitchen is nestled behind a black-and-white photographic mural, which hints at the sunshine that sparkles along the Mediterranean coastline. Greenery flanks the piece, providing contrast along with the warm, saturated red walls painted with real marinara sauce. As guests revel under dim lighting amid the elegant atmosphere, plates of carefully crafted Italian cuisine arrive at tables alongside traditional thin-crust pizza. The restaurant recently expanded its bar and lounge areas and added a new banquet area for private parties that can seat up to 70. Joe's personal favorite pie is the quattro stagioni, for its savory blend of prosciutto, artichokes, and black olives.
At Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant's two locations, familiar enchiladas and corn tamales draped in rich chili sauces pour from the kitchen on rainbow-colored fiesta ware, which also delivers house specialties such as prawns sautéed with dungeness crab and vegetables and Cancun tacos filled with halibut and pico de gallo. Burgers and chicken strips provide a similarly hearty alternative to deep-fried chimichangas packed with beef, chicken, or pork chile verde, which is also available by the bowlful. The cantina's design adds to a festive atmosphere, its tangerine walls painted to resemble an arcade overlooking the sea and its carved, wooden chairs painted to resemble the hollowed-out burritos that carried the conquistadors across it.
From omelets and waffles to burgers and pasta, Mante’s offers a hearty meal for every time of the day. Guests can order linguine alfredo, steak and eggs, and bacon cheeseburgers from the menu or venture to the home-style buffet and forage through options like their cavemen predecessors. Kids, meanwhile, get their fill with chicken tenders and homemade mac and cheese, all in preparation for decadent desserts, such as apple pie or dessert nachos smothered with chocolate and strawberry sauces, powdered sugar, and blueberry pie filling.